Some of those choices are reasonable, well timed and rational, if presumably a bit tough to implement. Some of those choices verge on sacrilegious to your entire span and ethos of the Warriors dynasty. Some could be overdue. Some could be panicky. Some appear cheesy.
I’m simply tossing out a number of choices in a fluid state of affairs. Maybe most of them shall be rendered moot very quickly. Almost definitely, a number of of those potential strikes are too radical and unrealistic to tug off anytime in any respect. Yes, so long as they’ve Stephen Curry enjoying like this, the Warriors all the time have the potential for a fast, mood-enhancing profitable streak, presumably beginning with Friday’s house sport in opposition to the Knicks, adopted by a back-to-back in Houston and New Orleans.
But if there’s one factor we will all decipher from the Warriors’ first 15 video games, it’s that they should take into account all choices proper now, not simply the snug ones. They’ve already performed 18 p.c of the common season and the Warriors have the Twenty seventh-ranked protection within the league. It’s nonetheless early however not that early. Maybe, at 6-9 and a humiliating 0-8 on the street after Wednesday’s loss in Phoenix, the snug choices, particularly, must be fully disregarded.
There are core issues with this roster. When the Warriors had nearly no likelihood in Phoenix even with Curry going for 50 points on solely 28 shot makes an attempt, that sounded an alarm bell for a flashing warning to set off a system-wide countdown. More: The Warriors are the primary defending NBA champion to lose this many street video games in a row to start out a season for the reason that 1998-99 Bulls, who, in fact, spent the earlier offseason watching Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson depart after which buying and selling away Scottie Pippen and plenty of others, together with Steve Kerr.
The Warriors stored all their foundational guys this season. And they’re nonetheless doing this.
Wait, there’s really one other straightforward factor to conclude from the primary 4 weeks of 2022-23: The Warriors are losing the most effective months of Curry’s profession, which isn’t precisely wanting superb runs. Basically, this season he’s both carrying the Warriors to victories (they haven’t gained a sport when Curry’s plus-minus has been decrease than plus-7) or they’ve performed so poorly round him that even his finest effort wasn’t sufficient.
Note: Curry is at present averaging profession highs in factors per sport (32.8), field-goal share (53.1 p.c), rebounds (6.8) and true taking pictures share (70.1 p.c). This from a man who was the first-ever unanimous MVP in 2016.
It’s a flashback to 2020-21, when Curry put up MVP-level numbers however it was solely sufficient to pull the Warriors into the Play-In event after which out once they misplaced each video games. This is wholly completely different than what occurred within the Warriors’ six latest journeys to the finals, together with, in fact, final season’s run by means of the postseason and eventual fourth championship in eight years.
The Warriors nonetheless have a ton of expertise, however they only really feel extra indifferent from each other than they’ve been in years. Back when Kevin Durant was on the brink of go away the Warriors, I wrote that the Warriors were plural and Durant was singular. The dynastic Warriors may all the time lean on one another, carry one another and empower one another — and that created belief all through the roster.
Right now, whether or not it began with Draymond Green’s punching of Jordan Poole in coaching camp or that was only a symptom of the larger generational or stylistic divides, the Warriors at present appear far lower than the sum of their components. They don’t appear particular. They’re simply one other proficient however mediocre workforce that’s good at house and terrible on the street.
It may flip round swiftly. But it could be silly for the Warriors’ entrance workplace to disregard the warning indicators. There need to be choices on the desk. And listed here are a few of them, offered so as of mixed chance, sensibility and/or potential as a sudden repair:
Move Poole into the beginning lineup forward of Klay Thompson
Let me begin with the the explanation why I’m presuming Kerr hasn’t achieved this already: The beginning lineup with Klay in it has been the Warriors’ finest five-man unit this season, a dependable “plus” group; so why mess with that (and Klay’s confidence) if there’s no absolute proof that it could do far more than in all probability mess up Klay’s confidence? Also, once they’ve gone with Poole within the Klay spot with the opposite starters, it has not been as environment friendly: plus-7 web ranking in 31 minutes.
Those are good causes. I’ve agreed with them from final April, when it was clear that Poole nearly all the time performs higher when he’s a starter, to proper about now. Klay means a lot to this workforce and has labored so exhausting to recuperate from his a number of leg accidents, and was so necessary final June, that it probably would really feel like a Kerr betrayal if he even thought of benching Klay. Also, doing it would ship Klay into a fair deeper stoop, and the Warriors nonetheless want him. I simply don’t see a manner they are often title contenders this season until Klay is giving them some actual manufacturing.
However, the Warriors are also lifeless within the water if Klay and Poole are each web negatives, and for the primary 13 video games, they positively have each been net-negative gamers. They each want a spark. They each are hurting the Warriors. There’s one easy option to attempt to jump-start each, or not less than reduce the harm: Just swap their roles, with Poole becoming a member of the beginning lineup and Klay coming in because the sixth man.
