Bob Myers

Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft

dunleavyap.jpg
AP

Warriors counted on Mike Dunleavy Jr. in D'Angelo Russell trade, draft

Mention the name Mike Dunleavy Jr. to a Warriors fan, and you're likely to get a sour face in response.

The No. 3 overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft never lived up to his potential over four-plus seasons in Golden State, and his seemingly relaxed disposition on the court didn't endear him any further. He was quite a talent drop-off from the first two picks of that draft -- Yao Ming and Jay Williams -- and he was selected six picks ahead of Amar'e Stoudemire, among others.

In fact, arguably the most helpful thing he ever did for the Warriors was be involved in the trade that brought Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington over from the Indiana Pacers.

Time heals all wounds, though, and Dunleavy recently was involved in an important Warriors trade once again.

Dunleavy is back with Golden State, having rejoined the franchise as a pro scout last season. But as The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported Tuesday, it was his involvement in the sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell on July 1 that had plenty to do with his elevation to his current position of assistant general manager.

On the night of June 30, Dunleavy sat in a Manhattan hotel room with Warriors general manager Bob Myers, trying to figure out how Golden State would proceed after learning that Kevin Durant was taking his talents to Brooklyn.

"Bob knew before everybody else, so that gave us a little bit more time to figure out what’s next,” Dunleavy told Slater. “But once that 6 p.m. time slot hit, things started flying. There was so much real-time action, intel collecting."

Having been based in New York for his scouting duties, Dunleavy got plenty of exposure to Russell during his time with the Nets, which aided in the Warriors' assessment of the dynamic guard.

"I didn’t see D’Angelo Russell play live 10, 20 times (like Mike),” Myers said. “There’s never been more information available, whether it’s analytics, your ability to watch tape, see games, dig into numbers. But I don’t think any of it is a substitute for actually going to a game in person, talking to coaches and watching the whole day develop, from when the player gets there to warm up, the stuff fans don’t see, interacting on a closer level, how they act when they get subbed out, how they react to winning and losing."

While Myers is at the head of the Warriors' basketball operations department, he encourages a collaborative decision-making process. When it came time to decide on Russell, Dunleavy's familiarity was utilized.

"When we were faced with that short window of time, we certainly asked him,” Myers revealed. “He gave a rundown of where he thought he improved, his strengths, potential weaknesses, fit, all that."

The rest, as they say, is history.

With input from Dunleavy, Golden State made the gutsy decision to complete the sign-and-trade for Russell, which required the Warriors to depart with Andre Iguodala and multiple draft picks. The frantic events of the opening hours of free agency actually served to cement Dunleavy's interest in that kind of work, rather than deter it.

"I kind of got addicted to it," Dunleavy admitted.

Over the course of last season, Dunleavy grew more involved in the draft process. He attended several Villanova games, where he studied Golden State's eventual second-round pick Eric Paschall, and was present for the entirety of the Big Ten Tournament, where he saw future first-round pick Jordan Poole play three times. Dunleavy then joined the rest of the front office in Oakland for the remainder of the pre-draft process, including the evaluation of prospect workouts.

[RELATED: Iguodala planned to teach math before titles with Warriors]

Given who the Warriors ultimately selected in the draft, it's evident Golden State liked what Dunleavy had to say about both Poole and Paschall. Then, after he had further proven his value during the madness of the opening hours of free agency, Myers quickly offered Dunleavy his new elevated role.

"I’m not so arrogant to think I know more than he knows about an NBA offense," Myers conceded. "So I’m just positing questions to him. He takes a deeper look -- kind of like Andre (Iguodala) and Shaun (Livingston) -- just a brilliant basketball mind. It kind of comes naturally."

Dunleavy's first go-around with the Warriors was rocky, to say the least. But if Russell proves to be a good acquisition and the draft picks pan out, the second one will be a lot smoother.

Zaza Pachulia eager to 'learn from the best' in Warriors’ front office

Zaza Pachulia eager to 'learn from the best' in Warriors’ front office

When his phone stopped ringing during the NBA free agency frenzy last month, Zaza Pachulia wondered if he would have the opportunity to extend his career into a 17th season.

Then came a call the veteran center was not expecting.

It was Kirk Lacob, executive vice president of basketball operations for the Warriors, and he wanted to know if Pachulia might be interested in rejoining the team in an off-court capacity.

Yes, because he enjoyed most everything about his two seasons with the Warriors.

No, because Pachulia, who entered the NBA as a 19-year-old in 2003, wasn’t sure he was ready to call it quits.

A few days later, after discussing the possibility with his family and, among others, his good friend Klay Thompson, it was unanimously concluded this was the perfect opportunity for Pachulia to begin his transition from player to what he hopes will be an executive position.

“Honestly, I wanted to keep playing,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “At first I got a couple calls from different teams. But it didn’t go the way I wanted. Then in the middle of July, it got very quiet. I kind of sensed it would be difficult to play another year.”

