SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob says he’s not a tweeter, but if he were to send a tweet, he knows exactly what it would say.
“I would tweet, ‘Tonight Chase Center is finally finished with construction,’ ” Lacob told Yahoo Sports Sunday night after Klay Thompson made his season debut after spending nearly two years recovering from ACL and Achilles tears. “We’re halfway through our third year in this building, and I feel like Klay is the final piece to the construction.”
Thompson registered 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting and 3-of-8 from 3-point range in 20 minutes in the Warriors’ 96-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors were without the five-time All-Star for a span of 941 days. Now that the dynasty core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson are back together, the Warriors are eager to get back to being steady title favorites.
“Our goal is to be great throughout this decade,” Lacob told Yahoo Sports. “We had a great last decade and our goal is to set ourselves up for another great decade. We’ve got Steph, Klay and Draymond for the next several years at a high level, hopefully longer. [Andrew] Wiggins is only 26. With [Jordan] Poole, [James] Wiseman, [Jonathan] Kuminga and [Moses] Moody, we’ve got a lot of talent to develop and a lot of work to do, but we’re pretty excited.”
The highly anticipated 2019 move to San Francisco, home of Chase Center, didn’t feature the stars many envisioned months prior. Thompson tore his Achilles in the NBA Finals and had a long recovery ahead of him, and Kevin Durant departed to Brooklyn in free agency that summer.
Suddenly, championship aspirations were on hold and the luster of the new building lost some steam.
“It was obviously not ideal circumstances,” Lacob told Yahoo Sports. “And last year we unfortunately lost Klay for a second year due to the Achilles injury, but I think we did a pretty good job. We would have made the playoffs if it wasn’t for that play-in format, which wasn’t bad. But now we’ve got all the pieces back together and we’ve had a good offseason and we drafted some young guys that haven’t gotten a chance to play yet that we really like. So I feel like this is our first year of getting back after the five-year title run. We’ll see where it goes. I’m not assuming anything at this point, but we certainly have a lot of talent, a really good team and I think it will jell even more so as we go along this year.”
Thompson didn’t show much rust on Sunday night, but there will obviously be growing pains to returning to the court after a long layoff. How long it will take Thompson to regain his All-Star form will determine how far the Warriors can go this season.
Also the team’s success in the short and long term remains glued to Curry, who is an early MVP candidate, maintaining his All-NBA prowess. Curry turns 34 in two months. Lacob believes Curry has much more left in the tank.
“Well, Tom Brady’s 44 now. I tell Steph all the time, ‘Do whatever he does. Whatever he does, you do.’ I told him that,” Lacob told Yahoo Sports. “But who knows? The world is changing a lot and maybe I’m just being my usual optimist self. But I feel like Steph can play at a high level, and maybe Klay, too, for longer than most people would have done in the past. Those are skill guys. High-skill guys. So, I don’t know how long, but we all assume we’ve got two or three really great years with the core, and the great news about that is even if they did drop off, we think the young guys would have developed by then, which is our plan. But if they can continue to play at a high level, that’s even better. So maybe it’s more than three years.”
Sunday was Klay Day, and he didn’t disappoint on the court and in his postgame news conference. The Warriors are healthy, and could be on the verge of taking over the NBA once again.
“Klay was fantastic in just getting to this point,” Lacob told Yahoo Sports. “And he obviously came out there and did what he does: shoot the ball, which is great. Just like Steph’s 3-point record, we got through this as a team. We’ve had a lot of big events, and this is a big event. It’s hard to believe it’s been two and a half years for Klay. That’s a long time. It’s just great to get Klay and Steph back and now the first time to really see the whole team together. It’s the first time we’ve really had it here at Chase.
“We’re doing everything we can as an ownership group and as a management team to win. Our goal is to win championships obviously. We’ll see what happens. There are no guarantees in life. This is my 12th year, and one thing you learn in this league is that every single year it surprises you that some players get a lot better. Jordan Poole is a surprise for a lot of people. Some people get older fast and all of a sudden they go off a cliff. You never really know what’s going to happen. Teams get better, teams get worse. You just got to stick with it, and I think we’re set up with a lot of deep talent to hopefully be good this year and in the future. You never know.”