I’m not suggesting this simply because Poole scored 36 factors on Monday whereas changing the resting Klay after which went 0-for-5 and scored 2 factors in an extremely passive efficiency on Wednesday in Phoenix with Klay again beginning. But if the Warriors simply get extra assertiveness from Poole with a task swap, that may be sufficient to do it. (Even as a starter, Poole can come again and lead the second unit, as he has the thrice he’s began for Klay this season on the top of back-to-backs.)
When Poole takes 15 or extra photographs this season, the Warriors are 2-3 and Poole is plus-34.
When Poole takes 14 or fewer photographs this season, the Warriors are 4-6 and Poole is minus-98.
And if a task swap, even only a non permanent one, additionally takes among the burden off of Klay to out of the blue rework into his previous self proper at first of video games, that’d be a double bonus.
Who is aware of if both factor will occur. Again, it presumably may make issues worse. But I don’t know the way a lot worse it might probably get than what they’ve been getting from Klay and Poole within the first 15 video games.
What I do know is that Kerr doesn’t need to impose this on Klay. He doesn’t need to make this a punishment or a demotion. The locker room temper in all probability isn’t nice proper now, however it’d be even worse, perhaps the worst of this period, if Klay is fuming over a compelled benching.
But what if Klay volunteered for this? I’m undecided he’d need to, however what if, after 15 video games taking pictures 35.1 p.c at a excessive quantity, Klay both by himself or after some conversations with Kerr, Curry, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala concludes that he ought to ease his foot from the fuel pedal and perhaps embrace a sixth-man position?
Remember, Curry voluntarily remained out of the beginning lineup for the Warriors’ first few video games final postseason whereas he was on a minutes restriction getting back from a late-season foot harm and even stayed as a reserve for an additional one (Game 4) when he didn’t have a restriction. That was principally to ensure Poole was snug. And it was a sign: If Curry can do that, each Warrior can and will have the ability to do it, additionally.
“It’s the essence of who we are. It’s the essence of how we do things,” Curry said back then. “And understanding that … we’ve had plenty of other guys start at points throughout the year. Every season, every situation you find yourself in, you’ve gotta just make the right call in terms of the spirit of winning and giving yourself and your team the best shot at winning.
“Everything should line up to that. And you should be able to handle whatever decisions or whatever role you have to kind of assume based on what the answer to that question is.”
Klay Thompson is in a deep shooting slump, creating a dilemma for the Warriors
Move Poole into the beginning lineup forward of Kevon Looney
Kerr will all the time give some minutes to the small-ball unit, with Draymond at heart and Curry-Poole-Klay as a whip-the-ball-around three-guard offense, so perhaps that’s how Kerr will attempt to get Poole going at first of video games with out having to ship Klay to the bench.
But this group hasn’t been excellent this season — it has a minus-4.5 web ranking in 64 minutes and has been weirdly ineffective offensively, solely a 104.5 offensive ranking. (The beginning lineup has a 127.2 offensive ranking.)
This was presupposed to be the Warriors’ next-generation Death Lineup, however that fizzled when Kerr just about deserted it final postseason as a result of Looney was simply too useful to be on the bench at first and finish of video games. Essentially, if Poole and Klay aren’t completely rolling offensively, their defensive points outweigh the whole lot else. And, not less than for now, Looney has turn out to be a extra necessary participant than Klay.
Try to commerce James Wiseman for a defensive-minded veteran
I wrote about this option earlier this week and I believe because the losses pile up, this may turn out to be, by far, the almost definitely main transfer accessible for the Warriors. Just including a defensive-minded veteran may subtly or not-so-subtly change lots of the dialog concerning the Warriors’ second unit proper now, and the simplest manner for the Warriors to do this could be to dangle Wiseman in a commerce.
Also, let’s emphasize that $12.1 million wage for Wiseman subsequent season. Is he going to be price $90 million or extra (counting luxury-tax penalties) subsequent season, after offering no assist to this point by means of two-plus NBA campaigns? If the Warriors are being real looking, getting out of that Wiseman cost could be nearly as a lot a precedence as no matter they might get again in a deal.
You may perhaps put Jonathan Kuminga into this attainable commerce class, however Kuminga is definitely within the rotation already and is a way more versatile participant than Wiseman. Kuminga would get the Warriors extra in a commerce, however that’s as a result of he’s extra useful and sensible. The Warriors have to hold their useful and sensible younger gamers, not commerce them.
One Wiseman-trade caveat: If JaMychal Green places up a number of extra stone-cold duds like he did Wednesday (1-for-7 taking pictures, together with not less than two botched layups, and 4 fouls in 17 minutes), the Warriors could be rapidly in search of any backup-center options, beginning with Wiseman, who’s at present on a G-League project.
What will the Warriors do with the struggling James Wiseman?
Do nothing and rely on progress from the kids
It’s not loopy to suppose that Kuminga might be a dependable producer by March or April, that Moses Moody will work his manner again into Kerr’s good graces and the rotation (Moody’s disappearance has been one of many mysteries of this season), that Donte DiVincenzo shall be a bedrock for the kids on the second unit and that Iguodala will rematerialize in some unspecified time in the future in a month or two and make the whole lot smoother.
