— Story narrated by Anthony Slater, Marcus Thompson II and Sam Amick.
The six crouched, in full view, in the equipment area of theKriegerLocker Room: Joe Lacob, Bob Myers, Kirk Lacob, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Kent Lacob and Shaun Livingston.
The Warriors had just suffered what might be their worst loss of the season, beaten by aPhoenixsquad withoutDevin Booker,Chris PaulandDeandre Ayton. And it happened that night at the Chase CenterStefan CurryComing back from injury should trigger a re-emergence. Instead, the Warriors sat 20-21 at halftime after the embarrassing loss, a large and worrisome sample to set off this swift Golden State brass peak.
But while they simultaneously manage the defense of a championship and the development of the future, bigger questions swirl about the franchise and threaten to hasten the waning days of one of the sport's most respected dynasties. And perhaps the biggest question mark was at 6ft 7 and had already transformed into a hoodie and tracksuit for this post-game session.
How long will Bob Myers be part of this brain trust?
In his 12th season as the Warriors' head of basketball operations, he's the second most important voice in this room full of organizational brokers, but his contract expires in July.
As the clock ticks and extension talks remain flat, many around Myers are wondering if — and evenpredictthat – his days with the Warriors are coming to an end. This result would raise some critical questions: Why? What could come next? How would that affect the Warriors?
Myers' departure would certainly worry Curry. Myers is the Warriors' manager Curry is closest to.
The reigning Finals MVP has been increasingly vocal about his win-now prospect, and Myers was the main voice in easing Curry's concerns about the franchise's direction and commitment to the present. Curry's bias is that Warriors management is maximizing the championship window and insisting it's still open. One has to wonder how the face of the franchise would react to losing the face of the front office - whose signature is movingAndré Iguodala,Kevin DurantandAndreas Wigginswere crucial for winning rings.
In addition to Curry, Steve Kerrs andDraymond Greens close relationship with Myers are well known. Green has a player option for next season and could opt for a walk. Kerr's current contract expires after next season. Dunleavy is Myers' right hand man and was brought in to be his confidant. Several key figures in the organization have close ties to Myers,Therefore, his departure has the potential to be the first domino in the transition to the next era.
Draymond Green speaks with Warriors general manager Bob Myers before the game against the LA Clippers on March 8, 2022. (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
With all the nuance surrounding the situation, one thing is clear: Team and league sources, who, like all sources in this story, have been granted anonymity so they can speak freely, say Myers believes he should be among the highest-paid front offices Executives in the league, if not the highest. He was the architect of fourNBATitle teams, was the lead recruiter in signing the Durant Free Agency and was the trusted liaison between players, coaches and owners. Myers has also served as the chief problem solver, the coolant in an ecosystem that regularly overheats.
Myers, who declined to comment on the story, would strongly prefer his contract situation to remain out of the spotlight while the Warriors attempt to defend their title. He has managed to keep all of his previous negotiations largely behind the scenes. But the phasing-out status -- and perceived accessibility -- of one of the NBA's most in-demand executives is emerging as one of the most significant stories beneath the league's surface. And money, as almost always, seems to be at the heart of this potential divide.
Joe Lacob tellsDie AthleticsTim Kawakami in early January that Myers is already"Top 3 among General Managers"in wages. There is clearly a difference of opinion.
According to several people with rudimentary knowledge of executive salaries in the league, Myers ranks somewhere in the sixth, seventh, or eighth place on the base salary totem pole.
While front-office salaries are typically even more confidential than those of coaches, executives like Daryl Morey of Philadelphia, Masai Ujiri of Toronto, Pat Riley of Miami, Tim Connelly of Minnesota, R.C. Buford and Leon Rose of New York are considered by industry experts to be the highest paid and probably above Myers when it comes to annual pay. The upper echelons of executives, league sources say, make more than $10 million. Incentives are often added to these deals. Myers achieved an incentive for the Warriors to win that final title.
Money can't be the only factor. Some existential considerations may underlie these negotiations. Known for his deep conversations and intellectual curiosity, part of the equation for Myers is contemplating what's next. After more than a decade of building a dynasty, guiding it through the intensity of modern investigation and living under the unrelenting pressure of the Warriors' championship standard, could Myers be interested in a new challenge? Would it be better for him and his family to move on and build another franchise away from the Golden State Fish Bowl? He left a successful career as a players agent to become an NBA manager. Is it now time to leave the front office behind and try a different industry? He recently started a mainstream podcast. Curry was his first guest.
Steph Curry shakes hands with Bob Myers in Game 3 of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 6, 2018. (Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Considering some of the opportunities Myers has presented, who could blame him for wanting an elite bid from the Warriors? Most notably, the Sixers' recruitment of Myers in the summer of 2018 spoke volumes about his worth beyond the walls of the Warriors.
In the wake of the PR disaster that wasthe fire of Bryan Colangelo,the Sixers, sources say, went to great lengths to woo Myers.Philadelphiawas poised to take him to the top of the league pay scale, or at least very close to it. Ultimately, Myers decided to stay with the Warriors. If he were to leave Golden State this summer, he would probably be the most desirable front-office free agent on the market.
