OAKLAND – Joe Lacob stands a few feet outside an empty Warriors locker room late Sunday night digesting a season that ended not with celebration but instead with a defeat that sends him back to the laboratory of his mind.
As proud as the team’s CEO is of the previous nine months, he’s already thinking ahead, mentally exploring his options.
Lacob is a man who strives to solve everything, and he firmly believes losing the NBA Finals demands a search for solutions.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” Lacob told CSNBayArea.com. “It was an incredible season: 73 wins, fought a lot of adversity in the playoffs with injuries and NBA suspensions – which other people will comment on, and I’ll leave it to them. But you’ve got to give (the Cavaliers) credit. They did something no one else has ever done. They came back from 3-1 and beat us twice in this place.
“What are you going to do? Just give them credit. We’ll move on and try to get better – and we will do whatever it takes, within reason, to get better.”
Lacob mentioned no names of potential targets; that would be tampering. But the Warriors, always speaking in generalities, have long made it clear they covet Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant.
Aside from building a new arena in his chosen San Francisco location, Lacob would like nothing more than acquiring Durant.
Three factors are behind the desire for Durant, who on July 1 becomes an unrestricted free agent. One, he’s an MVP-level talent. Two, he’s a wing, nearly 7-feet tall, with the ability to guard three positions. Three, his generally mellow personality is perceived to be a seamless fit with a Warriors team that values its chemistry.
With Steph Curry and Draymond Green, the Warriors have two players conceivably among the league’s 10 best players, surely among the top 15. Durant would make three. Add Klay Thompson to the group, and you have four All-Stars.
The Warriors would part with anybody else on their roster if that’s what it takes to land Durant. That was true before Harrison Barnes disappeared too often this season, before Andre Iguodala turned 32, before Andrew Bogut turned 31 and before they actually lost The Finals.
Bringing Durant to Oakland would require serious financial moves, all of which the Warriors are willing to make. The luxury tax would not frighten Lacob, for he’s already paying it.
Durant was in Austin, Tex. Monday for the release of his latest shoe. He told reporters his decision, whether he stays with the only NBA team he’s ever known or departs, would be based not on market-size or profile.
“I’m worried about basketball,” he said. “That’s what it is for me. It’s a basketball decision.”
That opens the door to the Warriors, who have best young core in the league.
Durant reportedly will spend the Fourth of July weekend in the Los Angeles area, where every NBA team that thinks it has a chance – and maybe some that that know they don’t – will seek a meeting. The Warriors are bound to have their say.
Though Durant was born and raised in the Washington D.C.-area, he is comfortable picking up and moving. He left to attend college at Texas. He has bonded with Oklahoma City. For what it’s worth, Durant is quite familiar with the Bay Area. His initial NBA agent, Aaron Goodwin, is based in Oakland.
Durant may not leave Oklahoma City. He’s the centerpiece of an elite team and there are millions of reasons for him to re-sign and stay with the Thunder for at least another year.
But the Warriors will do all they can to lure him West. They are committed to getting better, as soon as possible, and nobody on the market could improve them more than Durant.