Chris Paul

What will the NBA be like when the Warriors move to San Francisco?

Ever since Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors, Lacob has answered every question regarding the duo’s desire to commission and subsequently move into a sparkly new Panda Hat Pavilion of their own next to AT&T Park by saying something like this:

“We’re a Bay Area team. We consider the whole Bay Area our market, whether we’re located in San Francisco or Oakland.”

On Thursday evening a little context was added to that thought, coming from this article in the Chronicle titled, “Warriors explore stadium options”:

Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have talked about the need to replace Oracle Arena in Oakland since buying the basketball team in July 2010, but this is the first time they have publicly stated their intent to explore options in San Francisco. They have also had discussions with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan about building an arena at their current East Bay site.

“The potential for building an arena near AT&T Park is very exciting,” Lacob said. “The Giants have done some remarkable things over there. It’s a great ballpark that revitalized an entire part of the city.

“It took a year to get our feet wet, examine the organization and make a lot of changes. Step 2 is starting the process of getting a new arena somewhere in the Bay Area. We’re a Bay Area team. We consider the whole Bay Area our market, whether we’re located in San Francisco or Oakland.”

Lee reached out to the Warriors and Giants last week to set up the meeting. The Warriors then contacted Quan and scheduled an advance meeting.

Whether the Warriors are meeting with Quan to assuage Oakland-leaning fans who’ll be upset when the Warriors make the move to San Francisco or they’re just being nice to Oakland’s mayor after what’s been a … tough month, the Warriors are moving to San Francisco. They’ll once again play in “The City,” a 2-word phrase that’ll appear on future Warriors jerseys, not just on the “Hardwood Classics” worn on turn-back-the-clock nights.

Looking into the future, the Warriors fleeing the East Bay to San Francisco appears to be a lock. This wasn’t too hard to predict, even for yours truly (I recently wrote that East Bay professional sports as a whole may become a distant memory). What’s far less certain is how the league the Warriors play in is going to operate.

Thursday was crazy for the NBA, and it’ll only get stranger. It started with the Warriors supposedly on the verge of signing Tyson Chandler (who was probably just using the Warriors to get better offers from other teams like the Knicks, whom he was reportedly set to sign with on Friday). It ended with a Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade getting vetoed and everyone angrier than they ever seemed during the lockout:

The owners: Dan Gilbert sent the kind of email to David Stern, Adam Silver and a few sympathetic owners one would expect to see in a fantasy league after two teams were suspected of collusion. Gilbert even compared “25 of the 30 teams” to “the Washington Generals.” Mr. Comic Sans, he’s a real character! Then there’s Jerry Buss, who probably wants to get back at these jealous small-market owners the same way Al Davis once torched Lane Kiffin via overhead projector.

The Players: It’s not just Chris Paul, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Luis Scola and Kevin Martin that are upset — every player in the league is wondering what the hell’s going on and who they should clown first: owner Gilbert or commissioner Stern. There have even been calls for the players to go on strike to support Paul. Not that the players would be in a rush to miss more paychecks, but Danny Granger sounds like he’s willing to pay a fine.

The Hornets: Why would they have any reason to believe anything they do matters? The haul of players and picks they were set to receive for a guy who was out the door after the upcoming truncated season was outstanding. Paul did a great job at elevating mediocre teams without any legitimate depth, but the vetoed trade would have left the Hornets in better shape than they were with Paul. Now their general manager is wondering what reason he has to continue trying to form a team for a group of owners who can’t decide how or why they want New Orleans’ roster manipulated.

The Fans: As usual, the paying customers are alienated and expected to bounce back like they always do. Sure, this is highly entertaining theater — rarely are struggles among the rich and powerful leaked to the media with such gleeful transparency. The NBA certainly isn’t lacking for star talent or storylines. However, after the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Kings, Tim Donaghy’s hijinks and old anecdotes like the oft-rumored rigging of the 1985 Draft Lottery to get Patrick Ewing to the Knicks, the kind of tomfoolery seen on Thursday leads fans to have worse gripes about the NBA than “there’s not enough competitive balance.”

Now Marcus Thompson’s reporting that the Warriors would still be interested in rekindling talks with the Hornets in an effort to get their man, CP3. It makes sense, even though it would be awfully strange for the NBA to allow Paul to be traded to any other team but the Lakers after what happened on Thursday. The Warriors don’t care; all’s fair in love and basketball, and at 26 Paul’s at the age where he could still be anchoring the team when they start playing in a shiny new palace next to AT&T Park.

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