Rick Welts

Warriors President Rick Welts calls Chase Center 'second beginning'

Warriors President Rick Welts calls Chase Center 'second beginning'

It’s been over 900 days since the Warriors broke ground on Chase Center, the organization’s new privately funded arena in San Francisco.

Team president Rick Welts recently brought the first group of media members inside Chase Center, and sat down inside the nearly completed facility for a podcast with ABC7’s Casey Pratt. 

Welts spoke about a variety of new features coming with the opening of Chase Center, and he was asked whether this will be the start of a new era for the Warriors.

“We’re in the middle of a run, we’re not at the end of anything and this is a second beginning,” Welts told the “With Authority” podcast.

The Warriors roster is certainly going to look like a brand-new team in 2019-20, as the team will have D’Angelo Russell starting alongside Steph Curry after Kevin Durant’s departure and Klay Thompson’s ACL tear will keep him out for much of the season. Many NBA experts were putting an end to the Warriors dynasty after the loss in the 2019 NBA Finals this past June to the Toronto Raptors.

Welts also spoke about plans to build a hotel on the property with a feature designed for opposing teams traveling to the Bay Area. 

[RELATED: Warriors' preseason schedule for 2019-20 includes four games vs. Lakers]

“Imagine a floor that’s just for NBA players, everything is oversized, the shower, the bed, everything else. You’d never have to leave your hotel to walk to the locker room.”

Although the inside of the arena is still on a “media blackout,” fans can look forward to getting their first glimpse at a game atmosphere inside Chase Center when the Warriors welcome the Los Angeles Lakers for the team’s first preseason game on Oct. 5.

Kelenna Azubuike to be Warriors TV game analyst; Jim Barnett to radio

NBC Sports Bay Area

Kelenna Azubuike to be Warriors TV game analyst; Jim Barnett to radio

When the Warriors make their regular-season debut at Chase Center in October, there will be plenty of new faces, beginning with the team’s roster. The same will apply to their telecasts and radio broadcasts.

Kelenna Azubuike, a member of the “We Believe” Warriors of 2006-07, is joining the squad as an analyst working alongside longtime NBC Sports Bay Area play-by-man voice Bob Fitzgerald.

And, no, Jim Barnett is not retiring.

Barnett will return for his 35th season providing opinion and insights, but his medium will change. He is moving to the radio booth to team up with longtime radio voice Tim Roye on 95.7 FM The Game.

“I think it’s fantastic that I can continue working for the Warriors,” Barnett said Friday. “I’m very grateful for everything I’ve had over the years. Tim is a really good guy, and does a great job. I’m looking forward to it.”

It’s important to note that while Azubuike is moving into the seat Barnett occupied for 34 years, he owes a debt of gratitude to Barnett, who entered broadcasting nine years after his retirement in 1977.

“Jim was actually one of the first people I talked to when I was thinking about getting into broadcasting,” said Azubuike, who retired in 2012. “He actually connected me with NBC Sports Bay Area. If not for him, who knows where I’d be. So, I’m eternally grateful.”

Said Barnett: “I’m glad I was able to help him get into this profession. He’s very capable and he’s a class guy. There’s no one more deserving.”

Azubuike, 35, has spent the last four seasons mostly as a studio analyst at NBC Sports Bay Area while also occasionally providing analysis on radio alongside Roye.

“We think Kelenna is one of the bright, young stars in the broadcasting business,” Warriors president/COO Rick Welts said in a statement issued by the team. “He’s done an outstanding job the last few seasons as a member of our pre, halftime and post-game shows on NBC Sports Bay Area, and his familiarity with our team, our players and our fans dating back to the ‘We Believe’ days will serve him well in this new role.

“His presence will add a new dimension to our TV broadcasts, and we are thrilled with the addition.”

Though Azubuike’s style will differ a bit from that of Barnett – a natural, given the generational gap – one thing that won’t change is honesty and objectivity. Barnett was willing to criticize when the situation called for it, and Azubuike expects to do the same.

“I enjoy breaking down what I see and just reacting on the spot,” he said. “It is kind of whole new thing when compared with the studio. In the studio, we talk about what we think is going to happen (in Warriors Pregame), or our interpretation of what has happened (in Warriors Postgame). But when you’re doing color commentary, you’re reacting on the spot. It’s fun.”

Barnett, 75, has on numerous occasions worked with Roye on radio, usually in postseason games on national TV.

“I’ve had a great run of 34 years on TV,” Barnett said. “And now I’m going to work radio. It’s a natural for me and it’s a nice transition. I’m grateful that the Warriors are giving me a contract to do this.

“You know one of nicest things about working radio? You don’t have to put on makeup.”

Barnett’s continued involvement is sure to be embraced by fans, who have grown accustomed to his knowledgeable point of view and ability to articulate the nuances within the game.

“Jim has been a fixture on our broadcast team for over three decades and has served as a comforting and trusted voice for our fans during several different eras of Warriors basketball,” Welts said in the statement. “From Sleepy Floyd’s incredible playoff performance in 1987 to our most recent stretch that has included three championships and five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, his outstanding work has been an everyday staple on the airwaves.”

[RELATED: Where Livingston wants to end career after Warriors release]

Both Azubuike and Barnett will travel with the team for road games. Both also are scheduled to join Fitzgerald for the first telecast from Chase Center.

“A huge thank you to the NBC Sports Bay Area for preparing me for this,” said Azubuike, who has done color commentary for multiple media outlets. “And I’m grateful to the Warriors, to (co-owners) Joe Lacob and Peter Guber for giving me this opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m so pumped. The season can’t come fast enough.”

Warriors agree to multiyear contract extensions with Bob Myers, Rick Welts

Warriors agree to multiyear contract extensions with Bob Myers, Rick Welts

Two days before NBA free agency opens, the Warriors locked up two key members of the organization.

Golden State agreed to multiyear contract extensions with president of basketball operations/general manager Bob Myers and president Rick Welts, the team confirmed Friday.

“We feel that Rick and Bob are two of the best leaders in professional sports and, quite honestly, in any line of business,” Warriors co-chairman and CEO Joe Lacob said in a statement released by the team. “Their vision, creativity and humility are characteristics that have enabled the Warriors, and them personally, to accomplish terrific heights in this business. These extensions reflect those achievements. We’re extremely grateful for their contributions and are proud that they will continue to lead our organization as we move into Chase Center.”

Myers joined the Warriors in April 2011 as assistant GM and was promoted to GM one year later. He was named NBA Executive of the Year in 2015, promoted to president of basketball operations in September 2016 and named Executive of the Year again in 2017.

Myers is universally viewed as one of the top executives in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers were said to have wanted to interview Myers after Magic Johnson abruptly resigned as LA's president of basketball operations. But Myers laughed off the notion of leaving the Warriors for the dysfunctional Lakers, and he now he'll continue to lead the Warriors into the next decade.

[RELATEDReport: Draymond open to new Warriors deal this summer]

Welts joined the Warriors in September 2011 as president and chief operating officer. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram