Inside the trade that brought Andrew Wiggins to the Golden State and the shocking decisions it could make on the Warriors

Series The deals that helped the Golden State Warriors prolong their run at the top of the NBA — a topic that dates back to then. Kevin Durant And he spins forward indefinitely—starting with what he promised would be an uncomfortable exit interview.

Days after a crushing defeat in the NBA Finals that seemed to bury the Warriors dynasty under the brunt of injuries, Bob Myers, the team’s chief of basketball operations, sat down with Andre Iguodala.

Myers looked at Iguodala and offered up a harsh reality: “We might have to trade you in,” Myers says.

Like any serious organization, the Warriors after the 2019 Finals have been preparing for Durant’s possible departure in free agency — perhaps to the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets. In in-house spitballing sessions, they hit up signing and trading options, hoping to turn Durant’s roster — should he ever leave — into a young veteran who might help them move through the ages.

Prepare as quietly as they can. They wanted Durant to stay. Nicks had nothing of interest. But the brave Nets had an outgoing free agent with some positive aspects: D’Angelo Russell. If Durant left, might the Warriors be able to convince him—and the Nets, Russell, and Russell clients—to agree to a double-signature deal and trade?

This would subject the warriors to strict mantle, forcing them to forgo a great contract: the Iguodala contract. In the exit interview, Myers prepared for Iguodala’s reaction.

“I remember him looking at me like ‘I understand,’” Myers recalls. “He wasn’t like, ‘Fuck you.’ He was as professional as you can get. He’s very smart, and he wasn’t shocked by it.”

As reported by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Myers met with Durant and Rich Kleiman, Durant’s business partner, after Durant made his decision in the early hours of the free agency to try to convince them of the double-signal and trade. Durant and Myers are close. As Shelburne mentioned, Durant did not like the idea of ​​trading. The net had no incentive to aid the warriors; They could have signed Durant on the spot. But Myers emphasized that the dual arrangement of signing and trading could help both franchises; Durant could leave a player behind, and the Networks could get an extra draft of their issues.

They eventually agreed to a double-sign-and-trade deal that sent the Top 20 Reserves in the first round in 2020 to Brooklyn. The Warriors sank so far the following season, and the pick was never moved; Instead, the Nets will have a 2025-second rounded.

When news of the potential deal broke, Russell and one of his clients were on a helicopter ride over Los Angeles with Gerson Rosas—the head of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves—as part of wooing Russell from the Wolves. Sources in the wolves suspected that the warriors were getting close to something with Russell. Sources said they wanted to delve into full enlistment anyway, knowing that Warriors might turn Russell later.

Sources said Rosas left a car for Aaron Mintz, one of Russell’s main agents, at the Creative Artists Agency’s Los Angeles headquarters. The car was a test: If Mintz offered to tour the chopper, the wolves were in the game. Mintz did not appear, although he had free other agency meetings that day, sources say.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr was vacationing in Hawaii while Golden State looked for teams with room to take Iguodala’s contract. Kerr only checked his phone occasionally. When Myers struck a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, he called Kerr. No answer. Myers was forced to implement.

When Kerr got his phone back, he saw a text from Myers explaining the trade — which sent Iguodala and four times in the 2024 protected first round to Memphis.

“I was crushed,” Kerr says. “Like, oh my God, I can’t believe we’re losing a piece of our soul.”

Called Ker Iguodala. “He said something like, ‘Sorry, Coach, I’m not surprised,'” Kerr recalls. “Maybe he knew he’d come before I did.”

Kerr’s notification wasn’t the most difficult post-trade conversation Myers has had. “The hardest was when I called [Stephen Curry]Myers says. they are friends. Steve knows what Andre means to the team. There is a level of respect. You see how publicly and privately Andrei supports Steve. Steve knows that.”

Carey digested the news as Myers spoke.

“Steve is never too demanding,” Myers says. “He wants to understand, and he deserves it. I had to make it clear, we need to give ourselves options, and if we don’t, we don’t have much. I’ve been with Steve for seven or eight years, so there is confidence.”

The Warriors knew Russell might prove awkwardly suitable alongside Carrie and inside the Warriors’ moving attack. Can Warriors Survive Defense with Russell Carey-Klay Thompson Trio once Thompson returned from a torn ACL?

Perhaps the safest route was to let Durant walk; Keeping Iguodala and both from the first round that got out; And fill the list with the exception of the middle level. Golden State vetted this track and asked one tough question, sources say: How to make us an influential player who might be willing to help Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green thus?

Russell may not have been that player, but he was 23 years old and up. With Thompson out, the Warriors needed a veteran to enjoy the minutes. Minnesota’s interest in Russell will not be drained. Sources say Golden State believes the Knicks may have an interest, too.

‘Which – which [Iguodala] The trade was a great example of why a coach shouldn’t be the general manager,” says Kerr. If I were in charge, I wouldn’t have done the deal, and we wouldn’t be sitting here with Andrew Wiggins And the [Jonathan] cuminga. “

Russell to Minnesota The grumbling never stopped after the Warriors dealt with Russell.

“Rumors spread, even around that summer [of 2019]”I was ready for anything,” Wiggins recalls.

Curry broke his hand in the Warriors’ third game of the 2019-20 season, joining Thompson on the injury list. The Golden State was from 5 to 24 with Christmas approaching. After 3-0 start that resulted in some Braggadocio is premature on social mediaWolves collapsed – entered January with a record high of 12-20.

Inwardly, they started to worry Cities of Karl Anthony Sources say discontent is growing. Towns had several years left on his contract, but the stars were capitalizing on earlier and earlier exits. In five seasons, Towns and Wiggins have accomplished little at the team level – except for 74 games Jimmy Butler Which produced one playoff win and ended with a fiery melodrama, that inspired an entire episode of “Game of Zones.” Towns and Russell were close friends who had an open interest in playing together.

The Wolves tried everything to get to Wiggins – to take advantage of the sharpness that seemed hot when Wiggins faced a team he was trading with. Tensions exploded on January 22 in the Chicago Bulls. Wolves allowed players to bring their husbands and girlfriends on the road trip, an unusual concession that Wiggins (among others) paid for, sources say. Perhaps, the wolves hoped that his family would inspire him.

In the break, Wiggins was 1 of 4 with four turnovers. Ryan Saunders, then Wolves coach and a staunch supporter of Wiggins, shouted at Wiggins in the locker room.