Warriors

NBA Draft 2019: Warriors GM Bob Myers hoping to find instant contributors

NBA Draft 2019: Warriors GM Bob Myers hoping to find instant contributors

OAKLAND - Bob Myers is a busy man.

Less than a week after the Warriors lost their first NBA Finals in three years, Golden State's general manager -- armed with the 28th and 58th picks in the 2019 NBA draft -- is looking to add a player that can contribute to a crippled roster. 

Throughout Myers' tenure - with sharpshooters Klay Thompson and Steph Curry on the roster -- the GM has prioritized defensive-minded playmakers instead of scorers in the draft. In 2018, he notably selected rookie guard Jacob Evans, who struggled in his first season in Oakland and will be playing for their Summer League team

However, this practice could be put on hold Thursday evening as the Warriors' two top wing players-- Durant and Thompson -- will be expected to sit out most, if not all, of the 2019-20 season with major rehabilitation timetables. Even if both re-sign, the Warriors will enter next season with two top players on the bench. In preparation for Thursday's draft, Myers said his staff has worked out between 40 to 50 prospects, prioritizing talent over specific roster needs. 

“Good young players, whatever position they are,” Myers said Thursday afternoon. “Those players have the most value in the NBA – rookie contract players that show themselves to have a skill and can play. Especially next year, we afford more opportunity for who we pick. Maybe we get a guy who can step in. We will have more opportunity next year. No matter what happens in free agency, we’ll have more of an opportunity for a young guy.”

The Warriors’ summer of uncertainty extends past Thompson and Durant. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney also will be free agents, and the team will have to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to second-year big man Jordan Bell. 

"We’d like to have as many picks as we can, but I think we have to be aware that we’ve got some youth already," Myers said. "Who will be back? How many spots will we have to fill? What positions? But we feel like it’s a decently deep draft, so we’ll see if it makes any sense to get another pick and what we would do with it. There’s a lot of moving parts to this one this year."

Adding to Golden State's conundrum, Thompson and Durant will be rehabbing from potentially career-altering injuries throughout the season. Thompson - who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and has yet to have surgery - will command a max deal, as will Durant, who is expected to miss next season while he recovers from a torn Achilles.

If both players re-sign to five-year max-deals, the Warriors will have to pay more than $1 billion in salary and luxury tax over the next four years, including a nearly $375 million in salary during the 2019-20 season. This would leave just the taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum deals to help lure free agents. 

Despite Golden State's high-priced roster, owner Joe Lacob, who oversees the third most valuable franchise in the NBA, per Forbes, hasn't been shy about paying a premium for talent. 

"I’m fortunate to work for someone where, people say these things, but winning has really always been the primary goal," Myers said. "We run a business, so it’s not being completely fiscally irresponsible. But every time that I’ve come to Joe about something that has benefited us competitively, he has responded affirmatively and said, ‘OK.’

"There’s never even really been a hard budget so to speak. We’ve got to be cost-conscious, too, though I think that anybody would, he added. "I think the decisions that we’ve made — don’t trust my words, trust our payroll. Just look at what it is, it’s big."

A week ago, hours after the team was eliminated Thursday night, forward Draymond Green said it's "not smart" to bet on Golden State's demise. Less than a week later, Myers will try to pick the right players to make sure his forward's words ring true. 

“You want a guy you can project playing in the playoffs,” Myers said. “That’s what we’re all trying to do – win playoff games. Can you find a guy that has a skill? Can you find a guy that you believe has the potential to do it?”

Willie Cauley-Stein opens up about time with Kings, how things ended

Willie Cauley-Stein opens up about time with Kings, how things ended

SALT LAKE CITY -- Warriors center Willie Cauley-Stein bunkered up in a corner of the visitor's locker room at Vivint Smart Home Arena under unusual circumstances before Friday night's loss to the Utah Jazz. 

For the last four years, he has sat in a similar area twice a season, with "Sacramento" across his chest. Now, two days before his first matchup against his former team, Cauley-Stein is still reconciling his emotions. 

"It's going to be weird," Cauley-Stein said to NBC Sports Bay Area. "It's my brothers over there, and I went to the battle with them dudes and for them four years. So it's going to be cool just to see my guys again and be on the other side of it, it's going to be cool to just to see how different it is." 

Cauley-Stein’s time in Sacramento came as the Kings were in peril.

Six months before the Kings drafted Cauley-Stein, the team fired coach Mike Malone after a year-and-a-half on the job. Sacramento opted to hire George Karl midseason, reportedly to the dissatisfaction of the roster.

By the end of his tenure, Cauley-Stein had two head coaches in three years. The Kings never made the postseason, holding true to the perception he heard about Sacramento when he was drafted. 

"Before I got drafted there, [University of Kentucky] coach [John Calipari] kind of warned me what that organization was like already,” Cauley-Stein admitted. “So, I mean, I just went in there just trying to get better. Every year just try to keep on getting better, and that's the way I approached the game and every day.”

