In Brooklyn a couple of days back, Bob Myers realized something he has rarely seen as Golden State’s general manager or even dating to his days as a busy sports agent: Nobody wanted to be traded from the NBA’s worst team.
“That’s unprecedented,” Myers said Friday after dealing much of the Warriors roster this week.
Golden State dealt D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans III and Omari Spellman to the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline for Andrew Wiggins and draft picks — Minneosta’s first-rounder and second-rounder in 2021, unless the first-rounder is in the top three and then it would roll over to 2022.
It was “somber” as Myers put it after Golden State opted to send so many players packing for new opportunities. He felt it. Coaches felt it. The young Warriors said heartfelt farewells, having built tight bonds by being thrown into the fire because of injuries to stars such as Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and following Kevin Durant’s offseason departure to the Nets.
Myers appreciates how this group competed and cared so much despite a 12-40 record that ranks last in the league for a franchise that reached the past five NBA Finals during a remarkable run that included championships in 2015, ’17 and ’18.
“I hope our environment makes me better, makes players better. We were talking about the difficulty of trading those guys the other night in Brooklyn and somebody mentioned to me, ‘This is really rough on our culture,’ and I said, ‘You know what’s amazing, we have the worst record in the NBA, not one player wanted to go.’ That’s unprecedented,” Myers said, applauding coach Steve Kerr’s role and the support of owner Joe Lacob.
“I promise you there’s a lot of good players on a lot of good teams that don’t want to be there, so that says something about what Steve has built with his staff, what Joe’s done with what he’s provided for the players but you just don’t see that. I promise you as an agent, trade deadline I had guys on really good teams saying ‘I don’t want to be here.’ ... If our environment can’t make people better then we’re doing something wrong.”
Now, Golden State will go forward looking to the future with an ability to spend big come free agency this summer.
Even with all the change, Myers still expects that “we’re still going to spend a lot.”
“As painful as it was to move some of these guys and do that, the thinking was that going into 2020 summer it provided some flexibility and maneuverability with our payroll,” he said. “... But there are degrees where you have to be responsible and just say, ’Listen, we can do this, it’s going to be a short-term pain but maybe an ability to provide more optionality going forward.”
To help fill out the roster Friday, Golden State signed Ky Bowman and Marquese Chriss after they had previously been two-way players splitting with the G-League Warriors. Juan Toscano-Anderson was promoted from the G League club.
“Sometimes you just do what you do in the moment and you live with whatever comes after it,” Myers said. “If it works, great, you get applauded. And if not, you get criticized, and that’s the job.”
Myers took a moment Friday and pondered just how fast things change in professional sports.
“I was walking over here thinking last year we had the best record in the NBA, now we have the worst,” he said. “In 24 months. And our roster has lost Durant. It’s just crazy.”