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New assistant GM Mike Dunleavy played key role in D’Angelo Russell acquisition

D'Angelo Russell, Warriors

Former Golden State Warriors player and newly-named assistant general manager Mike Dunleavy played a significant role in the acquisition of D’Angelo Russell.

President Bob Myers was acutely aware that a sign-and-trade deal for Russell’s expiring contract could be a workable transaction, but he first needed to know if Russell was a player worth the trouble. Dunleavy at the time lived closer to the Barclays Center than the famed Madison Square Garden, allowing him to watch Russell up close as a regional scout.

“I didn’t see D’Angelo Russell play live 10, 20 times (like Mike),” Myers told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “There’s never been more information available, whether it’s analytics, your ability to watch tape, see games, dig into numbers. But I don’t think any of it is a substitute for actually going to a game in person, talking to coaches and watching the whole day develop, from when the player gets there to warm up, the stuff fans don’t see, interacting on a closer level, how they act when they get subbed out, how they react to winning and losing.”

When it came time to pull the trigger, Dunleavy was among the front office people whose opinion counted.

“When we were faced with that short window of time, we certainly asked him,” Myers said. “He gave a rundown of where he thought he improved, his strengths, potential weaknesses, fit, all that.”

“I think it was maybe 1 or 2 in the morning when I looked at him, like, ‘You sure you want to do this? Because at that moment in time, we were deep. It was a scramble. The ground kept shifting. Which happens. That’s just how free agency goes. You’re trying to hold so many different scenarios in your head and mind. It all comes down to your relationships and your trust, because none of these things are formalized. … But he looked at me with that alacrity in his eyes: Absolutely. I think it drew him more into it than pushed him away.”

Trading Kevin Durant for Russell would be an uneven deal in any other occasion, but doing so by means of rescuing something in return for such a huge loss was a major win for the front office, and for Dunleavy, who embarked in this new area of his post-basketball playing career.