Analysis: What’s next for Warriors after Kyle Lowry incident? They should oust Mark Stevens

OAKLAND, Calif. – The NBA moved quickly to punish Golden State part-owner Mark Stevens for his inappropriate conduct involving Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called the one-year ban from NBA games and Warriors activities and $500,000 fine appropriate.

Not all thought that was harsh enough considering a team investor – who should know better given the league’s stance on fan behavior – put his hands on a player in an antagonistic manner and then told Lowry to “Go (expletive) yourself” multiple times.

Civil discourse on the topic is important, and a longer ban and larger fine wouldn’t have bothered many. The ban was notable in this case, though, because the Warriors will move into the $1.4 billion Chase Center in San Francisco starting in the 2019-20 season.

Think about how excited owners and other high-end courtside ticket-holders are for that first season in a new arena. The billionaire Stevens won’t be part of those festivities all season. A large part of being an owner and having a front-row seat is the see-and-be-seen factor. Stevens won’t be seen.


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What next? The NBA is done with the matter for now. Silver does not have the authority on his own to force Stevens to divest his shares of the Warriors.

In 2014,  the league was prepared to remove former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling when private recordings of him making racist comments were made public. But that requires ¾ approval of owners to terminate another owner, according to the NBA constitution and bylaws. The NBA never had to go that route because Shelly Sterling eventually persuaded her husband that selling the team was in the best interest of all parties.

Also, that nuclear option – from the commissioner’s position – must be reserved for the most egregious of cases. As bad as Stevens’ actions were, it doesn’t meet the threshold for such actions. The commissioner, who works for the owners, can’t be in the business of jettisoning owners on the regular, or it will be his or her job that is terminated eventually.

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SportsPulse: By choosing to play it safe and rest Klay Thompson, the Warriors took a calculated risk in Game 3. If Thompson and Kevin Durant come back for Game 4, that risk could pay off.

However, that doesn’t mean the Warriors ownership group can’t take further action, and don’t be surprised if that happens.

It is not known how the Warriors’ ownership structure is set up and what’s required to oust Stevens, but it makes sense for the Warriors to replace Stevens. It’s not like there’s not another Silicon Valley billionaire who would love to be part of the ownership group and one who wouldn’t sully the franchise.

This is a serious stain on an organization that has gone to great lengths to make itself one of the best teams on the court and one of the most well-run franchises off it.

The Warriors’ majority owners are angry and embarrassed that this happened in their building by one of their own.

It will be best for the Warriors and the league if Stevens sold his shares. The Warriors don’t have to do anything else, but if they don’t, every time he attends a game or is mentioned as part of the ownership group, the Lowry incident will be discussed.

It was telling on Thursday. Lowry said Stevens should no longer be part of the NBA, and Warriors players came to Lowry’s defense and condemned Stevens’ actions. Players will watch how the Warriors handle the situation moving forward.

Silver said Thursday he has no knowledge of any push from the Warriors to force out Stevens. But for a group that has sold itself as a paragon of NBA ownership, they know what to do.

Now, let's see if they do it.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' columnist Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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