BOSTON — Barefoot with a bottle of champagne filled with Michelob Ultra, Bob Myers settled down near the TD Garden’s guest bench. That was about an hour after his Warriors clinched their fourth title on parquet. A minute ago, Myers spilled a little beer near the free throw line. Cigar smoke filled the air. The arena has turned into fury.
Gatherings like this become a time for reflection. The conversation turned into a pivotal moment of the climb. Myers focused on last year’s draft. The Warriors have two valuable lottery picks, a veteran star who likes the help of veterans and a coach who doesn’t mind picking up any additional rookies with current assignments in mind. trading? To reach older prospects?
Miles, Joe Lacob and management are teenagers in both selections — Jonathan Cuminga at No. 7 and Moses Moody at No. 14 — that’s the number of teens so far. In the loudest statement yet, despite their financial commitment to Stephen Curry’s appearance, they are also still protecting the future. It’s a commitment to the two timeline plans that define the season. Can they win now, develop now?
“Whoever we pick, we don’t think they’re going to be the reason we won the championship,” Miles told Reuters track and field. “So we thought, let’s just pick the best players on the board. A lot of people want us to trade them for stars. It’s not like ‘I told you so’, but we do think Andrew Wiggins can fill the role “We did it. Not a lot of people did it. But we want to see him play the fourth man role.”
The day after the draft, in an introductory news conference with Cuminga and Moody, Lacob — in an interview with the athlete– Against the idea that by using draft picks rather than trading them, the Warriors are sacrificing Curry’s best chance of winning one last championship. His belief is that the current lineup is enough to win it.
“If we can’t do it, then you should look at Joela Cobb, Bob Myers, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins and say you’re not good enough,” La Cobb said at the time. “You pay that much, but you’re not good enough. They need to be good enough, and they should be. They’ve won before. They’re a little old, but they’re still real OK Clay will be back. That’s the key. I think we’ll be good enough. Yes. “
In the Celtics’ late-night gloom — absorbing the full impact of Thompson’s return, the emergence of Jordan Poole and the rise of Wiggins and the combined brilliance of Curry’s offense and Green’s defense — it’s easier to look back and plan a path. But when Lacob touted that confidence last July, it was an unpopular view.
The biggest believers let the Warriors finish in the middle of the conference, a fading semi-threat. Their biggest skeptic kept them out of the playoffs.
“They were suspected,” Lacob, whose dress shirt was soaked with champagne, told sports“But these guys are under 40. We believe in this core. Not many teams have a core four. A lot of people say a core three. I say a core four. The team. I know there are people who think we can do more and get another star. But who are we looking for? Who is available to make a difference? We think no, we really want these young people to develop And learn from these people. They’ve learned. We’re going to be better for it in the next few years.”
In retrospect, Wiggins was the key to the success of the Win Now, Grow Now program. The 27-year-old is a bridge between two eras. Curry, Thompson and Green need a fourth impactful playoff player to get back to the top. The thinking is that Wiggins’ salary is asset-linked and could be used as a tool to acquire a fourth player.But the inner belief is that Wiggins can become that player.
“Of course,” Lacob said. “I’ve said that from day one and Steve Kerr has said the same. He’s a typical winger who just plays for a not so good team and doesn’t get the best culture. We think If you put him in our situation, he’d be great. He doesn’t have to be 1A. You’ve seen him in these playoffs. He’s really, really great.”
Wiggins averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in 22 playoff games. He was the mainstay of the defense against Luka Doncic in the Western Conference Finals and against Jayson Tatum in the Finals, both of which had the least efficient series. He had big scoring nights in big moments. He slammed a playoff dunk on Doncic. He had 35 rebounds in three games over the Celtics. He’s a two-way force worth every penny of his biggest deal.
“I’m so proud of you,” Lacob told Wiggins as he walked past Wiggins in the busy postgame scene, with a Canadian flag draped over Wiggins’ shoulders.
Wiggins’ contract is a symbol of the Warriors’ excess salary. They will always spend money on Curry, Thompson and Green. The D’Angelo Russell-turned-Wiggins sign-and-trade cap was an option for management to preserve cap space despite the punitive tax penalty as they believe they will eventually get back to the top.
“We’ve been evaluating,” Lacob said. “If we didn’t think we had a chance to win, we wouldn’t spend that much money on the lineup. When you do think you have a chance to go further and fight for the title, our belief is that we’re going to give our best and use up the last A dollar. I guess a lot of teams can’t or won’t do that. We have a lot of revenue. Our business side is really good. We generate revenue at a high rate so we can spend a little more. No doubt. But If we don’t think we have a chance to win, we won’t do it.”
Did the Warriors get another championship with a purchase?
“Oh, come on,” Lacob said. “That was a joke; I thought it was ridiculous. All of our players were players we drafted or minimally signed except for one (Wiggins) trade. One trade, no free agency above the minimum. What do you do? Can you say we bought the title? That’s crazy.”
But there are some clear examples where Lacob’s willingness to spend really sets him apart from most other owners and gives the Warriors a competitive edge. Check out their 15th man.
Gary Payton II played 203 playoff minutes, which would at least double if he didn’t break his elbow on the run. The Warriors had 49 points on the field. He became a major defensive threat and cutting scorer. In most other cases, he wouldn’t financially fit into such an expensive roster.
“GP was the 15th guy and cost us $12 million,” Myers said. “That’s a debate. A lot of owners will never do it. We came into training camp saying we’re not going to sign a 15th player. That’s $12 million. We don’t. It’s not a minimum contract. But Gary is fine. “We went to Joe and said it’s going to cost us $12 million. He thinks we keep 14. It’s some small decisions. We’re trying to win a championship. We have a payroll that says it. You can’t have that. Payroll, not in that headline conversation. We want to see if we’re going to be beat. Maybe we’re going to be beat. But we want to use our resources to go all-in financially.”
The Warriors were partying at a restaurant near TD Garden until Friday morning. They will fly back to the Bay Area around 11 am local time. The parade will be held in San Francisco on Monday. Curry, Thompson and Green will get a taste of the title over the next few weeks.
But for Miles, Lacob and the front office, it quickly went back to square one. The draft is Thursday. Free agency came a week later. The Warriors have the 28th overall pick, and then a couple of key roster decisions about their veterans. Payton and Kevin Looney are unrestricted free agents who just played their part in a bigger payday. Poole became eligible for extension. Green and Wiggins may come to ask the veteran to re-sign.
“We don’t know what the market for our people is going to be,” Myers said. “We’ll try to keep the team together. It’s a good balance of young, old and middle. There’s no one we don’t like. So, we’ll try.”
“You have to see what we did,” Lacob added. “We got the draft and free agency. After a lot of discussions over the next few weeks, we’re going to build our team for next year. Obviously, we’ve got a good idea of what we’re going to do. We have a great roster. I don’t expect too many. Variety.”
The playoffs, which included 12 games at the Chase Center, reopened the financial floodgates that helped the Warriors pay for their lineup. This should help preserve this core. But regardless of everything reconfigured, Miles and Lacob may have earned a fourth title and the extra credit for the decision that led to it.
“Thankfully, in our market, people are crazy about our team,” Myers said. “We won this game, but there are 10 games left next season and if it doesn’t go well, they’re going to play against us. I’m lucky to work for a team that people care so much about, but we have to do what we think is right things, even in the face of people’s speculation. We didn’t get everything right, but this time it worked.”
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(Photo by Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber: Kyle Terada/USA Today)