OAKLAND – Bob Myers is a busy man.
Less than a week after the Warriors lost their first NBA Finals in three years, Golden State general manager – armed with the 28th and 58th picks: adding a player that can contribute to a crippled roster.
Throughout his tenure – with sharpshooters Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry on the roster – Myers has prioritized defensive-minded playmakers instead of scorers in the draft – most recently rookie guard Jacob Evans. The practice could be put on hold Thursday evening as their two top targets — Durant and Thompson — will be expected to sit out most, if not all, of the 2019-20 season with major rehabilitation timetables. Even if both re-sign, the Warriors will enter next season with two top players on the bench. In preparation for Thursday’s draft, Myers said his staff has worked out between 40 to 50 prospects, prioritizing talent over specific roster needs.
“Good young players, whatever position they are,” Myers said. “Those players have the most value in the NBA – rookie contract players that show themselves to have a skill and can play. Especially next year, we afford more opportunity for who we pick. Maybe we get a guy who can step in. We will have more opportunity next year. No matter what happens in free agency, we’ll have more of an opportunity for a young guy.”
The Warriors’ summer of uncertainty extends past Thompson and Durant. 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.
“We’d like to have as many picks as we can, but I think we have to be aware that we’ve got some youth already,” Myers said. “Who will be back? How many spots will we have to fill? What positions? But we feel like it’s a decently deep draft, so we’ll see if it makes any sense to get another pick and what we would do with it. There’s a lot of moving parts to this one this year.”
Adding to Golden State’s conundrum, Thompson and Durant’s rehab timetable will add to Warriors roster flux. Both will be rehabbing from potentially career-altering injuries. 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. If both players resign to five-year max-deals, 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, leaving just the taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum deals to help lure free agents.
Despite Golden State’s high priced roster, team owner Joe Lacob – who oversees the third most valuable franchise in the NBA, according to Forbes – hasn’t been shy about paying a premium for talent.
“I’m fortunate to work for someone where, people say these things, but winning has really always been the primary goal,” Myers said. “We run a business, so it’s not being completely fiscally irresponsible. But every time that I’ve come to Joe about something that has benefited us competitively, he has responded affirmatively and said, ‘OK.’
“There’s never even really been a hard budget so to speak. We’ve got to be cost-conscious, too, though I think that anybody would, he added. “I think the decisions that we’ve made — don’t trust my words, trust our payroll. Just look at what it is, it’s big.”
A week ago, hours after the team was eliminated Thursday night, forward Draymond Green said it’s “not smart” to bet on Golden State’s demise. Less than a week later, Myers will try to pick playersto make sure his forward’s words ring true.
“You want a guy you can project playing in the playoffs,” Myers said. “That’s what we’re all trying to do – win playoff games. Can you find a guy that has a skill? Can you find a guy that you believe has the potential to do it?”