Likely Warriors GM Successor Mike Dunleavy Jr. Gets Some Warnings: ‘Good Luck’

Mike Dunleavy Jr., former Warriors star, could be the team's next GM.

Getty Mike Dunleavy Jr., former Warriors star, could be the team's next GM.

For the Warriors, by the time the departure of team president and general manager Bob Myers became official, it had already become well-known that he would be taking his leave of the team after having helped to build a dynasty over the past dozen years.

Myers stepped down from the job on Wednesday, announcing that he was leaving in a cordial and at times wistful press conference alongside owner Joe Lacob. It’s a blow for the Warriors because Myers has done a skillful job over the years of buffering potential conflict between the locker room on one side and the owners’ suites on the other.

“I’ve only known how to do things one way my whole life,” Myers said at his press conference. “It doesn’t feel right to do something when I can’t give it everything. And that’s what it takes to do what we’ve done over the last, for me, 12 years.”

The Warriors now are likely to turn to former star Mike Dunleavy, the team’s No. 3 pick in the 2002 draft. Dunleavy has been with the team for four years as Myers’ assistant and has taken an increasingly prominent role in dealing with teams around the league. Lacob’s son, Kirk, is also in the mix, though the top ranks of the organization are aware of the poor optics of having the owner’s son in the GM’s chair.

That means Dunleavy could well be the guy.

“Yeah, if you wanted to talk about what they might need or whatever it might be, you were more likely to talk to Mike first than you were with Bob,” one NBA GM told Heavy Sports. “That just kind of evolved that way.”

A Good Time for Bob Myers to Leave

Myers likely picked a good time to leave because, inevitably, whatever comes next for the Warriors is likely to be difficult. If Dunleavy takes the job, he will have numerous needles that need threading on a blossoming payroll sheet.

Steph Curry is still a star player, and will no doubt finish his career with the Warriors. Draymond Green can opt out of his contract this summer, but is likely to opt in and return for next season, before becoming a free agent in 2024.

Klay Thompson, too, can be a free agent after next season and is eligible for an extension this summer. At 33 years old, Thompson had a solid regular season (21.9 points, 43.6% shooting, 41.2% 3-point shooting) but struggled in the playoffs, shooting 38.8% from the field and 36.8% from the 3-point line.

The Warriors are also beginning a four-year extension worth $120 million with Jordan Poole this season, and Poole appeared to have his confidence entirely shaken in the playoffs—he averaged 10.3 points, shot 34.1% from the field and 25.4% from the 3-point line.

“Lacob is a hands-on guy, he is involved with the team and with decisions, he does not just show up at games and take a limo home,” one league executive told Heavy Sports. “But they’ve got Steve Kerr as the coach, and he has been a championship player, he has been a GM (with the Suns), he has been with Team USA, he has been a broadcaster. Steve’s quiet but he has strong opinions.

“And we know about the players in that locker room over the years. Draymond, obviously, is the loudest. But Steph understands the power he has, even if he does not shout about it. They have Andre Iguodala, who is outspoken. Klay (Thompson) is a unique guy but he has his own wants and all of that. That is a lot of egos to manage and Bob has always been the guy in the middle. There were times you talk to him and you can tell he’s exhausted. It was a great job for a while there but it has been a tough job for the last few years.”

Advice for Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Consider that a note of caution for Dunleavy, if he is the successor. Consider, too, that the job of running the Warriors will get harder as a new, more restrictive CBA comes into play, one aimed at reining in and punishing free-spending luxury tax teams like the Warriors.

But consider, too, that Dunleavy has been riding shotgun with Myers for the past four years, and knows well what he is getting into. While Myers brought some wisdom from his time as a prominent NBA agent to the job in 2011, Dunleavy brings the wisdom of a former player whose father was also a star player, a coach and a GM.

“I think most people, if you’re a young executive in this game and you’re trying to go up the ranks, I would be worried about taking that Warriors job because it is like you are taking over the empire right as it is beginning to crumble,” the GM said. “But Mike has the experience and the temperament. He is going to have to make some really tough decisions, and that is a tough way to come into this kind of job. First year and the to-do list is re-sign Klay, figure out what to do with Draymond and figure out whether all your young guys are worth keeping.

“He’s got to try to stay ahead of the game.”

There’s the added pressure of buffering between the front office and the players, while keeping the coaching staff happy, all in one of the most publicly visible jobs in the NBA. That’s a tough job.

“I would not have any advice for him,” the executive said. “Other than to say, ‘Good luck,’ which is not really advice but you get the picture.”


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