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Despite widespread belief the Golden State Warriors acquired All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell to move him in another deal, general manager Bob Myers said that is not the case.
Myers, speaking for the first time since Golden State picked up Russell in the sign-and-trade swap that sent Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets, understands what’s been written and said in regard to Russell’s future with the Warriors.
“I know it’s been written and speculated. That’s fine,” Myers said Monday. “That’s what everybody’s job is to do. We didn’t sign him with the intention of just trading him. We haven’t even seen him play in our uniform yet, and a lot of people have us already trading him. That’s not how we’re viewing it. Let’s just see what we have. Let’s see what he is. Let’s see how he fits.
“Part of our job in the front office and the coaching staff and the organization is, ‘How does it all work?’ … So much of our sport at least, and maybe other sports, is, ‘What are you doing next?’ We got to figure out what we’re doing now.”
Considering Golden State lost Durant in the deal with the Nets as opposed to receiving nothing in return via free agency, traded Andre Iguodala to Memphis in order to create salary-cap space to sign Russell, waived Shaun Livingston and will be without All-Star guard Klay Thompson as he recovers from a torn ACL, is pleased to have a player the caliber of the 23-year-old Russell coming into the fold.
“We’re just happy that we got a young player that has a lot of upside, in our opinion, and we’re excited at the possibility of him in our uniform,” Myers said.
The GM also realizes it will be a different situation for the Warriors next season after reaching five consecutive NBA Finals, winning three championships. With all the fluidity to its roster, Golden State will be forced to lean heavily on All-Stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
“The West keeps getting better and better,” Myers said. “Can we compete? Yeah, I think that’s shown — at least at its core, whenever Klay comes back with Draymond and Steph — that’s a group that’s shown and proved that they can win. As far as the other pieces, we have to see.”
As for Durant, Myers said the two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player simply wanted a change after three years with the Warriors.
“He just felt like it was something inside of him, in his heart, that he wanted to try something different,” Myers said. “Nothing wrong with that. I have a peace about it, personally. I hope our fans can too. Just in the annals of Bay Area sports, he’s one of the best athletes we’ve ever seen come through our city and certainly this organization.
“And you saw (owner) Joe [Lacob] reflect that in his statements, how he felt as an owner of this team. And so I just appreciate, growing up here, the fact that Kevin Durant wore a Warriors uniform for three years. To me that’s pretty cool, whether I’m here in the position I’m in or just a Warriors fan. I think for him it was just a new chapter, trying something different.”
Having to move Iguodala, the MVP of the 2015 Finals, and to cut Livingston loose was difficult to do, Myers admitted.
“It’s very difficult,” Myers said. “Those are people I like. Those are people I still like. Those memories, those relationships don’t change. Just ’cause they’re going to go work for a different company or different team, what we shared, whether it’s myself or their teammates or anybody in the organization, that doesn’t go away. So that hurts. I mean, those things hurt. If they don’t hurt, then I guess you never had a relationship with those guys in the first place.
“That’s the hard part of the business, but I’m sure I’m going to see those guys again,” he said. “Looking forward to it in whatever capacity they’re in, whatever teams they’re on. And I wish them well. Those guys were tremendous — both of them. For me personally, for our fans, for our community, how they represented themselves. So yeah, that’s a tough thing to pivot off of.”
It’s a new era for Golden State, Myers realizes.
“It’s a new dawn for us,” he said. “But it’s OK. We haven’t been in this position for five years, but it’s going to be fun. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy because when you have young players, there’s a learning curve to their growth, to their NBA experience.”