OAKLAND - Warriors general manager Bob Myers found himself in a unique position Thursday evening.
For the first time during his tenure in Golden State, he entered a draft without the luxury of a healthy all-star laden roster. In the last two weeks, pending free agents Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant went down with career-altering injuries that will keep them out for the foreseeable future.
With an average of 47 points lost until at least March, an importance has been levied to find prospects that contribute right away. Instead, with Michigan's Jordan Poole, Former G-Leaguer Alen Smailagic and Villanova's Eric Paschall, Golden State opted to play the long game with draft picks.
"I can't tell you right now which one of the three will might command the most minutes," Myers said Thursday evening. "I really don't know. It's Steve's call, it's actually in the hands of these players. But it doesn't have to be right away, it just has to be at some point."
In recent years, Myers has prioritized defensive-minded playmakers over scorers in the draft. On Thursday, he took Poole - a combo guard most draft observers projected as a second-round pick - with the 28th selection. An hour later, they traded two future second-round picks in 2021 and 2023 to the New Orleans Pelicans for the rights to Smailagic - a Serbian big man who averaged 9.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and an assist for Golden State's G-League team in Santa Cruz. Nineteen picks later, the Warriors selected Paschall with the 58th pick. Following the draft, Myers, despite an immediate need for an immediate contributor, stressed patience for his picks.
"It really matters what they look like a year from now, two or three years from now than what they look like in two weeks or a month," Myers said. "But they're all different, right? So we'll see and they'll all probably grow at different rates, I just hope they all end up in a good place."
Thompson and Durant will be rehabbing from potentially career-altering injuries throughout the season. Thompson - who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and has yet to have surgery - will command a max deal, as will Durant, who is expected to miss next season while he recovers from a torn Achilles. In addition, DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney also will be free agents, and the team will have to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to second-year big man Jordan Bell.
If Thompson and Durant re-sign to five-year max-deals in the coming weeks, the Warriors will have to pay more than $1 billion in salary and luxury tax over the next four years, including a nearly $375 million in salary during the 2019-20 season. This would leave just the taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum deals to help lure free agents, crippling Golden State's ability to bring quality players on the roster. With three extra players added through the draft, Myers' task has gotten harder with free agency starting June 30th.
"This affects the roster spots we have," Myers said. "Affects the ability to sign."
"For us, free agency might be what presents itself. I don't know if we can dictate as far as outspending anybody but hopefully, people view us as a good place. A place they can get in a good culture and a good organization and enjoy going to work every day. We have to rely upon that and hopefully the chance to win for free agents."
For now, Myers, like his newest players, will enter the rest of an uncertain summer with a consistent goal over the next three months.
"I just expect them to be good people and work hard and make us look good," Myers said. "Every year you draft, you put your best foot forward and you hire good people and take your shot."