Warriors owner Lacob dismisses Silver's competition concern

ByEthan Sherwood Strauss ESPN logo
Thursday, July 14, 2016

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is clearly not a fan of Kevin Durant heading to the Golden State Warriors, even though it was all above board. But will a perceived superteam translate into league dominance? Only time will tell.

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The Golden State Warriors are technically playing by the rules, though it doesn't exactly feel like it. Painful playoff losses are supposed to bring about an offseason of wallowing, the stuff of Dirk Nowitzki running off to Australia and growing a full beard. Instead, the unchastened Warriors evaded the natural heartbreak process by promptly wooing Kevin Durant to what was already considered the best shooting team in the league. They did it legally, but that fact won't do much to soften feelings around the league.

Adam Silver gave voice to some of that sentiment Tuesday in his NBA's Board of Governors address. Silver said, "In the case of Kevin Durant, I absolutely respect his decision once he becomes a free agent to make a choice that's available to him. In this case, he operated 100 percent within the way of the system, and the same with Golden State. Having said that, I do think in order to maintain those principles that I discussed, creating a league in which every team has the opportunity to compete, I do think we need to re-examine some of the elements of our system." Silver's summary on the current state of superteams was surprisingly pointed: "I do not think that's ideal for the league."

When asked about Silver's comments, Warriors owner Joe Lacob declined to comment at first, before saying, "Let them talk," as he exited Thomas & Mack Center.

It's certainly understandable that many find the 73-and-Durant Warriors too decadent to bear. For the league's parity partisans, this could be considered a major affront, an event worthy of reconsidering the very structure of the league. Maybe the Warriors are an existential threat to every team in the league, and maybe the angst they've stirred up makes for an existential threat to them. Maybe the owners will cooperate next CBA to crush what Golden State has built.

On top of Durant, smaller things are stoking resentments. There was the below-market signing of center Zaza Pachulia, a roster move that prompted ESPN's Zach Lowe to tweet, "I have gotten almost as many angry texts/etc from team execs about GSW getting Zaza for nothing as I did re: GSW signing KD." Then David West joined on for the veterans minimum.

The next inspiration of jealousy was Golden State's second-round selection of shooting guard Patrick McCaw, who looks like a player. Perhaps McCaw, a 20-year-old UNLV product, isn't projected for stardom, but he has shown promise in these games as a solid rotation player who defends at a high level and moves the ball well. At pick No. 38, that would make for a steal. After a solid performance from McCaw, an Eastern Conference team official remarked, "Another second round theft for the Warriors. Damn it!"

The Warriors are equally high on McCaw. Steve Kerr was impressed with McCaw's play so far and remarked that he should get rotation minutes. Kerr favors players who avoid dominating the rock and adjust themselves to a team concept. So far, McCaw fits that bill. Golden State assistant coach Ron Adams, a man not famed for his effusive compliments, declared of McCaw, "He sees the game well."

If the Warriors have a flaw, it's their lack of rim protection at the 5. Pachulia is a smart positional defender, but lacks the burst to block shots. Larry Sanders, who is currently retired, might have hinted at joining Golden State on social media, but that marriage does not appear to be in the cards. The Warriors looked into Sanders as a possible signing, but decided against it.

Rim protection is probably more luxury than necessity for a roster that boasts Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Durant. These Warriors claim an embarrassment of riches, and while there's no guarantee this ends in a title, much of the league is already operating as though resistance is futile -- until next year's CBA, maybe. If and when the other owners attempt to Harrison Bergeron the Warriors, Lacob and Co. intend to stay one step ahead. The NBA Finals appeared to be their Waterloo, but instead they've charged forth, bolder than ever, impervious to haters. If last season's unintentional Lacob slogan was "light years," perhaps this season's is, "Let them talk."

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