OAKLAND — As Bob Myers rose from his chair after delivering his news conference on Friday afternoon — preparing to give way for new Golden State Warriors reserve Nick Young — the club’s front office czar offered one final line.
“We’re not calling him Swaggy P,” the team’s president of basketball operations and general manager said. “His name’s Nick Young.”
It was difficult to tell just how serious the Warriors’ sharp-witted exec was being. With a big smile on his face, it sounded like nothing more than a playful jab at the new bench Dub, famous for his outsized personality and sharpshooting ways.
Young, who had just emerged from the offices in the club’s downtown Oakland headquarters where he’d inked his new $5.2 million contract, was never on Myers’ free-agent radar — at least not until he found out Kevin Durant was planning to take a major pay cut.
Eligible for a max contract that would have started at $34.65 million per season, the Bill Russell MVP Award-winner instead settled for a two-year, $53 million pact. Durant laid the foundation for an offseason that has seen the scariest team in basketball become even scarier.
“His gesture of taking less gave us the ability to be very aggressive in pursuing Shaun [Livingston] and Andre [Iguodala],” Myers said. “And I can pretty much unequivocally say without it, we’re not looking at the team we have right now. So what Kevin did shows who he is [and] shows what he’s about and I think it’s clear that’s winning.”
Durant is far from the first Warrior to take less in order to ensure the long term well-being of the franchise.
Iguodala could have done better than the four-year, $48 million agreement that originally brought him to Golden State before the 2013 season, and David West is playing on the veteran’s minimum for the second time in as many seasons.
Then, there’s Stephen Curry, who just cashed in a $201 million, five-year deal, but who never so much as let out a peep while earning a pair of MVPs on his four-year, $44 million contract extension he signed back in 2012.
“That’s how you sustain success,” Myers explained. “You may stumble upon success a few years, but if you want continued success — on a team for many years — it requires those types of things.”
While he wouldn’t share all the details, Myers insisted that Durant made the decision to play for less of his own “volition.”
“For him to do something like that is commendable,” Myers said. “And all we can do as an organization, when given that responsibility and opportunity, is to go take advantage of it and bring back guys like Shaun [and] Andre — add a guy like Nick Young.”
Along with Omri Casspi, who’s still finalizing his one-year, $2.1 million deal, Young provides the Warriors with some much needed scoring punch off the bench.
With Young known for sometimes causing off-the-court distractions during his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors checked in with his old head coach Luke Walton, a former top assistant of Steve Kerr.
“I just think he has fun playing basketball,” Myers said. “But I guess, sometimes, you have to be serious about what you do, but I don’t view what he does as a negative and I think he’ll fit well with what we do.”
Myers compared the signing of Young to last summer’s decision to bring in JaVale McGee, who went on to thrive with the club as a role-player, thrilling the Oracle crowd with his knack for catching lobs and throwing down monster dunks.
A year later, McGee is one of the key players that Myers is tracking as he attempts to put a bow on the offseason. As first reported by Priority Sports, the agency of Zaza Pachulia, the Georgian big man will be back on a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Once Casspi’s contact becomes official, the team will have one roster spot up for grabs. Myers couldn’t guarantee that spot would go to the popular big man.
“I’m not optimistic about anything,” Myers explained. “But I’m hopeful and we’re going to look into that and his representatives and I have been communicating … so, we’ll weigh that with what other options we have.”
Myers knows as well as anyone that the NBA offseason moves fast, twisting and turning in surprise directions, presenting unexpected options like Young. An unexpected option, who, for now, has no plans to ditch the Swaggy P moniker.
“I don’t think I could drop that, you know?” Young said. “The fans like it. They wouldn’t let me. I tried it and they don’t call me Nick anymore more. I think I’m just going to stick with that, but I’m going to find my way through here.”