In July of 2017, one of the architects of the Warriors’ championship team, Jerry West, left for the LA Clippers over a money dispute with owner Joe Jacob. This season, with Bob Myers’ contract set to expire in July, could history repeat itself in the Golden State Warriors’ front office?
There’s been no new information about Bob Myers’ future, beyond his pivot to podcasting. Myers refuses to discuss his contract situation during the season, but all indications are that the Warriors team president wants to be paid like one of the NBA’s top executives.
Owner Joe Lacob told Tim Kawakami that Myers “has been compensated very well to this point, in the top three of general managers in this league.” But that’s the not the same as saying that Myers is one of the three highest-paid executives now, and it seems pretty clear that he isn’t. The list of executives believed to be making more than Myers includes “Philadelphia’s Daryl Morey, Toronto’s Masai Ujiri, Miami’s Pat Riley, Minnesota’s Tim Connelly, San Antonio’s R.C. Buford and New York’s Leon Rose.” If Myers became a free agent, he could likely become the best-compensated NBA executive somewhere.
Where would that be? Like Jerry West, he could end up with the Clippers, who are building a new arena and have an owner who doesn’t mind paying a ton of luxury tax. The incumbent team president is Lawrence Frank, but that’s not going to be an impediment to hiring a superstar like Myers, just like the presence of Elton Brand didn’t stop Philadelphia from hiring Daryl Morey.
The Washington Wizards have a messy balance sheet with Bradley Beal’s max contract and Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis both able to become free agents this summer. Owner Ted Leonsis might want to make a change with team president Tommy Sheppard, who hasn’t built a team with a winning record in his four years at the helm.
There’s also a new owner in Phoenix, Mat Ishbia, who is reportedly planning to be a “hands-on owner.” That usually means having his own hand-picked people in place, perhaps not incumbent GM James Jones. The Suns have all their own draft picks going forward, a novelty for Myers after a decade with the Warriors. They also have an opportunity to dramatically remake their roster this offseason, with veteran contracts expiring, Deandre Ayton likely available in trade, and Chris Paul with only $15 million in guaranteed salary remaining. Throw in a young star like Devin Booker and Draymond Green-esque defender in Mikal Bridges, and the Suns job has a lot of appeal.
But perhaps a hands-on owner is a reason Myers still hasn’t re-upped with Golden State. The Athletic’s description of the Warriors “brain trust” meeting after a game listed six people - and three of them were named Lacob. Joe is the owner and CEO, Kirk is the executive vice president, and Kent is the director of team development. Myers may not want to want to share power and decision-making with the owner’s kids - Kirk is the heir apparent to his father.
Myers can look at Atlanta, where his former assistant GM Travis Schlenk was forced out this year, after owner Tony Ressler gave more team control to his 27-year-old son. We’re not saying this is what’s happening with the Warriors - Lacob may decide to meet Myers’ contract demands and the front office will run it back - but he may want to be “light years ahead” and get new leadership. After all, Steve Kerr’s contract expires after next season as well.
We’d think the team wouldn’t want to mess with success, or get cheap on a man who helped the franchise’s value go up nearly $7 billion during his tenure. But you can’t predict what decisions might be made by the brain trust who also thought Alen Smailagic was worth three draft picks and cash.