But where could he go?
According to sources close to the situation, Washington, Phoenix and New York should be watched as possibilities. Meanwhile, in front-office circles, where Myers' situation has become a hot topic, the recent focus has been on theclippers. They have the richest owner in all of professional sports in Steve Ballmer, the 66-year-old former Microsoft CEO with a$83 billion net worthwho has chosen the blank check in his title chase since buying the team in 2014.
Myers' roots run deep into the Los Angeles area. He played at UCLA, earned his law degree from Loyola Law School and was a prominent agent at LA-based Wasserman Media Group before joining the Warriors in 2011 as assistant general manager. However, Ballmer's injury-stricken team has been a disappointment in this so farKawhi Leonard–Paul GeorgeEra, a source with knowledge of the Clippers' operation, pushed back on the much-discussed Myers possibility.
Bottom line: It's far too early to say where Myers might end up if he leaves the Warriors, or if he stays in the NBA at all. Sources close to Myers have also left open the possibility that he could pursue opportunities outside of sports. That would lend credibility to the idea that Myers could leave the Warriors because of burnout.
There are competitive advantages to working under a majority owner like Joe Lacob. He has spent historical salary amounts on the roster. When a coaching staff overhaul was requested two summers ago, he opened the checkbook. They continue to expand their front office workforce, scouting department and medical staff.
That's the case for Myers to stay. It would be hard to find a place that gives him more resources. Working in the Bay Area where he was born and raised, he becomes a legend for the franchise he grew up with. And all while making big bucks, if not the most in the league, and getting the perks of managing the NBA's glamor team.
In the NBA world, what the Warriors have is considered elite living, driven by an insatiable desire for unbridled success. Because of this, some insiders believe that if Lacob is presented with a deadline and a dollar amount that must match to keep Myers, he will pay what it takes to keep him around. Board salaries are not credited against the luxury tax.
But the same constant ambition that makes the Warriors an elite franchise is the same constant ambition that weighs on those in direct orbit. Sources say Lacob is more involved than ever in day-to-day staffing decisions. He studies the design, takes part in training courses and makes large boards. He played an influential role in the franchise's decision to use its five most recent picks on up-and-coming teenagers, rather than diverting some of that capital into older and reliable help to maximize the present.
The Warriors achieved that two-timeline balance and still won a title this past June. This season, after the back end of the roster has been inundated with unprepared youth, the mix has become more problematic. Losses have piled up, creating added tension for everyone involved in rigging the win.and-Develop needle.
Myers is the leading mediator of this high-stakes battle. When fundamental concerns arise from Kerr or the All-Stars on the list, Myers is the trusted ear. When agents wonder why their young clients can't have a career, Myers is the explainer. When Durant tore his Achilles tendon, whenJames Weisemannmissed an entire season when Draymond beat GreenJordan Poole, it is Myers who faces the public. As Lacob raises the temperature, Myers is closest to the fire and the staff's puffer.
This summer tends to peak. Rising luxury tax worries and the Warriors' soaring salary figures are leading to painful personnel decisions. That could include a choice of whether to part ways with Green orKlay Thompson, two living franchise legends who have both expressed relative unease about their future with the Warriors beyond their current contracts.
Myers can't be thrilled at the prospect of making that call, especially considering he has to relay this message to #30.
Not that none of the other executives who've also thrown themselves into this franchise want to make that call, either. But as the dynasty comes to an end and warriors turn to the future, it might convince Myers to ride into the sunset. Perhaps the fact that he's the highest-paid manager in the league could persuade him to stay. Or maybe leaning on the remaining years of the championship window will trigger his loyalty to the Stars and convince him he still has work to do with the Warriors.
A lot has to happen before Myers' future is decided. What happens on the pitch could be the deciding factor in the end. Do the Warriors hit a late run in the regular season, look like a contender in the postseason, and provoke the Warriors to spend what it takes to keep the core together? Or do they continue on their current path of mediocrity, unable to sustain excellence long enough to take focus off the future?
Bob Myers watches during practice and media availability as part of the 2017 NBA Finals on June 6, 2017. (Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Three nights after losing to Phoenix, the Warriors helped elevate an NBA-record crowd of 68,323 in San Antonio. More importantly, they beat that upTracksfor a feel-good road win, her fourth in 20 attempts away from the Chase Center. It was the start they needed on a five-game journey.GO DEEPERThompson: Warriors' enduring popularity shines on record-breaking night in San Antonio
But then they went to Chicago and lost to themBullenwithout their best playerDeMar DeRozan. The Warriors gave up 73 points in the second half in a lackluster effort that sent them back below .500.
After this game, the Warriors sheet metal huddled together again. Dunleavy - who some have hinted at as a possible successor to Myers - Kent Lacob and Livingston were close by. But Myers wasn't in the room. He would later join the team in D.C. to join. But it was a window into the possible future, a debriefing and problem-solving session without the 6-7 guy in the hoodie.
(Fotoillustration: John Bradford /the athlete; Foto: Bart Young / Getty Images)