Bob Myers

Warriors' Bob Myers appreciates what John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan built

Warriors' Bob Myers appreciates what John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan built

Bob Myers watches the 49ers through the lens of a long-time Bay Area sports fan while also holding a deep appreciation for what it took from John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan to get to this point.

The 49ers won the NFC West title and earned homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a 13-3 record. This season came after the organization totaled just 10 victories in the first two seasons of Lynch and Shanahan running the show.

Myers, the Warriors general manager and two-time NBA Executive of the Year, said on The 49ers Insider Podcast it does not get much better than what they are experiencing during this turn-around season.

“Right now, I bet they’re enjoying their wins and I bet they’re enjoying this season,” Myers said. “And I don’t want to stamp on it a little bit, but it may be the most fun they ever have, the climb up.”

Myers recalls when the Warriors first made the playoffs in 2013, for only the second time in 19 years. Those within the organization celebrated as if they had won the championship.

“We can’t go back to that,” Myers said. “You can’t go back there and relive that because you only get to do that once. You only get to climb up once for the first time, so I hope they’re enjoying it. I know it’s hard. But, otherwise, what are we doing this for, if you can’t enjoy those moments?”

After earning a first-round bye, the 49ers play host to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday in an NFC divisional-round game at Levi’s Stadium. The winning team advances to the NFC Championship Game the following week.

Myers' parents were long-time 49ers season-ticket holders, so he has always followed the team closely. He has gotten to know Lynch over the past three years, as they share the common bond of feeling personally responsible for the product that takes the court or the playing field.

After two seasons in which Lynch’s job performances were second-guessed and scrutinized, he now is a strong candidate for NFL Executive of the Year.

“Coaches and the coaching staff have such a great bond together,” Myers said. “The players have each other. In this position, I do have my staff, which is great, but also you feel this responsibility, right or wrong, or success or failure, when things don’t go well. That’s a burden that only by sitting in the job you can actually feel.”

Lynch and Shanahan lost their first nine games together in 2017 before celebrating wildly in the locker room at Levi’s Stadium after a mid-November victory over the New York Giants. Shanahan hand-picked Lynch to serve as the team’s general manager, and there never has been a hint of issues between the two men.

After the 2019 draft, one report surfaced of discord between Shanahan and Lynch, but those close to the situation scoff at the suggestion there ever was any kind of serious tension. In fact, Lynch does not travel to scout college players during the season because Shanahan likes the support Lynch offers him by remaining at the 49ers’ offices during the week.

“That’s what gives you a lot of confidence if you’re a 49ers fan, that they weathered the storm,” Myers said. “It’s always better to get hit with adversity early and work toward success. Their connectivity, their trust in each other, they’ve weathered criticism. I’m sure they’ve heard themselves criticized. They’ve heard their organization criticized. They’ve heard their decisions criticized. And they didn’t break within all of that. Most people do.

“To be able to maneuver and navigate through that in a real genuine way, and come out clean, good for them. Most of the time, you don’t make it through those tough seasons. Most of the time, that challenge is too overwhelming.”

[RELATEDShanahan believes Jimmy G is mentally prepared for playoffs]

The compatibility of Myers and Warriors coach Steve Kerr might be as important to the Dubs as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Likewise, the 49ers’ cohesive tandem of Lynch and Shanahan carries over to the on-field production of Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle.

“It’s not fun if you’re just by yourself in this whole thing,” Myers said. “We’ve won. We’ve been lucky enough to win. And I know what it’s like. We’ve been lucky enough to win three times. The winning itself is not ... it’s how you do it. It’s what the journey was, it’s who you do it with. That’s what makes it unique and special.

"And that’s what you build towards.”

Warriors' brain trust facing busiest January they've ever experienced

Warriors' brain trust facing busiest January they've ever experienced

With the win streak over and the Warriors limping into their sixth losing streak of at least three games, even those few delusional fans must bury their playoff fantasies and accept this season for what it is.

A chance to conduct live auditions for 2020-21 and, perhaps, beyond.

Which is why every member of the brain trust above coach Steve Kerr has spent the last 10 weeks – ever since hearing Stephen Curry would miss at least three months – closely evaluating most of the players on the roster.

As the Warriors sifted through the free-agent market, they sought players willing to sign one-year contracts. If there was mutual interest in a long-term deal, they would revisit that in July. If not, both parties were free.

Getting younger was the priority. If a vet or two could stick, so be it. If none did, they became what sports executives refer to as “tradeable assets” to be moved for “future assets.”

That’s how the Warriors landed upon Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III and Willie Cauley-Stein (who has a player option for Year 2). The Warriors like all three, to varying degrees, but also realize none may be a part of their long-term vision.

