How Bob Myers’ departure impacts Warriors’ franchise-altering offseason

The first domino of the Golden State Warriors’ offseason has fallen. Bob Myers’ departure as general manager lands like a hammer, adding a base of uncertainty to a pivotal summer always bound to be marked by change.

Just because a new voice will be making final decisions in the front office, though, doesn’t mean the Dubs’ plan of attack entering 2023-24 will be any different than if Myers was still calling the shots.

All signs point to Mike Dunleavy Jr. climbing the ranks to effectively replace his former boss. Dunleavy was promoted from scout to vice president of basketball operations in 2021, three years after joining the franchise. The 42-year-old has been a near-constant at Myers’ side since then, also representing the Warriors at a recent general managers meeting in Chicago and attending prospect workouts this week leading up to the NBA draft.

No one can be who Myers was for Golden State. The personal relationships he developed with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson en route to many high highs and more isolated low lows of four championships in the last nine years can’t be manufactured. Dunleavy commands respect as a former player and quick-rising executive who’s spent basically his entire life around the league, but he’s still relatively new to the Warriors.

Myers was the Dubs as much as anyone outside Curry, Green and Thompson, the architect of a league-changing dynasty revered by its stars. Don’t forget it was him who made the controversial move to dismiss Mark Jackson and hire Steve Kerr straight from the broadcast booth in 2014 despite Golden State coming off consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in over 20 years. Just like his friendships with Curry and Green, Myers has grown especially close with Kerr, too.

There’s no doubt Golden State’s power brokers are shaken by Bob Myers stepping away. That collective desire for him to have stuck around is hardly tacit disapproval of Dunleavy taking reins in the front office, though.

“Just through Bob I’ve gotten to know Mike well, to the point now where Mike and I talk pretty frequently just calling each other, touching base on the team,” Kerr told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic last week on The TK Show. “You know, I like to get his thoughts. He had a long playing career, he’s been in the NBA his entire life, basically, with his dad being a coach and general manager and player. So Mike’s got a great feel for the league, great perspective, and he’s someone I really trust.”

It’s safe to say Curry, Green and Thompson feel varying degrees of the same way. Myers wouldn’t have anointed Dunleavy his right-hand man without full confidence the Dubs’ Big Three would quickly come to believe in him. Most names on the front office flow chart are poised to remain despite a change at the top, too. Kirk Lacob is the other incumbent reportedly due a big promotion with Myers on the way out. Shaun Livingston, Larry Harris, Kent Lacob, Nick U’Ren and Jonnie West are still a part of this team’s decision-making nucleus.

The sense of trust and accountability Myers both fostered and personified isn’t necessarily going anywhere. It just needs be massaged a little differently and monitored more closely now that the buck will stop elsewhere instead.

Those interpersonal shifts are inevitable with Myers gone. Barring complete breakdowns from ownership toward the top of the roster in wake of his exit, so are prevailing notions about Golden State’s limited team-building assets and overall approach entering a critical offseason.

There’s just no clear landing spot for Green in free agency other than San Francisco even if he wanted to leave. Extension discussions with Thompson were always likely to be pushed past this summer. The Dubs’ cap crunch essentially keeps their spending on outside free agents to minimum contracts, not to mention the loss of Donte DiVincenzo on the open market. The Warriors’ best means of finding the continuity and chemistry that eluded them this season while making a dent in Joe Lacob’s massive luxury tax bill is still trading Jordan Poole.

Contract talks with Green and perhaps Thompson will definitely be more fraught absent Bob Myers. Maybe veterans chasing rings will be less inclined to sign on the cheap without a former agent recruiting them to Golden State. Opposing front offices will surely test the Warriors in trade negotiations, looking for any newfound weakness to exploit.

But all that’s just minutiae of the same blueprint the Dubs have been working from since their hopes of repeating as champions were dashed by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. The ride isn’t finished yet. Names change, goals don’t—a cliché that’s long applied to Golden State next to Curry, Green and Thompson, and should remain its mantra this summer even as the Warriors’ dynasty has lost a foundational pillar.

