Warriors assistant general manager Bob Myers is like mostothers in the teams front office -- awaiting the start of the 2011-12 season.Its been more than six months since Myers gave up being an agent and took ajob in Golden States front office.I had a chance to catch up with Myers to find out how hesdoing in his job and what will happen once the lockout ends.Question: What have you been doing?Myers: I get asked that a lot. For us,with all the changes in the organization weve had to do quite a bit -- all newcoaching staff, new trainer, new strength coach, just hired security for theteam. Im working with our president Rick Welts, hiring a generalcounsel.Were running out of people to hire. After that, itsgetting ready for when we can go back to work.Question: Will this be challengingbecause when you head into free agency and training camp its likely to becompressed because of the lockout?Myers: I think this will be different foreverybody. Everything is going to get squeezed. Preparation will be key.Approaching it from the other side for me will be different. First time doingit.Its still the same game, so to speak, for lack of a betterword. Ill see it from a different angle. I feel like Im more of a buyer thana seller now. But youve still got to make the best decision and inevitablyyoure still negotiating.Relationships will be key. Information its alwaysimportant to have the best information. But it will be different for me thefirst time around.Question: Youre going to have a youngteam Have you talked in general what your strategy will be once the lockoutends?Myers: Weve had a lot of time to go overwhat the steps will be once this is resolved. There are three ways to improveyour team: Draft, free agency and trades.Well, the draft has come and gone. You hope youve made theright decisions there and we think we did.Then theres trades that you explore. A lot of things havebeen put on hiatus. And theres free agency. You explore all of them. Theinteresting thing now because the period will be shortened, the question ishow do you accomplish a lot of the things in a short amount of time? Youregoing to have a of balls in the air and a lot of different variables to dealwith. Some of the decisions you make will have a domino effect.Once certain players have signed, take them off your wantedlist. Youre constantly going through the process, processing information andseeing how it helps your team. The more efficient and the more diligent you canbe in that process the better youll come out of it.I dont think you want to make rash decisions. In sports,there is always emotion when it comes to making a decision. So you have to becareful to make the right decision without letting emotion or short-termthinking play into it at all.Question: You guys have reshaped theentire front office. How is that going? Is that all done?Myers: I dont think theres anythingleft. Thats one of the things weve been working hard on. Its all new people,which is great, but everybody has to get acclimated with one another. Thatswhat were doing.If it was a whole new group in your office, even thoughtheyre all accomplished and experienced, youd still have to get to knowthem.So thats happening with the coaching staff. Were all goingto know each other. Were all going to know the trainers, strength coaches.Theyre going to know us. Thats good for our organizationspecifically.I get asked, 'Whats going on?' Our organization has made somany changes so this period has allowed us to get to know each other withoutthe pressure of time.Question: Youve got owner Joe Lacob, whois very involved. Youve got Jerry West, youve got you, Larry Riley. MarkJackson is someone who also has said hes going to want to know whats goingon. Is there a danger of too many voices?Myers: This is what I believe. If youhave people willing to leave their ego at the door and recognize theyre notgoing to have the best information or have the right answer all the time -- andbe OK with that, and say this time somebody else might have had a better way togo about it -- then it will be fine.Ive known Larry a long time. Ive known Mark a long time.Ive known Mark and Jerry 10-plus years. That gives you the ability to have thehard conversations when youve known somebody a long time.Certainly its Joes team. If there is a situation where someoneneeds to step in and make the final decision it will be Joe. Everybody knowsthat and nobody has an issue with that. The only time weve gone through it --and I can tell you as an example-- was the draft.Not everybody lined up perfectly at the beginning. But whenit came down to decide we were all on the same page. Will there be days whenone person doesnt think if it was their decision theyd make the same onewere all making? Of course. Thats OK. The mistake people make is allowing oneperson to make a decision without input.Jerry, whos been doing it so long it would beirresponsible not to listen to his experience. So, it makes sense to get a goodgroup together.
OAKLAND -- The unlikeliest star of this NBA postseason could not and should not be blamed if he wakes up each morning blowing kisses toward his suddenly charmed life.
JaVale McGee has, in the span of seven months, been transported from the bottom of league’s recycling bin to the top of its penthouse. He’s in a great place, literally and figuratively. He’s doing spectacular things on a wonderful team that enjoys his presence and knows how to activate his skills.
Formerly the unwitting class clown of the NBA, a man who drew eye rolls on sight, McGee, all 7 feet of him, is a bona fide April star.
“Oh, y’all on the JaVale bandwagon now, huh?” teammate Kevin Durant cracked Wednesday, grinning broadly while facing Bay Area media.
McGee, 29, has been in the league for nine seasons, and this is the first time he has been in the driver’s seat of a bandwagon. He was the breakout performer as the Warriors blasted through the first round of the playoffs by laying a four-game sweep on the Trail Blazers McGee played 49 minutes, scoring 39 points on 78.3-percent shooting, with 17 rebounds and nine blocks.
The Warriors outscored Portland by 48 points during McGee’s limited time on the floor. His offensive and defense numbers are off-the-charts stellar. So thrilled is he to be a part of this postseason that he’s almost giddy to get any playing time at all.
“I’m happy with the minutes I’m getting,” McGee said. “I’m as efficient as I can be and we’re winning. So I can’t be the guy that says ‘Play me more minutes,’ when what you’re doing with me is working on my behalf and the team’s behalf. So I don’t have any problems with as many minutes I’m getting as long as we win.”
