Warriors GM Myers cautiously optimistic
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State general manager Bob Myers appeared relaxed and comfortable as he leaned back in a chair, staring out into a small crowd of reporters and television cameras Wednesday.
After a busy offseason in which the team acquired swingman Andre Iguodala, added depth in the backcourt behind Stephen Curry and signed Jermaine O’Neal to help in the post, Myers can’t help but smile.
The Warriors made it to the Western Conference semifinals last season, and the general manager believes his team is poised to make another deep run into the postseason.
A healthy Andrew Bogut only adds to the optimism. The 7-foot Australian center was limited to 32 games in 2012 while dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle and an assortment of other injuries.
Bogut proclaimed himself completely healthy and was a regular at Golden State’s voluntary workouts, where Myers said the big center looked fine.
“This is the player we envisioned when we traded for him,” Myers said. “He’s the player that, if you follow the NBA, you’d have seen three or four years ago. The thing that’s nice to see with Andrew is his mental game now. He’s just happier.”
The 28-year-old Bogut, who averaged a career-low 5.8 points and 7.7 rebounds last season, has missed 120 games over the past two seasons.
That’s one of the primary reasons the Warriors signed O’Neal in the offseason. The 6-11 veteran center gives coach Mark Jackson some much-needed flexibility in the low post to go with second-year man Festus Ezeli as backups for Bogut.
Myers, however, believes Bogut is ready to be a force in the middle as he was earlier in his with Milwaukee career before fracturing his ankle more than 20 months ago.
“It’s almost like he had an injury or toothache for a year, and all of a sudden it’s gone,” Myers said. “I’m happy for him. He went through a tough road. For him just to be healthy is great for him and great for our team. If you were here the last two or three weeks, he’s got much more of an offensive game than you’ve seen in the past.”
Golden State opens training camp on Saturday, earlier than most NBA teams. That’s because the Warriors are headed to China for a pair of preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Myers, in his second season as Golden State’s general manager, is credited with crafting the blueprint for the team’s turnaround in 2012 when the Warriors made the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.
He was the assistant general manager under Larry Riley when Golden State traded away fan favorite Monta Ellis in the deal to acquire Bogut from the Bucks.
Myers was in another tough position this offseason when he made the decision not to re-sign Jarrett Jack or Carl Landry, both of whom played pivotal roles in the Warriors’ run to the postseason.
The addition of Iguodala, O’Neal and Toney Douglas, Myers believes, helps compensate for the loss of the two and should help the Warriors improve defensively.
“We like the fact that we think we upgraded a little bit defensively,” Myers said. “That’s not taking away anything from Jack and Carl, who were great for us. But we think we have a team that can defend at a high level.”
Golden State’s success last year, coupled with the moves orchestrated by Myers in the offseason, has many looking at the Warriors as a legitimate contender in the West after so many years of being an afterthought.
That’s fine with Myers, who nevertheless remains cautiously optimistic.
“Expectations are new for this organization in some capacity,” he said. “But all of the good organizations have expectations, so it is where you want to be. We’re in a place where we feel like we deserve some of those expectations. If you’re afraid of them you should do something else with your life.”