As the basketball world outside chewed its fingernails to stubs over the unfolding courtship of Kevin Durant, Warriors General Manager Bob Myers sat in his office cycling restlessly through the relatable stages of infatuation and pursuit.
“I was always wondering, am I doing enough? Should I be doing something different? Should I try to call him? You don’t really know what the right approach is.”
Whatever approach Myers took, it was the right one. The whispers that started midway through last season solidified into negotiations, and Myers eased his way “Hold on Loosely” by 38 Special-style into the magnum opus of his young career: Kevin Durant as a Golden State Warrior.
Even seated next to Durant on a stage at Golden State’s practice facility in downtown Oakland during Thursday’s welcoming press conference, Myers was in disbelief.
Myers told the crowd of reporters and fans:
“I still can’t believe I’m sitting next to him.”
“I really did not think this was going to happen.”
Myers was undoubtedly armed with the allure of a potential fistful of rings when recruiting Durant, but believes the team’s culture as much as its prosperity was the tipping factor in Durant’s decision:
“Once you win a championship your team is on a different level of credibility. But I’m not sure that’s what it is. I think, for whatever reason, we were fortunate enough to put together a team that people would watch and want to be a part of. That’s a feeling. That’s not winning and losing. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine that’s what Kevin based his decision on.”
A former NBA agent with more than $575 million in contracts attributed to his negotiation skills, Myers is often credited for packing muscle onto the skeleton of Golden State’s championship team. He was quietly named 2015 NBA Basketball Executive of the Year after hiring Head Coach Steve Kerr, adding talented depth to the roster and declining the infamous close-call Kevin Love for Klay Thompson trade.
“When I was hired (in 2012) Steph Curry was here. That’s probably the greatest gift you could place upon someone. I was part of the group that helped draft Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes and traded for Andrew Bogut. How did we get here? Fortune, hard work, good luck, and things falling into place.”
This year, he weaved his way around the free agent re-signings of Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Leandro Barbosa, and dealt Andrew Bogut in a trade to the Dallas Mavericks to make room for Durant’s two-year $54.3 million deal.
“A lot of things had to fall into place. The cap went up, so to sit here and say this was orchestrated or we knew this was going to happen… I didn’t think this was going to happen until he called on July 4th.”
Golden State’s roster has room for improvement despite the addition of Durant. In the hours after closing the Durant deal, Myers landed former Mavericks’ center Zaza Pachulia, a worthy predecessor to Bogut’s steady presence, for a modest $2.9 million. And Myers said he isn’t done yet:
“We need some depth, we need some guard depth. We have Zaza as our only true center right now, so we do need things. It’s a long season and we’re going to add players. Players come here because they want to be coached by our coach and play with our players.”
If the Golden State Warriors can do anything to ascend into dynasty territory, it’s to continue to trust Myers’ discretion.
With a promising but un-fleshed roster in 2012, he calculated. When the big-name trade offer was laid out in 2015, he calculated. And now, his calculations have culminated into one of the best on-paper, crunch-time 5’s of all time in Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green and Andre Iguodala.
“We just put in our best effort, and it usually doesn’t result in anything of this magnitude. It probably never will again. When you go into the offseason you hope to make your team 1 percent better, 2 percent better. To make your team immeasurably better is not something you really plan on. That’s our goal, to get better.”