Bob Myers on Andrew Wiggins’ fit and rebuilding the Warriors
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.”