- Programming note: Steph Curry's "Dubs Talk" interview with Kerith Burke and Monte Poole debuts Wednesday on NBC Sports Bay Area following "Dubs Talk Live."
For the better part of the last 10 years, the Warriors have displayed the essential components of a successful sports franchise: committed ownership, intuitive management, skilled coaching, superb talent.
Rewards rolled in at an unprecedented level.
But now, as the team battles for playoff position in the glutted middle of the Western Conference, that rare and delicate equation is in peril.
Bob Myers, general manager since 2012-13 – the first of eight trips to the playoffs in 10 seasons – is in the final months of his contract and his uncertain future generates a measure of anxiety among those who value his presence.
Count Stephen Curry among them – and he’s not alone.
“We were all young at one point when we were trying to figure it out,” Curry said on recent NBC Sports Bay Area “Dubs Talk” podcast. “One of his special abilities is to connect with you where you are. Be truthful and honest and authentic about how difficult the NBA is in the sense of decisions that are made and the business side of it. But also, he has a personal touch that you trust.”
Every great organization, in sports or elsewhere, has at least one executive who specializes in greasing sticky relationships, someone equally skilled at handling issues delicate or trivial. An arbitrator/advisor/counselor. For the Warriors, that person is Myers.
“I don’t ever take that for granted,” Curry said. “The fact that I can have a difficult conversation with him. I can pick up the phone and let him know how I’m feeling. He’ll give it to me straight around where we are as a team or where I am individually.”
It was Myers who in 2017 advised CEO Joe Lacob not to bother negotiating a new contract with Curry’s agent, Jeff Austin, because Steph was a two-time MVP and two-time NBA champion whose value was not in question. When Curry became eligible for a “supermax” contract in 2021, he was one of the league’s top three players. Again, no need for negotiation.
Myers’ presence was significant in decisions by former players Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia to accept front office positions with the franchise after retiring. It is a factor in Klay Thompson saying he wants to be a “Warrior for life.”
If Draymond Green decides to opt into the final year of his contract, Myers will be one of the reasons.
“Bob is huge for us,” Green told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Some GMs put a team together and then they go into their office and watch to see if it works. You don’t see many GMs working daily, having conversations with guys, keeping a pulse of the team, and then having those tough conversations. General managers don’t do that in this league.
“Bob does. He’s incredible.”
Golden State’s basketball operation, has, for the most part, been based on a tripod model, with Curry representing the foundational leg, Myers the analytical leg and coach Steve Kerr the implementation leg.
The belief among many employed by the Warriors – and around the NBA – is that losing any one of the three would leave them diminished.
“I always talk about connectors on the floor,” Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Bob is our connector, organizationally, off the floor. His relationships with all the key figures are so important. His ability to connect with Steph and Draymond and Klay and, in the same moment, go upstairs and talk to Joe, talk to others in the front office, talk to media . . . he just has an amazing way with people.
“He keeps us connected in a business where it’s really easy to fray because of the pressures and the different factors involved.”
This has been a season in which those pressures have increased by the month. Coming off a 2022 championship that even they did not foresee, the Warriors – with the NBA’s highest luxury-tax bill, roughly $170 million – have remained trapped in the grip of mediocrity, never more than a few games above or below .500. The tangible factors are many, from injuries and absences to abysmal defense on the road.
Yet it would be naïve to assume Draymond’s future (he can opt out of his contract after the season) does not provide an undercurrent of instability, as many felt was the case four years ago with Kevin Durant. Same with Myers, whose conversations with Lacob have not reached resolution.
For a franchise that treasures stability and is led by a superstar who thrives in it, this can be unsettling. The Warriors, at their core, have been built around the tripod model, which is being threatened.
“I don’t know how you can decide (Myers’ role) in the championships and banners and all that, putting together a great team,” Curry said. “I recognize the extreme value he’s brought in just managing people. Very similar to coach Kerr in the way that they communicate.”
Said Kerr, a former GM: “Too often, people think of the GM as just the guy who drafts players or makes trades. It’s inherent in the title: general manager. You’re managing people. And Bob is absolutely brilliant managing people.”
Curry talked of the “trust” Myers has built from Day 1, through times good and bad. That trust is why Myers has been such an effective bridge at every level behind the scenes.
“It’s not just about one person,” Curry said. “I know that’s what drives the attention that sometimes becomes the narrative. Anybody who knows me, knows Draymond, knows Klay, we all understand what we all bring to the table.
“And then we have coach and Bob, who are representations of that in their roles and how important their roles are. Anytime you get in front of a mic or anytime you interview them or whatnot, they have a great way of representing themselves first and foremost but also our team and what our goals are. I think fans appreciate it. Free agents, when they are making decisions on whether they want to come to the Bay or not, all that stuff goes into it.”
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Myers has avoided public discussion of his future, preferring to keep the matter private until it is resolved.
But the franchise player has spoken, and his comments were echoed by the coach and the player considered the “heart and soul” of the Warriors. It’s clear none of them wants to see Myers leave, even if by choice.
If Myers wants to remain the team’s GM and continue to live in the region where he grew up, the ultimate decision will be up to Lacob’s willingness to not only provide fair compensation but also meet conditions desired by Myers.
There still is time, another three months, but the clock is ticking and it’s getting louder each day.