OAKLAND – When the Warriors were finally able to exhale, when the moment that was never going to happen happened, when Andre Igoudala was finally, officially and unexpectedly introduced Thursday, they really exhaled.
Or fell face first into the pillow. Or looked around to make sure Igoudala really was there, on the roster and in the practice facility after the sign-and-trade that had been completed. The Warriors needed the visual confirmation.
Chasing Igoudala was no ordinary pursuit. It was, said Bob Myers, current general manager and former player agent, somewhere between exhausting and exhilarating, and probably both and everything in between. It was the deal that was never going to happen, until it did.
“This one was the hardest thing I’ve done,” said Myers, who has previously closed complicated deals working both sides of the aisle. “The hardest one. I can’t really explain why.”
Try this: All the Warriors had to do was convince a highly coveted free agent to come, convince him to come for less money than others had offered, find somewhere to dump about $24 million in contracts, wrangle a three-team trade (Jazz being the third team) that would deliver Igoudala while preserving valuable cap flexibility for Golden State through salary cap technicalities. Explaining why is not difficult.
Explaining how, that’s where it gets tricky.
“As free agency went on, I kept having to tell (Rob Pelinka, Igoudala’s agent), ‘Look, Rob. I’ve known you a long time. I can’t promise this is going to happen.’ And then I went through what I was trying to accomplish, but every conversation ended with me saying, ‘Look, I don’t see this getting done.’ And he said, ‘Well, keep me posted. We don’t have to make a decision yet.’
“It’s almost like seeing something within your grasp but you can’t quite get it. It’s sitting out there for you. This is a business where one player can make a huge difference, as you well know, so for us to see a player of Andre’s caliber within striking distance, it was almost tantalizing. But then not having a way to do it and being rebuffed at every turn for days and hours and conversations and feeling like it was hopeless, to actually see it happen, I’m very surprised.
It was obviously the result we coveted and the one we got, but it was a very emotional roller-coaster. The whole process was. And like I said, fully prepared for it not to happen. Expecting it not to happen. Hoping that it would. But in the end, seeing it come to fruition, it was great. It was great for our whole group.”
How many times did Myers think the deal might not happen?
“I think the better question was how many times did I think it actually might. I thought it was dead 25 times. I never thought it was real until it was actually real.”
It became actually real on Wednesday, when Igoudala went from Denver to Oakland, Randy Foye went from Utah to Denver in a sign-and-trade, Kevin Murphy went from Utah to Oakland, and Brandon Rush, Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, unprotected first-round picks in 2014 and ’17, second-rounders in 2016 and ’17 and cash went from Oakland to Utah, and a 2018 second-round selection went from Denver to Utah. Twenty-sixth time’s a charm.
The Warriors, Myers conceded, were never truly serious threats to land Dwight Howard, despite being one of only five teams to meet with Howard. And the chances of a Howard-Igoudala package signing were almost nonexistent.
“I think it was a little bit misrepresented,” Myers said. “I don’t want to get into it too much because he plays for another team, but we always felt like this was the focus, in my opinion, it was Andre. And Dwight’s representatives were pretty forthright. I think it was not as close as people thought.”