Of the 16 players on the roster – we’re counting two-way players – only four are certain to be on the payroll next season: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney (health permitting) and Klay Thompson. Only Green has been a semi-regular contributor, playing in 26 of 38 games.

Three more players aren’t far behind: Rookies Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic and Eric Paschall. They’re young, relatively inexpensive and, for now, considered part of the future. They’re not going anywhere – unless something preposterous develops.

A fourth, rookie guard Ky Bowman has impressed enough that the Warriors have been seeking avenues to keep him beyond his two-way deal that has eight days remaining. He definitely has long-term potential.

And the Warriors, from what I’ve been able to gather, see Omari Spellman as someone capable of sticking.

That’s nine players, and we haven’t gotten to D’Angelo Russell. Where does he stand? The Warriors aren’t putting him onto the sidewalk holding a “For Trade” sign. Unless a team falls in love deeply enough to take a contract averaging $30 million over the next three years, he’s likely to last through the trade deadline and the season.

There are reasons why, 20 days into trade season, the Warriors have not completed a deal, much of it related to their persistent injury problems. They must have at least eight active players for each game, and there have been occasions when they barely met that threshold – and wouldn’t have if a healthy player were on another team.

There has been considerable dialogue, according to league sources, and there is widespread belief there will be at least one move, and probably two.

Which brings us to the other six players, those most likely to be affected.

After Burks, Cauley-Stein, Robinson and Marquese Chriss, there are Jacob Evans III and Damion Lee – who likely will be on the team longer than the other three.

The Warriors are approaching several important dates, the first being Jan. 7, when players under non-guaranteed contracts either get waived or guaranteed. Such is the case with Chriss, who as the primary backup center has started the last two games in place of an ailing Cauley-Stein.

The Warriors believe Chriss, 22, has some upside. He does. They also recognize he makes positive and negative plays (or non-plays) in near equal amounts. Despite publicly supporting his gratuitous shove of Mavericks star Luka Doncic last week, some within the organization were displeased with the outburst, given Chriss’ history of skirmishes.

Waiving Chriss would save about $900,000 but leave the Warriors with Cauley-Stein and, in a pinch, either Spellman or Smailagic at center. Smailagic is 19 and projects as a power forward. Spellman is 22 and projects as a power forward. Draymond is a power forward that, this season, should play center only in case of emergency.

In short, the Warriors likely will find a way to hang on to Chriss and Lee, even if they have to resort to 10-day contracts.

Which brings us back to the three vets signed last July. The trade deadline is 34 days away (Feb. 6), and teams are scouting the Warriors more seriously than in recent seasons because they know the team that has not been active in recent seasons will be this time around.

[RELATED: Five Dubs storylines to monitor for the remainder of season]

President/general manager Bob Myers and his personnel staff are facing an in-season challenge like never before. They’ve set a standard that is tough to maintain and are compelled to pursue that level next season.

The moves they make over the next few weeks represent the first step toward getting there.

How Warriors will plan to utilize Alen Smailagic, two-way players

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NBC Sports Bay Area

How Warriors will plan to utilize Alen Smailagic, two-way players

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askKerith.

Tip-Off

HAPPY NEW YEAR! My resolution is to be more charitable with my money and my time. I like doing more of things, rather than less of things. More vegetables mean I don’t have to eat less cheese!

Game On!

@covika #askKerith What’s the plan for Bowman and Smiley over the next month or so? Know there are lot of complications here with the contracts.
@KDgaming4 What does Steve Kerr like about Ky Bowman and will he have a roster spot for the foreseeable future #askKerith

Let’s talk about the two-way players before Alen Smailagic. Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he’d like to find a place on the roster for both Ky Bowman and Damion Lee. How this would be possible is ultimately up to general manager Bob Myers to figure out, but Kerr is high on the performances the two-way guys have contributed this season.

The Warriors lead the NBA in the most points scored by their two-way players (500+) this season. The second-most is Washington (100+). They’ve had to rely on these guys hard.

Giving two players full NBA contracts means you have to subtract from somewhere else, as Warriors Insider Monte Poole wrote about here.

The Warriors want to reward Bowman and Lee, both of whom Kerr has made sure to praise publicly as NBA-level talents. It’s still unclear how it will all shake out and the clock is ticking. After last night’s game, Bowman has worked 37 of his 45 days as a two-way player. Lee has worked 38. 

Now to Smailagic. He’s 19 years old. It was cool to see him make his NBA debut during the Christmas week homestand, but his minutes probably won’t be many this season with the big club. I say that knowing he played 10 minutes in San Antonio and 16 minutes in Minnesota. 

Smiley is in the developmental stages of his career, so the G League is the preferred spot for him. The Warriors are high on his potential!