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Grading absurd hypothetical Warriors-Rockets Jordan Poole trade

The Golden State Warriors won their fourth NBA Championship in the iteration of their Big 3 and head coach Steve Kerr. The 2022 crown was far different from the previous ones as the journey was more tumultuous, and there were more young guns that were included on their roster. Jordan Poole is a fantastic piece, who was phenomenal in the first three rounds of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.

Poole’s rookie contract was up for an extension, and the Warriors locked him up for four years, $140 million. As the contract kicks in starting next season, it could be a bone-headed mistake for the Warriors because Poole was horrific in 2023, and his trade value is not as high as they hoped. The guaranteed contract limits the moves Golden State can execute in the offseason, but there is one hypothetical trade between the Warriors and Houston Rockets that was proposed on The Athletic.

Rockets receive: Jordan Poole and Jonathan Kuminga

Warriors receive: Kevin Porter Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, K.J. Martin, the No. 4 pick in 2023, Houston’s first-round picks in 2025 and 2027

From Rockets perspective:

The starting backcourt of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green do not mesh well together. Both individuals have a pure scoring and shoot-first mentality rather than being a floor general and involving their teammates. Porter Jr. has had his fair share of off-court issues as well, so why should not the organization pounce on the massive opportunity of adding a talented individual like Jordan Poole.

His trade value is at its lowest at the moment, so Houston can pounce on the rare chance, especially because they have the cap space to absorb the salary of Jordan Poole. Compared to the Warriors who have a ton of committed money on their payroll, Houston can take a calculated risk on Poole’s four-year deal. Moreover, the Rockets will be able to add an absolutely talented forward in Jonathan Kuminga as well.

The Warriors do not have space to pay him, so it is inevitable for him to be shipped out. Poole and Kuminga have been heavily criticized with their basketball IQ, but the hiring of former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will be an immense boost to their upside with the Rockets.

From Warriors perspective:

There is no question that the Draymond Green and Jordan Poole training camp incident negatively affected the vibes on the Golden State locker room. Furthermore, his subpar production in their 2023 campaign was a sign from other individuals that it is time to move on from Poole and add supplementary pieces that complement the nucleus of Golden State.

In the aforementioned trade proposal, the inclusion of Kevin Porter Jr. is iffy because his approach does not seem to fit the system of the Warriors. However, Jae’Sean Tate and K.J. Martin are two incredible athletes who can flourish in any system even if they do not have superb talent. The Warriors lacked the bodies who were willing to do the dirty work and athletic forwards and bigs who can rebound and defend, so Tate and Martin will fill-in that gap.

For this trade to be successful, Golden State must be very convinced that the fourth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft will contribute instantly to their championship aspirations. Any of the Thompson twins or Jarace Walker must contribute at a bigger level than Jordan Poole or Jonathan Kuminga for this trade to make sense for Golden State. The two future draft assets in 2025 and 2027 will not benefit the current iteration of the Warriors, so there is no reason for that to be a reason on why the trade will push through.

Rockets grade : B+

Warriors grade : D


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3 major offseason fixes Warriors must make to win 2024 NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors’ pursuit of an unprecedented fifth championship in nine seasons fell flat, but hope springs eternal with Stephen Curry wearing blue and gold. Here are three major offseason fixes the Warriors must make to win the 2024 NBA Finals.

Trade Jordan Poole

It’s not Poole’s fault Draymond Green completely lost his cool in early October, irreparably damaging the Warriors’ chemistry a couple weeks before their title defense tipped off. But Poole knows better than anyone there’s no coming back from the vicious punch to the face he took from Green during a preseason practice.

Golden State finally shed some real light on the lingering effects of that incident after its hopes for back-to-back championships ended in the Western Conference Semifinals. Poole’s “pouting” against the Sacramento Kings was reportedly the product of a decrease in playing time, but it was always wildly naive to assume fallout from the punch existed in the vacuum of his relationship with Green.

It changed everything about the Warriors’ alchemy in 2022-23, giving them no chance to develop the trust and cohesion that last year’s team rode to a ring. Curry turns 36 next March. Green isn’t going anywhere, and the Dubs just don’t have time to risk that same problem coming back to bite them in 2023-24.

