OAKLAND — Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers believes he has done all he could to improve the roster with the moves he made â€” and didn't make â€” this summer.
Myers' main concern is no longer the talent on the team. Instead, it's how healthy that talent can remain through the grind of the NBA's 82-game season.
Myers gave Golden State fans good news on that front Tuesday, saying the franchise's core players â€” Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and, perhaps most notably, Andrew Bogut â€” are all healthy heading into training camp next week. New backup guard Shaun Livingston will likely miss all of camp recovering from toe surgery, Myers said, though he could be ready by the end of the preseason.
Expectations are still as high as ever in the basketball-united Bay Area.
The Warriors are coming off a 51-win season and back-to-back playoff appearances, and owner Joe Lacob's decision to fire coach Mark Jackson and replace him with Steve Kerr this summer sent the message that the he wants to win a championship â€” and win a championship now.
Myers said the team is embracing those goals.
“It's good to have expectations, because the alternative is nobody thinks you're any good and you're trying to prove to everybody that you are,” he said. “But I think what's key and what's maybe turned with this team a couple years ago and having been in the playoffs for a couple years is the players actually believe they belong.
“And that's important, because it used to be with this organization, it used to be a close game, and five, six years ago the mindset was, 'Well, we're not going to win. We just don't win.' And then it became, 'Well, we might win. We might win this game.' And now I hope as we enter into games, every game we feel like we should win. It's a mindset switch. I don't think our players are afraid of the expectations.”
Even still, Myers said expectations are difficult to set now because injuries have had such a huge impact on the team's performance the past two seasons.
Iguodala, Lee and Bogut sat out for long stretches last season, but the biggest blow came when Bogut â€” who missed 50 games during the 2012-13 season â€” fractured a rib on his right side just before the playoffs. The Warriors still showed a lot of fight without their big man, pushing the third-seeded Los Angeles Clippers to seven games before losing the opening-round series.
“At the end of the year, what you have to look at is how healthy were we? How hard did everybody work? What did we do to deserve success?” Myers said. “Sometimes you can do everything right and things just don't go your way. And sometimes things fall into your lap you don't deserve.
“So at the end of the year, I'm hoping that as an organization we can say we put it all out there, everybody did their jobs and everybody worked hard to achieve success. And I do think we have the talent to achieve some things, but it's hard.”
Myers said keeping the team's talented young nucleus intact and overhauling the reserves were the biggest achievements this offseason.
The additions included Livingston, Brandon Rush and Leandro Barbosa. The Warriors decided not to bring back guards Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford, and free agent center Jermaine O'Neal is still deciding whether to return for a 19th season â€” a decision Myers said could come before the team begins training camp Sept. 30.
The Warriors jumped into the trade talks for Kevin Love this summer, but they refused to include Thompson in the deal, and Minnesota ultimately moved Love to Cleveland. Myers has stood by that decision, believing all along that Curry, Thompson and Co. could carry the Warriors to a title.
Golden State is certainly set up for several more playoff runs behind that core, which also includes reserves Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, and Myers is banking on that young talent to mature even more this season.
“Organic growth,” Myers said, “is the easiest way to get better.”