Suddenly Joe Lacob Has A Budget
10:06 AM EDT on May 18, 2023
It was inevitable that one day Joe Lacob, the guy with the talking wallet who owns the Golden State Warriors, would one day start pinching his pennies. The man for whom they invented the idiom "Price Is No Object" has decided it is now time to hold the line, and the line he is choosing to hold is with general manager Bob Myers.
You know. The principal architect of the thing that took the Warriors from $450 million in value to $7 billion.
Before you go blurting out, "But Stephen Curry," let us do it for you. Curry predates Myers. He also predates Lacob, but let's not get sidetracked. Myers's 12 years in the second-biggest chair have produced four rings, Steve Kerr, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, two Executive of the Year Awards, and might we reiterate, a considerable reason the team's value has increased 16-fold.
As to that last one, before you go blurting out, "But the new arena," let us do it for you. The arena doesn't happen without the championships. San Francisco is not a cheery place for developers, so the reason to carve out all that bayfront property had to be in the product, so yeah, Myers gets a fair piece of credit for that too.
So when Good Ol' Shams and Anthony Slater reported in The Athletic that Lacob and Myers were far apart on a contract extension that should have been done at least a year ago, the only surprise was that Lacob chose to draw a line on his history of profligate spending through the name of the guy who did it for him. The NBA's new collective profit-splitting agreement is harder on serial tax offenders, Lacob notably among them, and while Myers's as-yet-mythical deal does nothing to affect that, it is an indication that Lacob is becoming mindful of the small money that never used to worry him. He has the building, he will have the rest of Curry's career as the cow that generates the cash, and everything else is fungible. Starting with Myers.
It isn't that Myers is necessarily being held accountable for, say, the Jordan Poole overspend and undershow. Lacob and Myers were far apart on contract talks before then. It isn't about the failed draft pick that was James Wiseman, for the same reason. It isn't that the Warriors lost after two rounds rather than the customary four. Lacob has been slowly but perceptibly tilting toward a more frugal conservatorship for a while now, and this is the first tangible sign that there will be more to come. See Kerr's contract, which ends next year, as a likely next dropped sneaker.
Lacob likes to talk about his deep front office, starting with Myers's underboss Mike Dunleavy and Lacob's sons, Kyle and Kirk. But he never referenced that alleged depth until Myers's contract started looming. Myers was thus irreplaceable until he wasn't, and Kerr will be as well. The only truly irreplaceable items in Joe Lacob's new worldview are Curry and Joe Lacob, and not necessarily in that order.
This is not to feel sorry for Myers, who knew this day would eventually come. His resume isn't without its chips and dings—the failed two-tier plan, most notably. But Lacob was part of all of those decisions too, as he likes to say, so this isn't really about Myers's work as much as it is Lacob saying even an excellent general manager is worth X and no more. It's a budget item, as are they all, and with the Warriors apparently easing into a post-championship era the reasons for spending like all the navy's drunken sailors are fading.
Or maybe Myers is actually asking for too much (say, like a bit of equity in the franchise), and his leverage is actually not in staying but leaving. Maybe he's seen Lacob's lean as well and has simply been playing out the hand until a franchise operator with fewer rings and loftier ambitions wants to shop in the expensive aisle.
Still, it's an important thing to note that no owner spends like a maniac forever. Eventually all the bravado and desire for rings and parades and notoriety end, and the budget takes a firmer hold on decision-making. This is just Joe Lacob crossing over to the side all owners are eventually drawn to once they have everything they thought they wanted. Bob Myers was worth every penny he could get until he was only worth every penny Lacob felt like paying him.