Bob My­ers on An­drew Wig­gins’ fit and re­build­ing the War­riors

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - SPORTS - By Wes Gold­berg wgold­[email protected] bayrareane­ws­group.com

SAN FRAN­CISCO >> On the day fol­low­ing Thurs­day’s deal that ex­changed D’An­gelo Rus­sell for An­drew Wig­gins, War­riors brass made it clear: Fit, for them, mat­ters.

On Fri­day, War­riors gen­eral man­ager Bob My­ers spoke with the me­dia about a dead­line in which he traded half a dozen play­ers, and the rea­son­ing be­hind the po­lar­iz­ing deal trade with Min­nesota. The fact that Wig­gins played a po­si­tion of need at a pace the War­riors want to play, and that Rus­sell did not, was the pri­mary mo­ti­va­tion.

That, and avoid­ing an ex­pen­sive lux­ury tax bill and re­ceiv­ing valu­able draft com­pen­sa­tion. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, My­ers ref­er­enced past War­riors such as An­dre Iguo­dala, Shaun Liv­ingston and Kevin Du­rant, whose ab­sences Golden State is still feel­ing dur­ing a lot­tery-bound sea­son.

“I think one of the best things we did in the last six or seven years was fig­ure out a ros­ter that fit,” My­ers said. “But you re­ally don’t know un­til you piece it all to­gether. The hard part, for us, is we have to pa­tient.”

Here’s is the transcript from My­ers’ 20-minute me­dia ses­sion. The fol­low­ing was condensed

and edited for clar­ity.

Q: How much of an is­sue was D’An­gelo Rus­sell’s fit in the de­ci­sion to trade him?

A: “Look­ing for­ward a lit­tle bit in ros­ter con­struc­tion and see­ing that the need for a small for­ward was pretty glar­ing for us, and look­ing at the draft and free agency, re­al­iz­ing it might have been dif­fi­cult to

fill that need. So that was some of the think­ing be­hind it. But as far as that spe­cific de­ci­sion, there’s a po­si­tional com­po­nent of it, there’s a get­ting out of the tax com­po­nent of it. So, taken in to­tal­ity, it was the right de­ci­sion, the right time.

“I know I was on record when we traded for (Rus­sell) that we weren’t im­me­di­ately trad­ing him, and that was the truth. But it’s amaz­ing now how fast things move in the NBA. I was walk­ing over here think­ing last year, we had the best record in the NBA. Now we have the worst in 24 months. And our ros­ter, we’ve lost (Kevin) Du­rant, we lost (An­dre) Iguo­dala, it’s just crazy.”

Q: How much of a pri­or­ity was duck­ing the tax and when did that be­come such a larger pri­or­ity for you guys?

A: “For­tu­nately for me, I work for an own­er­ship group that’s spent maybe as much or more as any­body over the last four years. A lot of own­ers have man­dates of, ‘You’re not go­ing in the tax, you’re not go­ing to be re­peater.’ Joe (La­cob) is so com­pet­i­tive, he doesn’t think that way. But, at the same time, to be where we are and to be in the tax didn’t make a lot of sense. Ob­vi­ously we’re not head­ing to­ward the play­offs. We talk about the will­ing­ness to spend, but there is a fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tion to ev­ery business, and this is a business, too.

“Look­ing for­ward, to see the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of be­ing a re­peater at the level we would have been, the num­bers got pretty high. You can prob­a­bly run them your­self and see that if we had drafted in the top-five, that’s a salary you plug in. You talk about the (tax­payer mid-level ex­cep­tion), you talk about our trad­ed­player ex­cep­tion, and all of a sud­den you’re talk­ing about high ($200 mil­lions), and that’s a big num­ber for any­body to di­gest.

“So we thought, as painful as it was to move some of these guys, the think­ing was that go­ing into the 2020 sum­mer it pro­vided some flex­i­bil­ity and ma­neu­ver­abil­ity with our pay-roll. We’re still go­ing to spend a lot. I still fore­see some good spend­ing ahead of us. But there are de­grees where you have to be re­spon­si­ble and say, ‘Lis­ten, we can do this, it’s go­ing to be a short-term pain, but maybe an abil­ity to pro­vide more op­tions mov­ing for­ward.’”

