Tonight I and some other season ticket holders that had some “concerns” about this year, the team and the coaching got to meet Robert Rowell before the Timberwolves game and he spent a good ¾ of an hour answering some pretty frank questions.
First and foremost I have to say, he didn’t dodge one question, was extremely honest and took genuine interest in the points raised. I will give you some of the content, some of which many of you are going to be quite surprised at.
RR made it very clear he does not read newspapers or blogs as more often than not, people create complete fiction just to try and grab some headlines. I don’t think anyone in the room had any doubt who he was aiming this at, possibly a certain person writing for the Mercury News.
The first main topic of conversation was Baron Davis’s departure and the events that followed thereafter and fans were not happy at some of the signings and the fact that Baron was allowed to go. RR made it very clear that what was published in the newspapers was complete fabrication. He said Baron was never offered just a 3 year contract. He was in fact offered a 5 year contract that could have paid Baron a total based on performance of $75m USD. However the organisation had concern about his ability to see out a season and so the contract was broken into 3 parts. It was a guaranteed contract for 3 years with a certain number of games having to have been played in years 2 and 3 in order to trigger year 4, likewise performance in years 3 and 4 to trigger year 5. Had Baron been prepared to commit to that deal, he would have made $75m USD. He was also offered another option to opt in to his exisiting agreement that would have been worth an extra $17m USD. However HE chose to turn that down and go for a straight non-performance related deal with the Clipps, his choice. Personally I found that very interesting and I can understand why the organization was concerned about his fitness and it seems....so did Baron, which is why he went for the guaranteed lesser amount offered by the Clipps!
He went on to discuss other players that were let go. Again very honest and he said "the biggest regret he has on players that have left is the loss of J-Rich, in his personal opinion that deal should not have been done." This obviously led on to question as to “who” then is picking the “talent” as he calls it. He stated that there is a team that seeks talent and a team that coaches that talent and a team that manages the club. He explained that Don Nelson’s role is the coaching and while he is a very big fan of Nellies and his style of play, he felt some comments that were made to the press this year should have stayed within house; for example the Randolph discussions and the Crawford statement.
RR admits he likes Crawford, but at the moment it is clear a Crawford Ellis backcourt does not work and leaks defensive points like a sieve. However he made it very clear that Nellie had no business discussing the Crawford options to the media or be quite so vocal about discussions he had with Randolph. He did however state very clearly that Randolph was actually getting continually “outplayed” in every practice by Rob Kurz at the start of the year and he said something like, “Kurz...Rob Kurz....can you believe that, he should never have been outplayed by Rob, he simply was not working hard enough in practice and needed a kick in the butt”. He went on to describe that Nellie was right to treat him the way he did, however management did like what they saw in Randolph and Morrow and pushed a little to see those two players more on court. He believes both have great potential for this league and most importantly this organisation. It was clear to me that he was saying loud and clear that Randolph and Morrow are both key figures for the Warriors future that won’t be going anywhere.
This lead on to what changes are going to be made and whose fault were some of these bad player choices? He said...”well are you happy with 28 wins?” He mentioned that first and foremost he is a Golden State Warriors Fan and 28 wins simply is not good enough, but then no one expected the star player to go fall off a moped having signed a very nice contract and then lie to the organisation about the injury thereafter. He said, “How could we have seen that coming as an incident?” He was then pushed further on the Monta issue and whether the contract will be voided. He said “absolutely not, it’s in the past, the contract is not going to be voided and anyone who suggests otherwise is simply talking hot air, it’s NEVER going to happen, it was an extremely unfortunate event, but it is in the past, over.” He was then asked if changes are going to be made where will they be and is Monta the first choice for PG?
RR stated that he does not think that anyone has seen Monta play as a true PG yet, with a fully healthy team behind him. He believes that given the right players around him, he can actually do a good job at the PG. My interpretation of that is that Crawford might be an option to switch with Ellis on court i.e. off the bench and Morrow as the SG? Or possibly someone else in the SG position maybe Jackson? However, I wouldn’t be surprised if we made a move over the summer for another Vet that might take the place of Crawford and that could have a better playing style to complement Ellis and help develop his PG skills and no I don’t think that will be BD!! Maybe Kidd?
