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Joe Lacob

Getty/Ezra Shaw Golden State Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob gives head coach Steve Kerr his 2017-18 Championship ring before the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors matched up in last season’s inaugural play-in tournament, and it was a thriller with the Lakers squeaking out a 103-100 win on May 19, 2021.

The Warriors unfortunately dropped their following game to the Memphis Grizzles and missed the playoffs outright for the second consecutive season, after five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.

The Lakers came into the season with high expectations. Rob Pelinka and the Lakers put all their cards on the table and traded for All-Star Russell Westbrook, in hopes he would be the missing piece that would put the Lakers over the top for an title. Additionally, the purple and gold signed numerous veterans in hopes they would help round out the perimeter shooting to surround their three stars.

Meanwhile, the Warriors flew under the radar. Outside of adding Nemanja Bjelica and bringing back Andre Iguodala, the team was banking on the returns of Klay Thompson and the contributions of their youth to stay relevant in the competitive Western Conference.

Fast forward to present day, the Lakers did not even qualify for the play-in tournament and sent their head coach Frank Vogel packing the day after their season ended.

The Warriors on the other hand enjoyed a sizzling start to the regular season behind the stellar play of Steph Curry and the drastic emergence of Jordan Poole. They finish third best overall by record, and are considered legitimate contenders for the title, something the Lakers thought they would be a part of.

Owner Joe Lacob Sounds Off on Teams Not Invested in Future

Joe Lacob has never been one to keep quiet. The bombastic Warriors owner famously told the New York Times in 2016 that the Warriors were ‘light-years ahead’ of all the other teams.

Recently, he sat down with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami and talked about their unique approach in entrusting the front office to continue to contend, but also develop their young nucleus at the same time.

In the process, Lacob referenced teams that went all in on players who were passed their prime, and how things have not worked out for them.

“There are a couple teams, I’m not going to say who, there’s some other teams that went all-in on older players. And older players do get injured. That’s the thing you have to remember. Suppose we had made a trade, traded away all our youth, for I don’t know, you name the guy, and they’re injured, out for the year. Anytime you’re over 30, 32, 35, these people get injured. It’s data.”

You could make the case Lacob is talking about the Clippers—since Kawhi Leonard missed the entire season, and Paul George missed a length stretch—but it’s pretty obvious he is referencing the Lakers, especially with how much coverage the historic franchise gets.

Anthony Davis missed 42 games of the season, while LeBron James sat out 26 of his games. The trio of Davis, James and Westbrook only were on the court together for 393 minutes this season.

Davis has a history of injuries, while James has missed more games with the Lakers than he has missed total with the Heat and Cavaliers. To make matters worse, the Lakers do not have much assets left to improve the roster in the near future (their next first round pick is in 2027).

Back-to-Back Missed Playoffs for Warriors Were Blessing in Disguise

With Thompson missing two plus seasons and Curry missing a chunk of time himself, the Warriors had no choice but to concede much in their first two seasons at Chase Center.

However, the front office was smart and used those misfortunes to reap the rewards of future assets in terms of draft prospects. The team drafted James Wiseman with the second pick in 2020 and Jonathan Kuminga with the seventh pick in last year’s draft. Moreover, with the lost seasons of the last two seasons, it allowed young players like Poole to gain more confidence on the court.

Not many teams would dare to invest in both the present and the future, especially in this era where the superstars of the teams force their respective teams to go all in for the chance to win now. The Warriors are unique in that their stars let their front office make the moves and trust the process. We could very well be seeing the passing of the torch from Curry to Poole in a couple years as the next superstar to lead the Bay Area.

Source: Heavy

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