Warriors GM says landing the former MVP remains 'surreal'
POSTED: Jul 13, 2016 7:54 AM ET
Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers discusses signing Kevin Durant.
LAS VEGAS — General manager Bob Myers was asked when it finally set in that the Golden State Warriors landed Kevin Durant and he said it hasn't, and that about sums up the mood around the organization since Durant announced his decision July 4 and signed July 7.
"Surreal," was the word Myers used more than once.
In so many ways. How he got the good news from Durant on Independence Day while standing in almost the exact same spot in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., some 200 miles northeast of Oakland, as when Andre Iguodala phoned in 2013 to report he was coming to Golden State as a free agent. How a neighbor of Myers' in-laws became the second person beyond the Durant inner-circle to learn of a historic moment in NBA history, before owner Joe Lacob or coach Steve Kerr. That Myers was certain all along Durant was not coming. And the part about former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.
Behind The Scenes: Durant Arrives In Golden State
Kevin Durant arrives in the Bay Area and partakes in an interview on the way to the Warriors' announcement of his signing.
Plus, just finding a moment to celebrate Durant's decision has been tough for Myers amid the sleep-deprived days of free agency, including the meeting with Durant in the Hamptons outside New York City, and the contrasting emotions of having to trade Andrew Bogut and renounce free agents to make Durant fit under the salary cap. The mood swings in every direction, mostly to the positive and to the exhaustion, just as it did several times during the chase itself.
NBA.com: Between the time you were told you had a meeting and the meeting itself, how much time are you preparing what to say? Do you want it scripted out or do you purposely want it to be a casual conversation?
Bob Myers: First of all, we weren't entirely sure if we were going to get a meeting or what was going to happen. You see the speculation, but we didn't know anything. We didn't have much time. We prepared as if being asked. I forget when it was actually set. But our philosophy was and is just be who we are and if he likes us that's great and if he doesn't that's OK too. Just try to be authentic and genuine. What I learned being around our players that attended the meeting with Steve and Joe and Kirk (Lacob, assistant general manager) was you develop this affinity for your own group. What got me through the process of waiting to hear whether he would come or not, which was after the meeting, from July 1st to the 4th, was knowing that if he didn't come I still really loved our guys and who we were and were happy to kind of make another go of it. It was almost one of those situations where I felt good either way, but clearly getting a player of his caliber was the best result. I just never actually prepared for that outcome emotionally. I just didn't. I didn't think it was going to happen. People now, in retrospect, look at the decision and say, "Well, yeah, it makes sense." But for someone who was close to it, after we met, I never thought that the odds were in our favor. Maybe that's my own general manager kind of self-preservation or defense mechanisms coming in. I actually didn't. I was more surprised. When he called to tell me on July 4th, I had run through the concession speech and not the acceptance speech, so I didn't know what to say when he said yes.
NBA.com: Are there meetings between you and Joe, you and maybe some of the players, with Steve? Are you saying, "Here's what we want to talk about. Let's emphasize this. Let's stay away from another topic?"
BM: The night before the meeting we were in New York and we went to dinner and we talked about, "Is there anything anybody wants to say? Is there anything we should say?" We didn't get into a lot of what we shouldn't say. We just said to be very respectful of him and what he's accomplished and don't try to force him in any way. Just be ourselves and be honest about what we felt. More importantly, it was really for the players to communicate their desires because in my opinion players make decisions like that based on who they're going to play with and who's going to coach them, not who the GM is by any stretch. Our guys had a good idea of what they wanted to say and we trust them to say the right thing.
NBA.com: So how much time do you think you put into this meeting that could change the history of the entire franchise?
BM: (Laughs) It wasn't as scripted as some might think. It's basketball. It's not that complicated. We're a basketball team. "Do you want to come play for our basketball team?" Then we figure out how to do it. I spent more time thinking about if he said yes, what does that mean for our roster? How would we fill the roster out? If he said no, we would have immediately probably kept the same team together.
NBA.com: Different people show up with different things. Are you showing up with "Here's your marketing opportunities in the Bay Area, here's your housing opportunities"?
BM: We talked about that for one percent of the meeting. It was, "Here's our team, here's our coach. Do you have any questions?" In my experience, players make decisions because they want to win. If he felt like he could win with us, great. If he didn't or for another reason didn't feel like we were the right fit, that's OK too.
NBA.com: Are the Warriors talking the whole time or is it more that he is asking you guys questions? What's the interaction like?