All the while, Cauley-Stein garnered the reputation of inconsistency, much to his chagrin. While he posted respectable numbers, local observers complained about his propensity to occasionally disappear during games. 

Nonetheless, prior to last season, with solid numbers in tow, Cauley-Stein stated his goal for his fourth season was to “get paid.” Despite him averaging 11.9 points and a career-high 8.4 rebounds per game, the Kings missed the playoffs, leading to the center’s former agent Roger Montgomery to tell The Sacramento Bee that his client needed a “fresh start.”

According to Cauley-Stein, his agent’s comments came after the team had all but given up on their former first-round draft pick. 

‘Yeah, because they decided to go a different route,” Cauley-Stein said. “So like we tried to jump the curve and be on top of it.

“I might as well move on and show my work somewhere else. That’s the way me and my agent approached it was just like, 'They really don't want us, so we might as well take our talents somewhere else.' That's the kind of way we went on with it.” 

The prospect of leaving Sacramento left Cauley-Stein with a conundrum. The capital of California gave him the center the luxury of living on the West Coast, while providing a hometown feel similar to his small-town Kansas roots. 

“Sac was home,” Cauley-Stein admitted. “I was here for four years. Like, I lived there. I didn't go away for the offseason. I could go to the same neighborhood and go to my little like corner store and jones with my guys there and it's all love.” 

On the business side, the Kings decided to extend a qualifying offer to the center, giving the team the first right of refusal on any contract tendered from another organization. The Kings relented in late June, pulling the offer on the eve of free agency in a move Cauley-Stein believes hindered his options. 

"I feel like that kind of screwed things up for me a little bit," Cauley-Stein said. "Because people didn't know. So, then it was just a waiting game after that, all the deals was gone by that time."

A little over a week later, he signed a one-year contract with the Warriors, equipped with a player-option, giving him an opportunity to make true on his proclamation last season. However, his performance hasn't helped so far.

Despite flashes, Cauley-Stein is averaging just 7.7 points and 6.4 rebounds, the lowest output since his rookie year. Nonetheless -- with Steve Kerr coaching -- he says he wants to stay in the Bay Area long-term.  

"He wants to build a relationship with you," Cauley-Stein said of Kerr. "I think, in the past I hadn't had a relationship with my coach. [Former Kings coach Dave] Joerger, me and him had a pretty good rapport, pretty good, like cordial, but we never had like in-depth conversations about life and stuff like that, and the first couple of conversations I had with coach Kerr was real-life stuff and that hit home with me like, 'Damn, he really tried to get to know me.'"

[RELATED: How Warriors' players recruited Cauley-Stein]

Until the decision about his future is made, the center remains fond of his former home, even if it's not his current place of employment. 

"I'll always have a place for Sacramento in my heart," Cauley-Stein said. "Like I said, it's never, it was never bad blood. It was just like a business decision on their side. So, I had to make one on my side."

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell is rapidly approaching a date some NBA observers have circled since the Warriors acquired him this summer.

Golden State can trade Russell as soon as Sunday, Dec. 15, and the 23-year-old has been the source of trade speculation during his time in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski reported Wednesday, citing sources that the Minnesota Timberwolves "remain interested in Russell" and that the guard "seems to be realistic in understanding that he may not be long for the Warriors once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return to full health."

Russell is averaging a career-high 22.4 points per game this season to go with 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds, serving as the top offensive option in the absence of his All-Star teammates. He knew he wouldn't play much with Thompson this season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but Curry's broken hand threw a wrench into the Warriors' -- and thus Russell's -- prospects this season. Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised how Russell has handled the rumors surrounding him. 

"Money doesn't buy peace of mind," Kerr said Friday morning (H/T San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau). "It doesn't buy a sense of belonging, a sense of, 'Alright, this is my team.' If there's speculation that you're going to be traded all the time, I don't care how much money you make, I don't care who you are. That's tough. That's no fun to deal with, and this season has been nowhere close to what D'Angelo thought it would be when he first signed with us.

"There's no Steph. We're struggling to win games. He's had his own injuries, and we're throwing all kinds of different lineups out there based on the other injuries we've faced." 

Russell has played in just 15 of the Warriors' 27 games this season, playing on a team that looks far more like the Los Angeles Lakers of his first two seasons than the playoff-contending Brooklyn Nets a year ago -- let alone the reigning Western Conference champion Warriors. 

[RELATED: How Warriors' Chriss earning chance to start at center]

Kerr, who entered this season with the highest winning percentage in NBA history (.785), is as aware of Golden State's dramatically different reality as anyone. He said it has only brought out the best in Russell. 

"So given all that, he's played really well, and he's been a great teammate and he's doing everything he needs to do to solidify his position here," Kerr continued. "But this is the NBA here, and we never know what's coming, what's happening. So, it's a difficult position to be in in general, but for him in particular it's strange set of circumstances and he's handling it really well." 

Whether or not the Warriors trade Russell, it's clear Kerr holds him in high regard.