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.
The Warriors’ lack of flexibility could make it very hard to address their biggest need this summer—barring internal improvement, at least.
— Warriors Nation (@WarriorNationCP) May 24, 2023
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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