BM: Probably pretty mixed. Him and his representatives spoke. Rich Kleiman (Durant's agent) spoke. His father spoke. His business manager, Charlie Bell, spoke. Kevin asked a couple questions. We were the first meeting. I don't know what happened in the other meetings. Our players spoke. Steve spoke. I spoke. Our owner spoke. I don't think anybody dominated the conversation. It was very balanced.
... In my opinion players make decisions like that based on who they're going to play with and who's going to coach them, not who the GM is by any stretch.
– Warriors GM Bob Myers
NBA.com: What was the toughest question he asked you? Did he put you on the spot with anything?
BM: I think he just wanted to be clear that he would be welcomed by our team and if, in the event that he chose us, was it a sincere offer, so to speak: Do you really want me?
NBA.com: You mean would he fit in?
BM: Yeah. "How would I fit?" Not just on the basketball court, but off the basketball court. Everybody has ideas about what a team is like because they watch them play or play against them. But it's like going to someone's house. Until you open the front door and go in you don't really know. You interact with them at a dinner party, you run into them around town, but when you go to their house it is different than you think. Sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse, but it's hard to get a read on that.
NBA.com: You leave the meeting thinking what?
BM: We're not getting him. He's quiet. He's doesn't say much. I had no history with him. Didn't know him. His group, his representatives, asked good questions, but I had no idea where we stood. It's just maybe my personality, but I did not leave thinking anything more than, well, we tried the best we could. That's all. I did not feel positive about it. That's the truth.
NBA.com: Was that the mood of the entire group or was anybody saying, "That went well. I think we're in this"? Or are most people sort of like, "This probably is a long shot."
BM: I think the common thought was we did the best we could and we'll see what happens. But I don't think anybody was walking around thinking things were tipping in our favor. I didn't hear anybody saying, "Wow, it seems like he's going to come." Nobody was speaking along that narrative.
NBA.com: What did you do after the meeting?
Overall, this is a guy we thought could help us and we're thrilled that he said yes, but immediately then other things spring into action. I didn't have a lot of time, nor did anyone, to process.
– Warriors GM Bob Myers, on Kevin Durant
BM: We went home. Free agency was happening, so we flew back (on a private plane). We had to drop (Stephen) Curry and Iguodala in Chicago for a wedding. We flew from the Hamptons. Flew home and started working on what-if-he-said-no plans.
NBA.com: How much are you paying attention to the news reports in the following days? The reports of Tom Brady showing up?
BM: That's entertaining, right? There's nothing you can do. You're entertained. That's something out of our control.
NBA.com: Are you swaying with every day?
BM: I thought once we saw Brady we should have tried with Montana. That's the reaction. I had no idea. You go into those things wondering what do they want to hear. I don't know. I've been an agent. I've been on the other side. Sometimes things fall flat. Sometimes as an agent I would see teams come in and do a really good job. What I felt was the most productive way to meet was just to be honest and forthright and let the player and his agent and his family know who you are. If the fit's right, they'll see it. If it's not, they'll go somewhere else.
I just didn't think he was going to come. I didn't think he was going to come.
– Myers, on Durant signing
NBA.com: How long did those days in between seem to you while waiting for the decision?
BM: Free agency's hard. Even without this those days are long, so it wasn't any longer. Being a little bit in limbo was hard because we couldn't act on anything else. Waiting and seeing everything happen around us in a time where things are happening very fast was a little difficult, but certainly he's a guy that you more than willing to be patient with.
NBA.com: When and where were you when you got the news?
BM: I was in Lake Tahoe. The same place I heard when we got Iguodala. I figured if I went up there it would be maybe some good luck. I go up there and my family doesn't see me and I sit on the phone for 20 hours a day. I remember walking around a loop near my wife's parent's house. I was on the phone and it was the same place where we got Iguodala. Right there.
Durant Breaking The News
Kevin Durant speaks with the media about how he came about his decision to join the Warriors as a free agent.
BM: Like literally 50 feet away when the call came. I was 50 feet away from where the Iguodala call came. Just outside their house. Wandering. Trying not to annoy my in-laws. My wife's parents are saying, "Why did you marry this guy? It's Fourth of July and all he does is talk on the phone." My kids don't know what I'm doing. But, yeah, same place.
NBA.com: Who called you?