Questions were then asked of Jackson. He went on to describe that for all Jacks mistakes and moments when he is cold, he is one of the hardest working members on the team for Defence and this is one of the primary reasons why Nellie keeps him in the game so much as there just is not enough effort being made on D in other areas. He also pointed out that when jackson is on form he is an excitingplayer to watch and is a very dangerous weapon against teams when on fire.
He also went on to state that the “Centre” position is not even open for discussion, he believes it is the strongest it has been for decades and that Andris is VERY much part of this teams future. I heard his tone and saw the body language and he is either a very good poker player or he is genuinely keeping Biedrins in this club, no matter what. I got the impression that he is possibly a bigger fan of AB to stay at the club than anyone even more so than Ellis, Morrow and Randolph. He see's Andris "without doubt as a future All-Star", in his words. He stated that he wants to see the young guys develop more and Nelson will get this job done with them. He stated that even though the young guys who have been playing well together in the last few games, "they" as a unit are no way good enough or at the level expected by the organisation for this club to have opportunity to fight for playoff positions. So he said.... ”Yes we will have to make some changes”.
The way he was discussing the team, I think he was making it clear that Biedrins , Morrow, Randolph, (I think) Ellis, Turiaf, are all key pieces for this organisation next year most likely along with Jackson and probably Buike. Nobody else was really mentioned and therefore my read of that is that no one else’s position on the team is safe.
He said he understands that the fans have been unhappy with the situation this year but he also stated that the club felt this even more and the injuries have been like no other year. I have to say I was impressed with his responses and the manner in which he gave them as I truly believe his responses were genuine and he is very keen to make certain changes in the off season by whatever means to make this club a real contender in the West. Read into that what you will?
The conversation went on to Chris Mullin the relationship with coaching staff and the organisation at large. He mentioned the fact that he likes Chris Mullin a great deal and that it was him that brought CM back to the organisation and again he highlighted that a great deal of the “Internal War” that is supposedly going on, is again fabricated Horse crap by certain journalists. He stated that CM’s contract was not extended to simply see how some of the latest draft picks develop, following on from some not so good past performances. He made it very clear that the organisation is less than happy with a number of the recent draft picks (Like POB) that have simply been bad and there were a number of contracts made in the past that were also truly bad.
But he stated that they recognised that and the organisation has done everything in their power to rectify those past mistakes. He stated that there is the coaching staff, their focus is purely geared to the development of the players they are given. There is the “Talent” team whose job it is to go find the players and then the Management who have to justify the choices and have input where required if it is clear that certain choices are not delivering enough to the team, i.e the team is not winning and therefore may need to go.
I followed on from this with a question then about the current situation and rather than have to have injured players get suited up to simply make 8 players, could they not go and get a player like Hendrix who knows a lot of the plays to help fill a gap on a 10 day contract? He said there was no reason at all why they couldn't , but the coaching staff didn’t want to and preferred to run with the guys they have for the last few games.
The discussion then changed tack slightly and went on to season tickets, pricing, etc and that as a season ticket holder, it’s hard to see people coming in and sitting in considerably better seats AND having paid less than many season ticket holders for their seats further back.
He said... ”First thing I will say is, if you were in Club 200 this year YOU WERE SCREWED! this year you were completely screwed!” I kid you not, those were his exact words. He said, “unfortunately with the economy the way it went, they simply did not foresee the speed at which the economy was going to fail just as they could not foresee someone falling off a moped (which I thought was quite funny that he raised that again). But he said “as the President of a business, I have to make decisions that try to generate as much revenue as possible due to the ever increasing Salary base among other things that must be met, that means if seats are empty, we have to offer promotions to sell some of those seats, however that meant that certain season ticket holders got a rough deal”. He did go on to state that he believes the lower bowl is extremely good value for money versus other arenas and he will stand by that as they have compared pricing of the lower bowl to other arenas.