Lacob’s phone call led to the official announcement that Pachulia will be full-time consultant next season. He’ll do some coaching, probably with the team’s young big men, but he also will participate in player personnel discussions and perhaps some scouting.

“Coming from the team and franchise where I have so many amazing memories, probably the best memories of my career . . . honestly, I took it as a chance to retire and still stay with basketball,” said Pachulia, who has settled in the Bay Area with his family.

“If you’re going to start a new chapter, this is the way to do it,” he added. “At some point, I figured this is better than playing for another team. I can learn from the best.”

[RELATED: Looking back at the bromance between Zaza and Klay]

Pachulia says he’ll be all ears, willing to absorb any morsels of knowledge he can from coach Steve Kerr and his staff, as well as general manager Bob Myers, COO Rick Welts and Lacob.

“It’s very exciting,” Pachulia said. “Even though, the games are over, I’m not sad at all. I’m thankful to have 16 years, with so many great moments.

“It’s good to be wanted and I can’t wait to start. I know I’m going to learn a lot. At the same time, I get to share my experience as well.”

Warriors excited to be mystery team after years of great expectations

draystephus.jpg
USATSI

Warriors excited to be mystery team after years of great expectations

SAN FRANCISCO – When the Warriors gather for training camp on Sept. 30, the burden of great expectations will have vanished, replaced by the seductive mystery of what might be possible.

After five consecutive trips to The Finals yielded three championships, the dawn of the 2019-20 season will feature some degree of newness at every level.

Only three players, Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney, will be in a role similar to recent seasons. Only two coaches, Steve Kerr and Mike Brown, will have the same duties for the third consecutive season.

“Different, right? Different in that going into (the last few seasons) we kind of knew what we had,” general manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. “What it would be, I don’t know.

“But there was also a weight to feeling like we’ve got to win. That’s it. We have to win the championship. We’re supposed to win. With this team, you’re going to win. That was nice, I suppose; I’m not complaining about that. But you realize it can’t last forever. There has to be change. You don’t know how change is going to come. So now we have it."

Change came because All-Star guard Klay Thompson sustained a torn ACL expected to keep him out until at least February and superstar forward Kevin Durant opted out of his contract, triggering a cascade of activity that led to the addition of D’Angelo Russell and the loss of wily veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

“When you have guys like that, that are respected around the NBA, on and off the court, it provides a different respect level,” Looney told NBC Sports Bay Area. “We’re going to miss having that.

“But we have the new old guys now, with Draymond and Steph. They are the new old people on the team. They’ve been great leaders and great mentors the whole time, but Shaun and Andre are tough shoes to fill.”

Don’t look now, Loon, but you, at 23 years old, with 204 NBA games on your resume, suddenly must become a leader.

Russell, 17 days younger than Looney and with zero games as a Warrior, suddenly is essential to any chance of the team having early success.

“Walking into the locker room and seeing Andre and Shaun, and those guys that have been there for so long, it was comforting to know that whatever was coming our way, we had people that have dealt with it, or could,” Myers said.

“Now, you’re look around and I’m more or less hoping. Can some of our new guys be those guys? Steph, Klay, Draymond and Kevon are going to have to take on more of that role.”

Curry and Green have indeed been tone-setters for at least five seasons -- Curry leading mostly with humor and by example, Green opting for a more clinical route, punctuated by a blowtorch. Thompson leads mostly by embodying a commitment level his teammates aspire to reach.

After adding three rookies with varying levels of experience and different skills, the Warriors consider camp and the first two months of the season a training ground for guard Jordan Poole (20 years old, a capable scorer), forward Alen Smailagic (19 years old, NBA readiness still in question) and forward Eric Paschall (22, considered the team’s most NBA-ready rookie).

“What can they do?” Myers wondered. “Are they better than we thought? Are they worse? Are these young guys evolving? How do they fit together? Will we play the same style? This imposes a lot of new questions.

“It’s a new movie, it’s new actors. But the stars of the show are some of the same guys.”

The hearts of Curry and Green are warmed by the team’s new underdog status and tend to thrive under those circumstances. Thompson also embraces it. The guess here is that Russell, back in California two years after the Lakers traded to Brooklyn, also wants to make a statement.

[RELATED: Lacob still confident new-look Warriors can win NBA Finals]

Though no one can replace Durant, Russell gives them a shooter they’ll need while Thompson is rehabbing. Poole is showing he’s yet another shooter. Once Thompson returns, he can expect plenty of minutes at small forward, with Curry and Russell manning the guard spots.

The Warriors have spent this summer reloading on the sly. The success of the reload is in question, as are all such undertakings, but the internal excitement about it is real.

Should that excitement continue after seeing the “new” Warriors play defense, they’ll really be onto something.