Q: Was there a sense of ur­gency to do this trade now, D’An­gelo Rus­sell to the Tim­ber­wolves, at the dead­line as op­posed to wait­ing for the sum­mer?

A: “No, there wasn’t a sense of ur­gency. Ob­vi­ously, no­body has to do any­thing. We thought that we’ve lost a lit­tle bit of con­ti­nu­ity. Bring­ing in a guy — and Steph hope­fully will be back here — and hav­ing a chance to see how that un­folds. Po­si­tion­ally, we were think­ing ahead that these are the small for­ward free agents, these are the ways to pos­si­bly get one of them. Things are hap­pen­ing so fast now that, when you have an op­por­tu­nity, you have to make a de­ci­sion.”

Q: You talk about how young Wig­gins is, but D’An­gelo’s younger. Six months af­ter you get him, you’re mov­ing on to an­other player. Can you con­fi­dently say that you gave him enough run with this team to know what the fit was, and, that you won’t be back in here in six months or in a year and say ‘Well, Wig­gins was pretty good, but we’re mov­ing on to an­other player.’?

A: “To­day, no, I don’t think we will be. D’An­gelo’s a very good player and was very good for us from day one. I would ar­gue that his best po­si­tion is prob­a­bly a player we have that plays the same one, in truth. It could have worked beau­ti­fully, but we felt like we had the abil­ity to get a player where we had a pretty gap­ing hole. Now Klay can play 2, which is his best po­si­tion, Steph will ob­vi­ously play the 1, An­drew at the 3 and Dray­mond at the 4, and we’ll see what hap­pens at the 5. We like the length and the size and the ath­leti­cism and thought it was more com­ple­men­tary.

“It wasn’t an in­dict­ment of D’An­gelo, he was great and he is great. But, spe­cific to our needs, we just felt like this was a bet­ter fit. I’m sure Min­nesota feels the same way. They needed a point guard and it made sense for them. And for what we’re look­ing for, I think it made sense for us.”

Q: An­drew Wig­gins was ob­vi­ously some­body who was asked to be a go-to op­tion in Min­nesota. What do you see his role be­ing on this team next sea­son, and do you think he’s a guy who can ben­e­fit from a new en­vi­ron­ment and a fresh start?

A: “I hope our en­vi­ron­ment makes me bet­ter and makes play­ers bet­ter. I think it does.

We were talk­ing about the dif­fi­culty of trad­ing those guys the other night in Brook­lyn and some­body men­tioned to me, ‘This is re­ally rough on our cul­ture.’ And I said, ‘You know what’s amaz­ing, we have the worst record in the NBA, and not one player wanted to go.’ That’s un­prece­dented. I prom­ise you there’s a lot of good play­ers on a lot of good teams that don’t want to be there. That says some­thing about what Steve has built with his staff, what Joe’s done with what he’s pro­vided for the play­ers.

“The short an­swer is, if you bring some­body into that, you hope that they can be­come a bet­ter ver­sion of them­selves. Talk­ing to Glenn (Robin­son

III) and Alec (Burks), they felt like this was a place that could be home and they were ap­pre­ci­at­ing get­ting a chance to blos­som. I think that’s the gift that Steve pro­vides from such ex­pe­ri­ence as a player, as an eight-time cham­pion. If our en­vi­ron­ment can’t make some­body bet­ter, then we’re do­ing some­thing wrong. Then our en­vi­ron­ment, and our coach­ing staff, and me and all that sup­port we pro­vide isn’t worth that much if we don’t be­lieve that we can im­prove peo­ple.”

Q: You said at the time that you didn’t get D’An­gelo to trade him, but when you got him, were you think­ing you might trade him in six months?

A: “I don’t think you pay any­body $120 mil­lion with the im­me­di­ate idea of, ‘We don’t like him.’ But you do, like with any player, have to be open to any­thing. He’s a good, young player and I think what it came down to was just the po­si­tion. The key to build­ing a ros­ter is, ‘How do you make each player a bet­ter ver­sion of them­selves?’ I ref­er­enced Iguo­dala and Liv­ingston, I think they gave Steph the abil­ity to do some dif­fer­ent things. So then you have to think about how we con­struct some­thing again with the size and length and things like that. But, to be hon­est, I wish Steph wouldn’t have got­ten hurt. I wish we got a chance to see more of it. That was the hope.”

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