Poole’s ugly performance during Golden State’s brief playoff run, unfortunately, extends far beyond 44.7% true shooting. He was perhaps the most damaging postseason defender in basketball, a massive bullseye for the opposition in pick-and-roll, off-ball screening actions and transition. Curry slipped some on defense this season, and was targeted as mercilessly as Poole as the Warriors fell to LeBron James and the Lakers.

Poole’s presence threatens the togetherness every team needs to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy, while lineups featuring he and Curry have never seemed less tenable defensively. His big-money extension kicking in next season helps push the Dubs’ luxury-tax bill well past the $400 million threshold Joe Lacob has already marked as a line in the sand.

Assuming ownership commits to cutting costs, Golden State is bound to lose the net talent exchange in a Poole trade. He’s still just 23, not even a year removed from emerging as one of the league’s most dynamic, creative young playmakers on the postseason stage. Stardom could still await him.

The Warriors’ clearest path to another championship involves trading Poole regardless. It’s time for both sides to start fresh.

Increase overall size and athleticism

Golden State was absolutely pounded by Domantas Sabonis and the Kings on the offensive glass at times in the first round. De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk ran the ball down the Warriors’ throat over and over in transition, creating efficient shots early in the clock pretty much whenever they wanted.

The Lakers took exactly twice as many free throws as the Warriors, and Golden State committed a whopping 42 more fouls than Los Angeles. Those extreme trends carried into the second round from the regular season, while a locked-in Anthony Davis and LeBron James overwhelmed the Dubs in the paint—seemingly at will—on both  sides of the ball.

It’s no coincidence the Warriors’ collective lack of size and athleticism was laid barest when it mattered most. They were subject to that inherent disadvantage almost every night across the 82-game grind. Only the good teams feature a beast like Sabonis and blur like Fox or two-way monsters like Davis and James, though.

Playoff basketball is a different animal, one that made Golden State seem like prey in the first two rounds far more than at any other point in the Kerr era. The Dubs simply must get bigger and more explosive in 2023-24.

A full season of Gary Payton II’s hyper-disruptive defense and stellar finishing will help there, and Jonathan Kuminga committing to the grunt work that would earn him a guaranteed spot in the lineup would loom even larger. An earmarked rotation role for Moses Moody will at least make the Warriors a bit longer on the perimeter; he was also plenty comfortable tussling and tangling for boards in the playoffs.

But it’s imperative Bob Myers—or whoever is running the front office—looks past incumbents to up Golden State’s all-around physicality before next season. The Dubs’ best hope of adding an impact third big or additional wing is via trading Poole. They just don’t have the spending capacity needed to bring in that type of player on the open market.

The Warriors have the opportunity to make one significant team-building splash this summer. The major physical deficiencies they faced en route to a disappointing postseason should inform it as much anything else.

Ease the burden on Stephen Curry

The biggest problem with moving Poole? His departure would almost certainly lower Golden State’s ability to break down defenses and create shots in the halfcourt outside Curry, arguably this team’s biggest single weakness. The prospect of losing Donte DiVincenzo in free agency only compounds that worry.

Even so, the Warriors’ championship equation in 2023-24 is probably best reached by prioritizing versatility, defense and ancillary scoring punch in a Poole trade. Only so many offense-first guards really move the needle in the postseason—a number much smaller among reserves. Curry needs to be the only player on the floor who fits that profile if the Dubs want to level back up toward legitimate title contention a year from now.

Somehow, some way, Kerr and company will likely need to ease the playmaking burden on Curry absent Poole and the help of another dynamic guard added via trade.

Maybe that means Andrew Wiggins tapping back into the ball-handling responsibilities he shouldered with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Could Klay Thompson’s necessary late-career improvement comes in the form of leveraging his shooting threat by creating more shots for teammates? Payton was a point guard, living on the fringes of the league, before finding his calling in Golden State before last season. Kuminga has the very early makings of a potential secondary creator.

It will be tough for the Dubs to make life easier on Curry. He proved he can still put on the superhero cape in Game 7 of the first round. But the best playoff defenses are too disruptive and disciplined to be bothered by one-dimensional offenses, an attack the Dubs were ultimately forced to settle for against the Lakers and Kings while Curry’s teammates struggled immensely to exist outside his singular orbit.

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