BM: Rich Kleiman and Kevin. He put Kevin on the phone. He said, "Do you have a second to talk to Kevin?" I thought it was to tell us no. I really did. There was no "Get ready, it's going to be a good conversation." Nothing. It was "Do you have a minute to talk to Kevin?" I said, "Sure."
NBA.com: What does he tell you?
BM: He said, "I wanted to let you know that I appreciate you guys and how you conducted yourself. You're a first-class organization, but" -- and then he said "but" and I figured that was it -- "but I wanted to tell you that I'm coming. I'm going to be a Warrior." I don't even remember what I said after that. I probably said something stupid. I really don't remember. I might have said something like, "Are you serious?" which is a stupid response. But I think that's what I said.
Durant On Decision
Kevin Durant speaks with the media about leaving OKC.
NBA.com: What's your reaction?
BM: Joy. It's not often you get to add a player like that. But a little bit mixed, to be honest. Obviously net, really happy. But I knew what it meant for some other guys that had given us a lot. It's hard to take all those emotions in at once. Overall, this is a guy we thought could help us and we're thrilled that he said yes, but immediately then other things spring into action. I didn't have a lot of time, nor did anyone, to process. I didn't get to talk to Steve. Literally I didn't get to talk to Steve afterward. The news came out very quickly. I did get to talk to Joe. I think Joe heard about it before the media had heard it and that's about it. My wife and her parents. That's it.
NBA.com: Are you looking for a bear to high five? Is there some neighbor who's coming down the street?
BM: There was a neighbor. I told him. He heard me yell and he looked at me. I yelled and I looked at him. He gave me kind of a quizzical look. I said, "Yeah, but don't say anything. Nobody knows." Literally five seconds later. It was funny. It was good.
NBA.com: Do you have trades worked out in advance?
BM: I didn't. Nothing was worked out in advance.
NBA.com: How soon after are you making trade calls?
BM: Well you saw. Bogut basically got traded right away. Probably a couple hours.
NBA.com: Joe is a very emotional guy. What was his reaction?
BM: Probably a little bit of disbelief. I don't know. Maybe I'm not as confident or optimistic, but I didn't foresee that outcome. I'm not sure any of us did. I just didn't think he was going to come. I didn't think he was going to come.
NBA.com: When did it set in?
BM: I'll let you know. It hasn't. Maybe when we see him. Maybe training camp. I don't know.
NBA.com: Did you get much sleep that night?
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BM: No. I haven't got much sleep in a while.
NBA.com: I didn't know if there is a buzz with something like that or it's like any other day that time of year because you're working crazy hours anyway.
BM: It's free agency for everyone. Ask 29 other GMs. Nobody's sleeping. If they are I don't know how they're doing it. You don't sleep in free agency anyway, especially now, with things happening at the pace they are. I don't think anybody's sleeping. I haven't slept. I hope I can sleep pretty soon.
NBA.com: In your quiet moment -- I don't know if there's one that night or the next day -- is there any part of you that kind of says, "Wow"?
BM: You know what? I had a moment the other night where I was very appreciative of our players because they're the ones that allowed something like this to happen. They're the ones. It embodies kind of who they are, Steph Curry being the person he is as far as embracing another, quote unquote, superstar without any reservations. I had a moment the other night where I said, "We're lucky to have the guys we have." I had that moment. Without them it doesn't matter. This doesn't happen.
NBA.com: Is there any nervousness between the Fourth and when the moratorium ends and you can actually do the paperwork? Are you thinking about DeAndre Jordan from a year ago? Are you thinking if there's a way this could fall apart? Or are you pretty secure in thinking this is fine?
BM: I'm never secure. No. Never. Of course you always think the worst. That's what GMs do. We always wait for things to go bad. I flew back there (to the Hamptons) and hung out with him a couple days.
NBA.com: When did you go back?
BM: The fifth. It was just to get to know him. I didn't know him. It was just to get to know him. Talk about our team. Talk about where he might want to live. Stuff like that.
NBA.com: Just you alone?
BM: Yeah, I went back alone. Just to get to know him. It wasn't because I felt like he needed to be kind of made sure his decision was right. It was just to get to know him. Because starting now there will be no time. Once he gets here it'll be crazy.
NBA.com: And then to finally get to the day when he's signing?
BM: It was surreal, really. Really surreal, I think. It seemed like he was feeling really good and that was the most important thing, for him to feel good. Andre was there. Draymond (Green) showed up. We got him quickly introduced to some people in the organization and then he was gone. Took off to go to China (for a shoe tour). Bam.
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