"I have always considered the Warriors as a franchise that could potentially be one of the premiere organizations in the NBA due to their market and incredible fans."
That's what Bob Myers said back in the April 2011 press release from the Warriors. He had just been hired to be the team's assistant GM. Before joining the Warriors, he had spent years working as super-agent Arn Tellem's right hand man, representing NBA players Brandon Roy, Antawn Jamison, and DeAndre Jordan, among others.
As one of the recipients of Sports Business Journal's 40 under 40 awards for most influential sports business figures under the age of 40, he was already wildly successful as an agent, and had negotiated nearly $600 million in contracts for his clients. Still, he always wanted to get a job with a team, especially his favorite team... his hometown Golden State Warriors.
That's right, Bob Myers is a Bay Area native, having grown up in Alamo, California. He used to go to Warriors games with his dad. Who do you think was the favorite player for the man who drafted Draymond Green? I'll give you a clue: he was a power forward with the nickname "Mr. Mean". If you guessed Larry Smith (the team's career rebounding leader of the Oakland era), then you've been following the team long enough to appreciate the passion that Bob Myers brings to his job.
Even when the franchise was at it's worst, when Myers was working on his law degree at Loyola, he said, "Jamison gave me a big Warriors gray sweatshirt. I'd wear it to law school every night -- and get abuuuused. They said, 'You live in L.A. Why don't you just be a Lakers fan?' I said I'm a Warriors fan. I'm not going to change."
This is my kind of guy.
The Warriors' roster management seems to be a braintrust. The coach, GM, Jerry West, and Joe Lacob all have discussions about which players to go after and who to keep, with Lacob and his checkbook rightfully having the final say. The original "Voltron of minds" (all credit to Evanz for that gem) was (in order of likely influence): Lacob, Myers, West, Riley, and Jackson. They amnestied Charlie Bell, drafted Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler, and Charles Jenkins, and traded Monta Ellis, Kwame Brown, and Ekpe Udoh for Andrew Bogut, Richard Jefferson, and a first round pick. And they decided to tank the end of the 2012 season, giving them three picks in the upcoming draft.
Near the end of the season, Larry Riley officially stepped down from decision making to become the Director of Scouting and Bob Myers was promoted to general manager. While the Golden State of Mind community seemed relatively split on the decision (which came towards the end of the tank campaign), longtime Warriors blogger Feltbot was completely unimpressed.
"Myers has absolutely no experience as a player, coach, scout or talent evaluator at the NBA level" , he wrote, "Bob Myers is not an NBA basketball guy, in any way shape or form."
While Feltbot claimed that Myers was just a figurehead, a front office puppet, and even a fall guy for the inevitable failings Joe Lacob was destined for, the other members of the front office have since made it clear that Myers is a central figure in all of the team's decisions.
There's the passionate NBA legend (West), the self-described in-house antagonist/son-of-the-co-owner (Kirk Lacob), the noted pessimist (Schlenk), the decision-maker (Myers) and the boss (Joe Lacob), with coach Steve Kerr using his past as the Suns GM as a
backdrop as he watches this group work.
Of course, the Steve Kerr wasn't on board yet, and Mark Jackson's voice was in the room for roster decisions. The braintrust had three picks to use in the draft, and used them on Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green, all of whom have started and played critical roles for playoff bound Warriors teams.
The first draft of the Bob Myers era has to be considered a massive success, but Myers' real strength as a lifelong agent was contract negotiation. At the start of the 2012 season, Bob Myers proved his real worth, signing the Warriors' star guard Stephen Curry to a four year, $44 million contract. He also traded Dorell Wright for Jarrett Jack, and signed free agent Carl Landry to a one year deal.
The team made the playoffs for the first time since Joe Lacob bought the team, and advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals.
While the Voltron of Minds would lay out a plan, Bob Myers still had the challenge of actually making the moves happen. Like the NCO of the Warriors military, someone had to do the work. That summer, Myers made the impossible happen. With a magic trick that would confound Gandalf, Myers managed to turn Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, and a handful of late draft picks into Andre Iguodala.
Not only that, but Iguodala even signed with the Warriors for less than he had been offered by the Kings and Nuggets! Recognizing that Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack were about to get massively overpaid, Myers attempted to patch the hole created in the roster by their departure by splitting his only remaining free agent contract, the MLE, between Toney Douglas and Marreese Speights. Neither player fit quickly, and Douglas was traded away for Jordan Crawford. Speights would prove his worth to the Warriors a season later. That fall, Myers inked Andrew Bogut to a contract extension. Shrewdly, the price would decrease every year, just like Iguodala's.
There were other, smaller moves made in Myers' first few seasons... Jermaine O'Neal, Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore, Marshon Brooks, and Steve Blake all played a bit for the team, but none of them managed to stick with the roster.
The Warriors improved again, but not as quickly as ownership felt they could. After falling in the first round of the playoffs, the team had a few major decisions to make.
The first was to fire the head coach. Mark Jackson and his staff had a controversial season that included internal strife among the coaches, public insults to injured players, a mediocre offense, and a tension between the front office and the head coach. The staff was replaced by Steve Kerr, Alvin Gentry, and Ron Adams, with Luke Walton, Jarron Collins, and Bruce Fraser in support roles.
The second move was a non-move. The Minnesota Timberwolves were looking to move All Star stretch big man Kevin Love, and the Warriors were the most likely trade partner. According to reports, the Warriors offered David Lee and Harrison Barnes, but Minnesota wanted Klay Thompson and/or Draymond Green added to the package. Myers didn't budge. When Lebron James decided to return to Cleveland, the Cavs became the team that Minnesota wanted to work with, and Love was traded for #1 pick Andrew Wiggins, former #1 pick Anthony Bennett, and Thaddeus Young.
Instead of trading Klay, the team decided to sign Thompson to the richest contract in team history. They weren't done making moves though. Myers added Shaun Livingston with the MLE, and brought in Brandon Rush, Leandro Barbosa, and Justin Holiday to supplement the bench. During the season, Nemanja Nedovic was released, and Ognjen Kuzmic and James Michael McAdoo were both yoyo'd between Santa Cruz and Oakland all season.
The roster is set, and the only contract that doesn't have Myers' fingerprints on it is David Lee's. The team that started guys like Mickell Gladness, Mikki Moore, Dominic McGuire, Charles Jenkins, and Chris Wright when Myers took the job now featured an MVP, three other current or former All Stars, a Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, another likely All NBA Defensive team member, a former Sixth Man of the Year and a current Sixth Man candidate. Oh, and the runner-up Coach of the Year.
67 regular season wins, the #1 overall seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. A first round sweep of the Pelicans.
Bob Myers is a fan turned player turned agent turned executive, and the league has noticed. He was voted the Executive of the Year last week, but the truth is he's been doing a great job the whole time. He's responsible for a lot of the blessings Warriors fans can count, and he should be counted among those blessings.
Congratulations Bob Myers, and thank you for your hard work. We notice it, and we appreciate it. And from one fan to another, I hope you're enjoying this season as much as I am!