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Is Joe Lacob primarily a businessman, or a competitor?

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The Warriors can keep a dynasty, but the price will be steep; will they?

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors have a money question. They became good acquaintances with the luxury tax this year when they re-signed Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, but that’s only the start of it.

Kevin Durant still needs to be locked up long-term. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are nearing the end of their team-friendly deals. Patrick McCaw will be a free agent this coming offseason, with Jordan Bell following the year after.

Can the Warriors keep the band together? Absolutely. Will it cost them a fee never before seen in the NBA? Also absolutely.

At ESPN, former Brooklyn Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks outlined just how much it would cost for the Dubs to retain their superstar core:

By virtue of being in the tax three of the past four seasons (2015-16, 2017-18 and 2018-19), Golden State would be considered a repeater tax team for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

If they don't ink Durant to a long-term deal in 2018 and extend Thompson or Green, three of their four core players -- Durant and Thompson in 2019 and Green in 2020 -- will become unrestricted free agents with the chance to walk. Those luxury tax concerns won't go away even if all three players reach new, discounted deals.

Combined with Durant's and Thompson's projected max salaries and the repeater tax, Golden State is expected to have a record-high $225 million in tax penalties and $178 million in team salary. That, of course, is if both players are signed for the max.

There are, of course, some fiscal technicalities that deserve to be looked at closely, and people financially savvier than I will be tackling those issues throughout this season. Paying Golden State’s four stars may not be as wild as it looks on paper, but still, the point remains: it will take an unprecedented tax penalty to keep this team together.

Which brings us to Joe Lacob, and the concept of sports ownership as a whole.

A sports franchise is a business, and the people who own the teams are businesspeople. And yet, it’s not a typical business for owners. Which is to say, it’s not a particularly smart one.

When Lacob and Peter Guber purchased the Warriors in 2010 for $450 million, it wasn’t because a financial analyst told them to. It wasn’t because, after decades of fiscally beneficial moves, the two men had decided an NBA franchise was an advantageous business decision.

It was because they wanted to own a sports team.

I suspect most of the people reading this wanted to be a professional athlete at one point; I know I sure did. Most of us, sadly, weren’t athletically gifted enough to achieve that dream.

Owning a team is a chance for the uber-wealthy to live out the sports dream that they never had the athletic gifts to accomplish. It’s an opportunity to compete, to celebrate victory, to put a gaudy ring on your finger, and to call yourself a champion alongside the Steph Currys and LeBron Jameses of the world.

It’s not a business opportunity. No one buys a franchise to make money. Lacob essentially ceded as much when Forbes valued the Warriors at $2.6 billion, an outlandish (and likely far too low) return on investment in sports.

Lacob dismissed the valuation, noting that he wouldn’t sell the team for any price, and therefore it isn’t really worth anything. He was essentially admitting that the $450 million he and Guber spent wasn’t an investment; it was merely purchasing a seat at the highest-stakes poker table in the world.

Which returns us to the $400 million roster question at hand. Will Lacob dig deep into his pockets to try and fill his fist with diamond-encrusted championship rings for years to come? Or will he cut some costs, keep the revenue comfortably above the expenses, and run the team as a financial analyst would advise?

A financial analyst would never have advised buying the team in the first place. Hopefully that tells us everything we need to know about how Lacob approaches these huge decisions.