What is Joe Lacob's general mood with the Warriors standing 31-21 and sixth in the Western Conference playoff stack?
Based on a Tuesday night phone conversation, the Warriors' co-owner is in a big wait-and-see period and he has no problem with publicly letting everyone know that he isn't thrilled with the run of home losses of late.
And he has no problem with coach Mark Jackson knowing that he isn't thrilled.
Here's a transcript of my interview:
-Q: Are you at all bothered by the way the team has stumbled lately, mostly at home?
-LACOB: Here's the thing, it's pretty simple: Expectations for this team obviously by the media and by the fans and to some extent by us as well were high this season.
I think we all want to improvement on what we were last year--we believed we have a better team at the start of the season than we were last season and I believe we do.
And the goal was to get into the top four in the West and get home-court advantage in (the first round of) the playoffs.
The way look at bottom line, net-net as we say, is that we are 31-21, and we have not played as well as we need to play. We've been very inconsistent at home. The road's been fine.
But at home we've lost a couple games—to Minnesota and to San Antonio when they played their scrubs, if you remember... and Denver and Charlotte. Maybe another, four games that we just absolutely should've won.
We didn't. And I'm not sure why.
The team wasn't ready in those games. I can't explain it—why we don't play so consistently at home as we should. We have a great home-court advantage, great fans, great atmosphere. It's not clear.
But if we had (won those games), that's the difference between really being let's say 35-17 and being 31-21 now. We could be tied essentially with the Clippers for fourth.
We're not that far off. I'm not as discouraged as some of the fans seem to be. Let's wait 'til the end of the season to see where things end up.
We obviously need to fix this consistency thing, but we're still within spitting distance and still have some tie to achieve our goal, which is to get to fourth in the West.
But it's not going to be easy--we've squandered some home games.
So my answer to your question overall: I'm a little disappointed,. But not overly concerned yet.
-Q: Are you happy with the job Mark Jackson and his staff is doing?
-LACOB: I think you're always evaluating everybody, whether it be the players, the coaches... It's hard to know, if you don't quite win a few games you should, is it the coach's fault? Is it the players; fault? It's hard to say.
I think we'll have to look back on a body of work at the end of the season and look at that and make an evaluation.
I do think our coach has done a good job—we have had some big wins, a lot of wins on the road, and that's usually a sign of good coaching.
But some things are a little disturbing—the lack of being up for some of these games at home, that's a concern to me.
-Q: Let's go back to what your expectations were and are for this team. When you added Iguodala last summer, didn't you think you had a team that could challenge in the West?
-LACOB: I've stated it before and I'll state it again: My expectation was that we would be a serious competitor to be in the top four in the West.
Beyond that, I think it's very hard to say. If you take a look... look at statistics... I know you do things with statistics... Go back and look at the league, it doesn't usually happen overnight.
The truth is these teams have to grow, have to play together for several years, have to build to get to that point. That's the coaching staff, too, they have to grow and get better.
You look at Oklahoma City, they haven't won a championship yet. It took about four years to really progress. Indiana took about four years of increasing progression over about four years, from say 25 wins to 32 wins to 42 wins to 52 wins...
Look at the numbers--it's almost always a three or four-year process in the NBA to grow together to become a championship contender.
Yes we'd all love to say that when we got Iguodala we were a champinship contender. I don't know that's really true.
I certainly expect us to be better than we were last year; and right now, look, we're roughly about the same. And we've got another 30 games to improve that result.
Right now we have interim results.
-Q: So if you don't improve this year, are you looking at having to make major changes?
-LACOB: It really depends on a lot of factors. We'd have to see. You could not improve because you had major injuries, and we have had injuries—Iguodala was out for a time. But I don't really count that as significant—other teams had injures too. San Antonio has had injuries, Westbrook has been out for Oklahoma City.
I don't think our injuries have been really any worse than anybody else's.
We have to wait until the end of the season—we still have 30 games and I'm hopeful that we're going to coalesce and come together as a group and get to the playoffs playing our best.
-Q: Did you hear Mark Jackson's statements about Bogut and Bogut's response and then Mark's statement afterwards saying his words were twisted and saying his locker room will never have a problem?
-LACOB: I saw it all. Honestly, that was just a miscommunication probably on the part of Mark and a misunderstanding on the part of Bogut and the media did what it does.
I just don't think it's worth worrying about very much. It'll be yesterday's news by tomorrow.
-Q: I guess the larger question is does Jackson reacting like that show that he's maybe feeling some pressure? Some increased pressure lately?
-LACOB: Of course there's pressure on him. Just like there's pressure on the players, there's pressure on Mark, too. There's on me, pressure on Bob Myers...
And you know what? We should all be happy we have that pressure, because the truth is that means we're relevant.
If there's no pressure and no expectations, that means we're in rebuild mode and still coming.
I don't think that's the case. We're good. Whether we are achieving our expectations or not, we'll look at the end of the year and see what we did.
Maybe he is feeling it a little and he should be feeling pressure. That's a good thing.
I feel the pressure for this team to perform. We've invested a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of thinking, a lot of effort, and we're going to continue to do so.
I certainly feel pressure and some weight of expectation and I'm very happy to feel those things because it means we' re getting somewhere.
-Q: So what's your attitude going into the trade deadline? Are you prepared and set to be aggressive looking for deals?
-LACOB: Very aggressive. I don't think I would answer that differently any year. Honestly, I don't even know how you think about it any other way.
You should always be very aggressive, should always be looking to improve your team.
Now it's not clear we'll be able to do that. There have been a lot of discussions, that's what I hear around the league, but we'll just have wait and see.
We're not going to make a move just to make a move. Certainly there are certain parts of the roster that we'd like to improve. No matter how good we are, we'd probably have that attitude.
There's no real limit on what we can do. Bob Myers has the ability, he knows, to propose anything to ownership, even if it means going into luxury tax, if means using those trade exceptions. We'll consider all things.
-Q: Are you focused on improving the bench?
-LACOB: I think we improved our bench a little bit, certainly when we brought on Jordan Crawford.
He provides something we didn't have before, he has the ability to go off offensively; we haven't really seen him go off like that, but I think he will. Most importantly, he can make a shot, he's dangerous, is the bottom line. I think that helps.
If there's another player out there who can improve the bench in another way we'd do that. I think the bench certainly could be better—it has not met expectations overall for the year.
But I do think it's getting better, and recent nights would be examples of that, for instance what Speights did last night and Harrison Barnes has been playing better the last few games.
Draymond has been pretty good off the bench. I think Crawford is looking like he's getting ready to have a big game on of these nights, that's my prediction.
-Q: There's been a widely circulated USA Today report that you're wiling to talk about trading anybody on the team except Curry and Bogut. Is that accurate?
-LACOB: That specific statement has been out there. But I think we'd be very reluctant to trade any of our core pieces; we like our core.
And our young core players—Curry, Klay and Barnes--a lot of teams like them because we're getting specific trade proposals on a daily basis about those players.
We are not anxious nor are we likely to make a move involving those players. Everyone wants what we have, young pieces. And we also have some important veteran players in our core and you need a mix of the two...
It's obvious we need to get a little better, need a little more bench production and we need to gel a little more.
We just haven't quite hit our stride. Hopefully we hit that; we've got 30 games left to do it and make a strong run to the playoffs.
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