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Warriors’ Joe Lacob and Bob Myers discuss the two-timeline plan that spawned the championship

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BOSTON (AP) — Bob Myers, barefoot with a champagne bottle filled with Michelob Ultra, settled into a courtside chair near the visitor’s bench at the TD Garden. This was about an hour after his Warriors clinched a fourth title on the hardwood floor. Myers, a minute earlier, had spilled a stream of beer near the free throw line. Cigarette smoke filled the air. The arena had become a rage.

Parties like these are transformed into a moment of reflection. The conversations revolve around crucial moments of the climb. Myers’ mind was focused on last year’s draft. The Warriors had two valuable lottery picks, established stars who preferred help from veterans and a coach who wouldn’t have minded additional rookies being drafted with the current task in mind. Trade? Reach out to an older prospect?

Myers, Joe Lacob and the front office became teenagers with both picks: Jonathan Kuminga at No. 7, Moses Moody at no. the future. It was a commitment to the two-timeline plan that would define the season. Could they win now and develop now?

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“Whoever we chose, we didn’t think it would be a reason for us to win the championship or not,” Myers said. The Athletic. “So we thought, let’s pick the best players that were on the board. Many people wanted us to exchange them for a star. This isn’t said along the lines of ‘I told you so’, but we thought Andrew Wiggins could play that role. We did it. Not many people did. But we wanted to see him in that role of the fourth man.”

The day after the draft, at Kuminga and Moody’s introductory press conference, Lacob, in a declarative interview with the athletic – He fought the idea that by using the picks instead of trading them, the Warriors were sacrificing Curry’s last best shot at a championship. His belief was that the current roster had enough to win him over.

“If we can’t, then you should look at Joe Lacob and Bob Myers and Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins and say you weren’t good enough,” Lacob said then. “You’re paying all that money, and you weren’t good enough. They need to be good enough, and they should be. They have won before. They are a bit older, but still Really right. Klay will be back. That is the key. I think we’ll be good enough. Yes.”

In the night haze on that Celtics floor, having absorbed the full impact of Thompson’s return and the appearance of Jordan Poole and the rise of Wiggins and the brilliant combination of Curry’s offense and Green’s defense, it’s more easy to look back and write the way. But when Lacob expressed that confidence last July, it was an unpopular opinion.

The biggest believers had the Warriors finishing in the middle of the conference, a fading semi-threat. Their biggest skeptics had them out of the playoff picture.

“They were in doubt,” Lacob said, wearing a champagne-soaked dress shirt. the athletic. “But these guys are not 40 years old. We believed in that core. Not many teams have a core of four. Many people say core three. I say core four. We are spending the money to do that. So, we complement and surround that team. I know some people thought we could have done more, gotten another star. But who were we going to catch? Who was available that would make a difference? We didn’t think there would be, and we really wanted these young guys to develop and learn from these guys. they’ve learned. We’re going to be even better as a result of that for years to come.”

Wiggins, in hindsight, was the key to the success of the win now, build now plan. It was the 27-year bridge between the two eras. Curry, Thompson and Green needed a fourth high-impact playoff player to get back on top. The outside thinking was that Wiggins’ salary, coupled with assets, could be used as a vehicle to land that fourth player. But the internal belief was that Wiggins could become that player

“Absolutely,” Lacob said. “I said it from day 1, and Steve Kerr said the same thing. He’s a quintessential forward who just played for a not-so-great team, that maybe didn’t get the best culture. We thought if you put him in our situation, he could be great. He didn’t have to be 1A. He already saw what he did in these playoffs. He was really, really great.”

Wiggins averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 22 playoff games. He took on the primary defensive duty against Luka Dončić in the Western Conference finals and Jayson Tatum in the NBA Finals, keeping both in their least efficient series. He had great scoring nights in massive moments. He hit the playoff dunk on Dončić. He grabbed 35 rebounds in the three-game streak that ended the Celtics. He was a two-way force that was worth every penny of the ultimate deal from him.