This is a man with perspective. McGee concedes that as the days ticked by last July and August and into early September without a contract offer, he wondered if he still had a career. He had played with four teams, most recently Dallas in 2015-16, when he battled injuries.
“I really did think that maybe that was it, that basketball was done for me,” McGee recently told NBCSportsBayArea.com. “I had to start thinking about what else I wanted to do. But I didn’t have a plan.”
He didn’t need one, because the Warriors came calling and he signed with them on Sept. 16. He was a last-minute training-camp invitee with a non-guaranteed contract -- and the baggage that comes with being persistently ridiculed on national TV. Most notably, McGee was the butt of Shaquille O’Neal’s derision on ‘Shaqtin’ A Fool,” a video series featuring lowlights of gaffes made by players.
After snagging the last open spot on the roster, McGee slowly began making himself useful. Midway through the season, he had become a fan favorite at Oracle Arena, where crowds begin applauding and cheering the instant he rises from the bench and walks to the scorer’s table to enter a game.
He’s a master at going up and grabbing lobs and throwing the ball through the rim. He’s an imposing shot-blocker. His paint presence on offense automatically compromises defenses, giving deep-shooting teammates such as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Durant additional space with which to operate.
Being in the right place, at the right time, with teammates that play to his gifts, has done more than revive McGee’s career. It has taken him off lowlight shows and made him a staple of highlight shows. He won’t have to wait long at all this summer before contract offers are waved in front of his face.
“When you’re playing with Draymond (Green) and Steph and Klay and Andre (Iguodala), this whole team, it makes everybody better,” Durant explained. “From the top guy to the bottom guy, everybody gets better from just playing with a smart group of players and playing with such great talent. Everybody plays to their strength here.”
Nobody does so more than McGee, whose greatest strength may be his effort. It’s his sheer hustle that most endears him to teammates and coaches and fans. His max-effort approach generally results in making a high impact and maintaining over no more than 12 to 18 minutes per game.
“Most 7-footers, when it comes to pick-and-roll action, we’re telling them: ‘Hey, kind of be close to the screen, but it’s OK if you’re down the floor,’” Brown said. “But we’re telling him in pick-and-roll situations . . . be up the floor, be up the floor.
“So he’s up the floor, then he’s chasing the ball to the rim, blocking it, trying to get a rebound. Then sometimes, he’s closing out, contesting a shot. And then we’re having him set the screen and, ‘Hey, every time you set a screen, you roll. If you don’t get it, come back out, set a screen and roll again.’
“So he expends a lot of energy with how hard he plays. We feel he’s a five- to six-minute type guy. Then you sit him down.”
McGee plays as if every minute matters, as if the game might be taken away. As if it’s the last time he’ll play it. Perhaps because, for a few weeks, he thought it might be.
OAKLAND -- For the first time since he joined the coaching staff last summer, Mike Brown on Wednesday morning arrived at the Warriors facility a man in charge.
As acting head coach, he would decide when practice started and when it ended, and conduct proceedings in between.
The general activity was not much different for anyone else, though, as it continues to become evident that everything the Warriors do for the foreseeable future will be a Brown-Kerr, or Kerr-Brown, production.
“Steve is going to be a part of this process the whole time,” Brown said after practice. “Almost before I do anything, I’m going to consult with him. The only time I won’t consult with him is probably during a game.”
Since Kerr’s announcement last Sunday that he was taking an indefinite leave to attend to personal health issues, Brown has been wielding the clipboard. He actually coached Game 3 against Portland last Saturday, in Kerr’s absence, before knowing in advance he’d also coach Game 4 Monday night.
Brown is 2-0, with the Game 4 win clinching a Warriors sweep of the Trail Blazers. Yet Brown is quick to remind anyone that he is following the plan laid out by Kerr. The two exchanged texts Tuesday and, according to Brown, “spoke at length” after the game between the Jazz and the Clippers -- one of which will face the Warriors in the next round.
Though the Warriors are operating under a different head coach, all indications are the atmosphere around the team remains stable and relatively unchanged.
“Obviously it’s different personalities, but when you make it about the players, when you make it about winning, all that other stuff really doesn’t matter,” Kevin Durant said. “He coaches us. He coaches the game of basketball and he does it very well. Our whole coaching staff does the same thing.
“When it’s about basketball, it’s not about trying to have authority over us. He’s just coaching us. He’s just coaching us up. He’s just telling us the proper way to do things on the basketball court. It’s pretty simple when you try to do that. Then it’s on us to try to execute.”
Execution has gone well, particularly over the last six quarters of the series against Portland. The Warriors wiped out a 16-point deficit in the second half to win Game 3, and then rolled to a 35-9 start in Game 4 before coasting to the closeout victory.
Brown was on the sideline in Game 4, with Kerr watching the game from the locker room.
It’s fairly apparent, though, that everyone involved feels a heightened sense of accountability and ownership.
“Mike has had a pretty big voice throughout the whole season,” Durant said. “He’s been a head coach before, understands what it takes to be a head coach. And the coaching staff is just so smart, and they empower each other.
“Anybody, if you’re around us on a day-to-day basis, anybody can tell that they work well as a group. Coach Kerr does a great job. He spearheads it all by empowering everybody, from the coaches to the players.”