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OAKLAND

Last Saturday, Bob Myers went to San Quentin to play hoops with the inmates. When word spread he's the general manager of the Warriors, the inmates started telling him how to fix the team. One guy yelled, "What's the plan?"

"The plan is to stop losing," Myers shot back.

The inmates, a hard crowd, liked that. If a guy goes over big in San Quentin, he has a chance of impressing the NBA.

I interviewed Myers in his office at the Warriors facility. He grew up in Alamo and was a walk-on at UCLA in the mid-1990s until he got a scholarship. He never played much until his junior year. Before that, he would play only if the game was out of reach. But his junior year, in the first half against Oregon, coach Jim Harrick looked down the bench and said, "Myers." Myers felt he was being called out for doing something inappropriate. He'd never played in the first half. Harrick told him to get in the game.

As he rose to his feet, Myers felt his heart blowing through his jersey. He scored four points, but the next game against Oregon State he scored 20. After that he was part of the regular rotation. For him, this story is about never giving up and sustaining a dream. Myers applies the same criteria to the Warriors, another long shot with possibilities.

After college, he went to law school and then became an agent. He joined the Warriors in April 2011 as assistant GM and was promoted to GM this April. What are his qualifications for guiding the Warriors?

"There's 30 general managers," he said. "There's 10 to 15 high-level agents. There's 400 players. It's about 500 people — not a lot. One skill set is the relationships I have. When I'm negotiating with an agent, I can relate to being in that chair. I'm blessed to have Jerry West. I'm secure enough to ask for help. If it pertains to playing in the NBA, I will not pretend I did. I will seek out people who did. I don't always have to be right. Having to be right puts you in a difficult position to make decisions. Nobody is right all the time."

I asked Myers what he's looking for June 28 in the draft.

"To simplify it, we want players that help us win. It doesn't mean it has to be a big guy. It doesn't mean it has to be a 3 (small forward), which everybody feels is the biggest need for us. It means a piece that helps us win."

So, is he drafting for need?

"No. The more assets you have, the more flexibility you have to change your roster. You can draft by position, but if that player isn't coveted by the rest of the league, he's not going to be doing a great job for you, either. You can draft a player at a position that you have a starter at, but if that player behind your starter turns out very good, you're going to get a lot of phone calls on that player. You're going to have options. Do you want to keep that player in a bench role or do you want to change him to a different position or do you want to trade the player in front of him? There's all kinds of scenarios if you have assets. That's a term I picked up from Jerry West. He said, &‘The name of the game is assets.'"

Are the Warriors low in assets?

"We're better than we were a year ago, but we're not where we need to be."

Let me pause and point out the obvious. Myers is open and forthright. I could ask anything and he would take a run at it. So, I asked if he might package any of his four draft picks.

"It will be possible. Will it be appropriate, advisable or correct? I don't know. If we had seen a deal we loved, we would have done it. Most of the good things don't come until the deadline approaches, June 26, 27, 28. By having four picks, it will allow teams to see what we have and covet it and give us a call. I can't promise that will happen but, if we see something we like, we'll do it."

Is any Warriors player a superstar?

"On this roster, there's not a lot of playoff experience. You need to judge a player by how he performs in the playoffs. The playoffs, it's a different game. In the regular season, the better teams maybe wait until the fourth quarter to really lock in. In the playoffs, it's a possession-by-possession game. You don't see a lot of easy layups or gimme baskets. In the playoffs, certain players rise up and when the pressure's on, others struggle. We have potential on this roster. I want to see how our players perform in the playoffs."

When will the Warriors get to the playoffs?

"If I say &‘We're competing for a championship,' it's not met with seriousness. You cannot ensure success, but you can deserve it and for this team I want them to deserve it."

He meant getting to the playoffs will take the appropriate amount of time, whatever that is. It was a fair and realistic answer.

I bet the experts at San Quentin would agree.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.