I then jumped in with follow up question as to how and why Club 200 season ticket holders were treated so poorly? I think I said something along the lines of “As you have said this is about running a business, you’re doing it, I’m doing it, so I understand that no one could have foreseen the crash in the economy or certain injuries however, it’s the reaction thereafter that I cannot understand.” I continued, “To me it is not rocket science to know that your very bread and butter income, comes from Season Ticket holders and as one of those Club 200 STH’s, we have received ZERO in the way of proper customer care, which means that if you have unhappy STH’s, they won’t renew and if so, you end up having to spend more money on marketing/advertising to replace those STH’s with new ones, when you could probably spend a great deal less to make those STH’s feel valued and especially when they see seats being sold for $8! Is it really that hard for someone to come up with the idea of maybe offering STH’s the chance to come to practices to meet the players, hold more events at the arena to meet the staff, have STH opportunities to meet the players after a game rather than just kids? Maybe offering free parking vouchers, free beer/food vouchers, huge discounts in the store....I said the list is truly endless at what could have been done and nothing was done, which in my personal opinion and experience in the field of sales and marketing was dire and beyond a joke. Add to that the fact that people have to wait sometimes a whole quarter to get a Burger and ‘my what pricey burgers’ they are too! Could it possibly be useful to have soft drinks, Popcorn, Pretzels and peanuts, cold items on carts, thus saving the stands for Beer and hot food? This would surely help reduce the lines?, In short I feel there was a definite DROP in customer care this year as compared to last year, which considering the price hikes, is why you have many people not wanting to renew tickets”.
His answer was a simple as this “ I have no answer for you, all your points are valid and very much taken onboard, what I can tell you is that I have to kick the backsides of those guys at the back of the room and there will be changes for next year. You have my apologies we simply did not do a good enough job this year for Club 200 season ticket holders but that will change”.
It was then pretty much 7.30 and game time and he wrapped up by saying that he truly appreciates every season ticket holder and as such whenever complaints are made they are read. But it is this organisations intention to continue to make changes to make this team better, but the young core and coaching staff will remain but that they will expect instant results next year and he hopes to be able to show fans next year that this year was a blip on the growth of the franchise and thus back to the playoffs next year.
And that as they say folks, is about as much as I can remember as I didn’t take in a digital recorder, so had to rely on the grey matter to remember!! It’s now 1.40am and my beds calls!
In conclusion, my overall impression of the guy I have to say has been changed considerably from that which is often portrayed in the media. I think he genuinely is doing what he can to ensure performance for the club, however in doing so, he has to pass responsibility to others to do their part and their job! Some players may not like that, but as he says, "this is a business first and foremost." However I do expect there to be quite a few changes to the roster, this is my guess and purely personal opinion, but I think that maybe trade talk for Bosh is unlikely, as I think Turiaf and Biedrins are set for next year. I think there is a chance Crawford might stay but only as a bench rotation for Ellis and whether he wants that or not remains to be seen? I also think Jackson, Randolph, Morrow are all set to return, my guess there could be question over Magette, Belinelli, Wright, Davidson, CJ possibly even Buike as maybe his stock value has increased considerably this year, but I hope we keep him. Rob Kurz....sorry but I think it’s bye bye Warriors for you sir! Oh and a certain Chris Mullin I would expect to announce that he will be joining somewhere else over the summer.
It was a fascinating evening and following on from my points, RR and I spoke very briefly as I left and he said he would be in touch to discuss certain issues further. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to have some valuable time with the guy and I am sure the other fans that were there around maybe 15-20 season ticket holders, also enjoyed chance to ask open questions and get answers straight from the top of the tree! We all then got the opportunity to watch the game from corporate suites; I could hear Ray just above me to the left! ;)
I hope and trust some of you find the thread above interesting and maybe there are at least one or two elements within it that you didn’t know before and some that “may” shed some light on possible changes over the summer, it will be interesting to come back to this article in September and see how accurate any of these thoughts/comments were.
Writing all this took my mind off a loss to the T-Wolves........sigh! Andris it was all your fault...you threw off the youngsters rhythm! ;)