@evenstrongerps4 Update on Looney's health? 

This season, Kevon Looney has missed 20 games with neuropathy, and five games with abdominal soreness. That’s tough for a player who is part of the Warriors foundation.

Kerr has explained that neuropathy isn’t really an injury with a start and a finish, it's an ongoing condition Looney will have to manage. 

Looney has missed so much time, other factors are now in play, like difficulty getting his conditioning up. That’s no fault of his own -- it's just the reality of getting his wind back. The stops and starts aren’t ideal. 

@houseofannie Are 42 wins within reach?
@bdzivi Once Steph returns, sometime in February, will they be able to play .500 ball from there on out for just those remaining games, at least on days when the vets aren't being rested for "load management" concerns?
@AutumnMayes1 What are the expectations for next year?? Playoff caliber team again??

I’m grouping these questions together because many question-askers are curious if the Warriors could make the playoffs this season, and what the future looks like.

This season first: The four-game winning streak over Christmas stirred some hope that in a weak West, playoffs could be a possibility. What if Steph comes back? What if Klay comes back? Could they make a push at the finish? It would be great to finish the season on a positive note, but I’m not sure the playoffs are possible. 

Steph will be re-evaluated in early February. That does not necessarily mean he’ll play at that time. Kerr said at the start of the season it’s “unlikely” Klay plays at all

The Warriors want to win for morale and to reap the rewards of what they’ve been learning this season. Winning too much could impact a lottery pick. The chips will fall where they may. No one will instruct the team to play poorly for draft purposes. 

All the struggle now builds to a promising future. All the minutes and film study and player development for guys who wouldn’t usually be in these situations will only make them stronger. With the Steph and Klay healthy next season, the Warriors should indeed be a playoff-caliber team in 2020-2021.

@MichaelSilvers8 what does the future look like for Omari Spellman? Seems like his playing time is down...thanks!

Early in the season, injuries forced the Warriors to play with eight or nine guys. Now they’re playing with 11, 12, or 13. More guys mean the minutes are spread around differently. Fewer minutes for Omari is simply the situation. He also missed a couple of games with an illness.

The Warriors believe in Omari and picked up his option back in October. That gives Omari the peace of mind that the team wants him around. 

As long as he keeps up the hustle plays and continues to score and rebound off the bench, he’ll be in good standing. He’s done well this season. 

@lvpelt When Eric Paschall fully recovers from his injury, will he be reinserted into the starting lineup? He was getting a lot of minutes and playing so well! I hope to see him get back into the ROY conversation. #askKerith

I think Paschall may get some spot starts depending on the situation, but a bench role may ideal. Paschall was an excellent starter for the Dubs during their injury-ravaged period. He earned his place in the early Rookie of the Year conversations, but that’s slowed down a bit. That’s OK!

Paschall and Jordan Poole were tossed in the fire with more minutes and responsibilities than most rookies experience. Their learning curve looked like a high-rise elevator, not a ramp. Kudos to them for doing their best. Poole is recalibrating in the G League, and I think Paschall will continue to contribute well as the minutes reshuffle. 

@barrys Where is Kevin Durant's jersey at the Chase Center? Thought the Dubs retired it.

The Dubs retired KD’s number in spirit when Joe Lacob declared:

 “...We thank KD for all of his contributions, for being an integral part to one of the most prolific runs in NBA history and wish him well as he continues his Hall of Fame journey. As long as I am Co-Chairman of this team, no player will ever wear #35 for the Warriors again.”

An actual ceremony to raise his number in the rafters is TBD. It would be strange to retire KD’s number while he’s still playing. 

@Nick_McGurk Do you think Sunny Day Real Estate will ever reform?

I don’t know. Diary came out in 1994. I discovered SDRE years later, the summer before college. You asked an innocent question, but I’ve been thinking about the perils of nostalgia. I don’t want to exist in the places that made me comfortable. 

My favorite bands were Pixies, Spoon, Sleater-Kinney and The National. I don’t identify with them anymore. Their new stuff doesn’t speak to me. They changed. I changed. Good. 

I don’t want a reboot of Ghostbusters with kid actors (it’s coming), Toy Story 12, or a re-heated Top Gun. I want new stories in different universes. Put Star Wars to bed. 

[RELATED: Predictions for rest of Warriors season]

High Five

This week’s high five goes to Monte Poole for joining Logan and me on the Runnin’ Plays podcast for a look back at the Warriors’ decade, one of the most decorated in sports. 

Monte is like a history professor in this episode. He filled in some stuff I didn’t know about the Mark Jackson years, which set up the Warriors’ championships. This is one of those conversations where I caught myself listening for 40 minutes without checking the time. 

Tune in to the episode here, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your pods.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.