“I’m so proud of you,” Lacob told Wiggins as he walked past him in the hectic postgame scene, a Canadian flag draped over Wiggins’ shoulder.

Wiggins’ contract is the symbol of the Warriors’ overpayroll. They were always going to spend on Curry, Thompson and Green. D’Angelo Russell’s maximum signings and trades that became Wiggins was management’s choice to keep a salary bracket alive, despite punitive tax penalties, in the belief that they would eventually rise back to the top.

“We are always evaluating,” Lacob said. “We wouldn’t spend that kind of money on the roster if we didn’t think we had a chance to win. When you think you have a chance to go far and compete for a championship, we believe we’ll go all out, use every last dollar. I guess a lot of teams can’t or won’t do that. We have great income. Our business side is so good. We generate income at a great rate, so we can spend a little more. No doubt about that. But we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t think we had a chance to win.”

Did the Warriors buy their way to another title?

“Oh come on,” said Lacob. “That’s a joke; I think that’s ridiculous. All of our players are guys that we draft or minimum signings except for one trade (Wiggins). One trade and no free agents beyond the minimum. How can you say we bought the title? It’s crazy.”

But there are some obvious examples where Lacob’s willingness to spend separates him from most other owners and gives the Warriors a competitive advantage. Look at the fifteenth man of him.

Gary Payton II played 203 playoff minutes, and it would have been twice as many, if he hadn’t broken his elbow in the middle of the race. The Warriors were at plus-49 with him on the floor. He became a vital defensive threat and a cutting goalscorer. In most other situations, he wouldn’t have fit financially on such an expensive list.

“GP was the 15th player that cost us $12 million,” Myers said. “That was a debate. Many homeowners would never have done that. We walk into camp saying we’re not going to sign a 15th guy. That’s $12 million. We are not doing that. It is not a minimum contract. But Gary was so good. We went to Joe and told him it would cost us $12 million. And he thought we’d be left with 14. It’s the little decisions. We are trying to win a championship. We have a payslip that says that. You can’t have a payroll like that and not be in that title conversation. We wanted to see if they would defeat us. Maybe we would be defeated. But we wanted to give as much as we could financially with our resources.”

The Warriors partyed at a restaurant adjacent to TD Garden until early Friday morning. They will fly back to the Bay Area around 11 a.m. local time. The parade arrives Monday in San Francisco. Curry, Thompson and Green will savor this title in the coming weeks.

But Myers, Lacob and the front office quickly fall back into a routine. The draft is Thursday. Free agency comes a week after that. The Warriors have the 28th pick and then several key roster decisions regarding their veterans. Payton and Kevon Looney are unrestricted free agents who just played bigger paydays. Poole becomes eligible for the extension. Green and Wiggins could ask for veteran extensions.

“We don’t know what the market is going to be for our guys,” Myers said. “We will make an effort to keep the team together. It’s a good balance between young, old and in between. There isn’t a boy we don’t like. So we’ll try.”

“You’ll have to see what we do,” Lacob added. “We have the draft and free agency to come. We will form our team for next year after much discussion over the next two weeks. We have a good idea of ​​what we’re going to do, obviously. We have a great list. I don’t anticipate many changes.”

This playoff run, which included 12 games at the Chase Center, reopened the financial floodgates that help the Warriors pay for their roster. That should help in the retention of this core. But no matter how everything reconfigures, Myers and Lacob have probably gained a little more confidence from this fourth title and the decisions leading up to it.

“Fortunately in our market, people are mad at our team,” Myers said. “We won this one, but 10 games into next season, if it doesn’t go well, they will be on us. I’m lucky to work for a team that people care about so much, but we have to do what we think is right, even in the face of people’s misgivings. We don’t do everything right, but this worked.”


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(Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber photo: Kyle Terada/USA Today)

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