The Warriors were about to lose Kevin Durant for nothing in free agency this summer. Then general manager Bob Myers pivoted and pulled out a sign-and-trade to acquire All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell from the Brooklyn Nets for Durant.
The move caught many by surprise and led to speculation that the Warriors only acquired Russell with the intention of flipping him for other assets.
Myers recently rejected the idea that the Warriors took Russell just to trade him, and this week, he talked to The Athletic's Tim Kawakami about going into his free agency meeting with Durant, and his mindset once KD told him he was leaving Golden State.
"From that point on, the motivation going in and leaving, obviously leaving, I left with a certainty that [Durant] wasn't coming back," Myers said on The TK Show. "Going in, my job, our job as a front office, is to prepare for what if Kevin does come back and what if Kevin doesn't come back. It wasn't necessarily an immediate pivot to D'Angelo.
"It was, 'These are our options if Kevin doesn't come back. What can we do?' And for the people listening, it was simple. Either we do something like we did, which was more aggressive, whether it would have been that or something else, or another formulation of a sign-and-trade or using a huge trade exception, or we stand pat and signing a taxpayer mid-level. Those were the two pivot points. We obviously went the way we did."
Russell isn't the game-changing, Hall of Fame talent that Durant is, but he’s coming off his first NBA All-Star Game appearance, and set career highs in points per game, assists per game, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage last season.
For Myers and the Warriors, there are things to like about what Russell brings to the team.
"The attraction for us was, what's very hard in our business and in any sport is, how do you get a talented, young player?" Myers said. "It's very difficult. How do you do it in my job or the front office? Usually it's through the draft or a trade. And most times you try to trade for a guy that's young and good, you have to give up something that's easier, either a guaranteed high pick or a lottery guaranteed pick, or a good player or a combination of players. It's hard to do.
"We saw an opportunity to do it. That's why we did it. And that's the direction we went in. The other direction would have been not to do that and stay the course and see where that went. But we chose the path, and we're pretty happy with it."
Despite losing Durant, the Warriors were able to replace him with an All-Star-caliber player who’s just 23 years old.
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Russell, Steph Curry and Draymond Green will have to hold down the fort in the Bay until Klay Thompson recovers from his torn ACL. Once the five-time All-Star returns, the Warriors will possess one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA.
That's something Myers and Co. definitely have to feel good about.