Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers spoke with the media Monday and discussed topics ranging from the sign-and-trade that brought D'Angelo Russell to the Bay Area to the injury status on Klay Thompson and the loss of Kevin Durant this offseason.
On Russell, Myers noted he acquired the All-Star with the intention of keeping him despite rumors Russell could be flipped as a trade asset during the season:
He also told reporters that he was planning on visiting Thompson in Los Angeles as the sharpshooter recovers from ACL surgery, per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.
And finally, he noted that he was sad to see Durant leave the organization this summer:
Myers noted that the breakup was amicable but was difficult nonetheless.
"To be honest, I was kinda sad," he said. "Because I like [Durant]. The other thing is, I love basketball. And so, just to watch him play was a treat for me. Just to watch him practice. To watch him work out. ... I'll miss that. I will, just as a basketball fan, because guys like him don't come along too often. His skill set, his ability, is so unique."
In the mad scramble of this summer's offseason, the Warriors have become something of a forgotten team. Everyone has seemed to focus on the two Los Angeles squads loading up, Russell Westbrook's exit from Oklahoma City to join James Harden in Houston and the large number of teams that appear to have legitimate title chances this year.
Part of that is because of Thompson's ACL tear and the uncertainty over both when he'll return and how he'll fare coming off such a serious injury. There's little doubt that the Warriors would be one of the favorites for the title if Thompson was starting the 2019-20 season healthy.
But Russell's fit is the other major question. A backcourt of Russell and Curry should work on the offensive end given the ability of both players to function off the ball if needed. In particular, Curry should have little issue playing off the ball more regularly, allowing him to run around screens and get open looks as a spot-up shooter.
The Warriors added Durant's isolation ability into their free-flowing offense. Head coach Steve Kerr will find a way to incorporate Russell's proficiency in the pick-and-roll as well.
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The defensive end will be the bigger issue. The Warriors have been an excellent defensive team during their run to three titles and five consecutive NBA Finals appearances, in part because they could hide Curry against weaker offensive players in the postseason while Thompson handled the dangerous backcourt threats. But Russell is a weak defender as well, meaning opposing guards won't receive much resistance.
And even when Thompson returns, will the Warriors start all three of Curry, Russell and Thompson? It's hard to imagine any of those players coming off the bench, but the defensive issues in that backcourt will persist with all three in the starting lineup.
Add it all up, and it isn't hard to see why Russell is a player who could get shopped before the February trade deadline. That doesn't mean the addition of Russell was a bad move, however.
"I don't know what the fit's going to be like, but they got something back that has value that they can trade down the line," a general manager told Ethan Strauss of The Athletic at the Las Vegas Summer League.
Durant's departure may have been sad for Myers and the Warriors, but losing him without getting anything back would have been devastating.