I can agree that not less than one or two of this stuff are prone to occur. But all of them gained’t. And the Warriors would wish nearly all of them to occur — plus a surge from Poole — to really feel excellent about that second unit. If you’re a struggling workforce, you possibly can guess on among the issues understanding among the time, however you possibly can by no means guess on all the issues understanding all on the identical time.
I believe Kuminga is a good guess. I believe the Warriors shall be shocked if Wiseman has a task this season. I believe Moody is a large query mark, simply by the best way Kerr has prevented him. And I believe Poole is a component of an entire different dialog, which we’ve already gone by means of.
Offload JaMychal Green and signal one other veteran large man
Can the Warriors get something for JMG? I’m undecided about that. It’s not like he had a ton of suitors within the offseason, when the Warriors signed him on the veteran’s minimal. And in the event that they reduce JMG to signal any person else (it gained’t be DeMarcus Cousins), that’d add one other $9 million or so (including tax penalties) to the payroll quantity that’s already the very best in NBA historical past.
Try to commerce Poole
This is extraordinarily unlikely as a result of 1) the Warriors nonetheless actually like Poole they usually want 20-somethings on this roster; and a pair of) it’s nearly unattainable as a result of Poole’s rookie-extension deal doesn’t kick in till subsequent season, so the Warriors are extraordinarily restricted in what they will do with him in a commerce this season.
They would possibly see what they will get for Poole in some unspecified time in the future after July, perhaps years from now. He’ll have commerce worth in the event that they need to discover it. But till July, Poole counts as $3.9 million (his wage this season) going out in a commerce however the buying workforce must rely him as about $25 million (the common of this yr’s wage plus the 4 years, $123 million of his new deal). Almost unattainable till subsequent July.
Try to commerce for Kevin Durant
The Warriors thought of it after Durant’s commerce request final summer time, and I’m certain they’ll give it some thought now, if the Nets sign that they’d be keen to deal. The Warriors won’t ever say by no means to Kevin Durant. That is etched within the Chase Center foundations, I believe.
But that is one other cap drawback: Any package deal for Durant would nearly definitely have to incorporate Andrew Wiggins for wage and positional steadiness, and, based on salary-cap skilled Danny Leroux, Wiggins is ineligible to be traded this season due to the brand new extension he signed in October. Also: It’d be fairly slippery to get Wiggins to take a pay reduce on a long-term deal solely to commerce him a number of months later. The Warriors mustn’t do this. And I don’t suppose they may.
If it’s not Wiggins, I assume the Warriors may see if the Nets needed to speak about Draymond + an enormous package deal of children or Klay, however why would the Nets, in a complete rebuild state of affairs, need to discuss Draymond or Klay and their giant salaries?
Note: There are the identical cap boundaries for a possible Warriors pursuit of any participant with a equally excessive wage quantity, together with DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward or anyone else of that description.
After Kyrie Irving’s suspension, what’s next for Kevin Durant and the Nets?
Blow all of it up on the commerce deadline
This is on the backside of this listing for a cause. It’s the least probably factor I may see Bob Myers proposing, Joe Lacob consenting to and Kerr and Curry accepting. They dipped out of competition for a number of years and nonetheless stored their title window open as soon as earlier than, and I actually don’t suppose they will do it once more.
You begin messing round with that stuff an excessive amount of and the window closes perpetually.
However, I’m undecided what the Warriors’ decision-makers shall be considering in the event that they get to February and nonetheless are horrible on protection and nonetheless can’t win on the street. I can guess at one factor: If the Warriors aren’t trying like championship contenders by the commerce deadline, there is no such thing as a manner they are going to be snug with the present $380 million payroll dedication for this season. And there’s no, no, no, no manner Lacob will need to take into account a $450 million-plus dedication going into subsequent season.
The Warriors would’ve in all probability needed to make some deep cuts going into subsequent July, anyway. I’ve gotten some Warriors followers very indignant by saying that Draymond is the likeliest departure, however I don’t suppose anyone within the Warriors’ group (and even Draymond) is disputing this concept very a lot.
Nothing is a lock. Nothing must be determined now. But some issues could be determined in early February. Lacob’s Warriors will all the time go for it in the event that they really feel like they will get one other title, however they’re prolonged to this point financially proper now, any sense that it’s not taking place this yr may result in some very giant selections and pull-backs in February.
They may attempt to commerce Draymond and get little or no future wage in return (they could have to connect one of many latest lottery picks to make the commerce occur), simply go along with the kids remaining plus Curry, Wiggins, Klay and Looney and see the place it will get them. It might be dangerous. Draymond, even in a barely diminished state after the punch, stays very important to the whole lot the Warriors do. But in some unspecified time in the future, this was going to finish.
I’ll level out: The Warriors are at present tied for the sixth-worst document within the league. It actually wouldn’t be out of the query to complete, with a number of semi-tank strikes, with the fourth- or fifth-worst document. Which would give them larger than a ten p.c likelihood to hit the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
This is the least probably choice that Myers, Lacob, Kerr and Curry would select. I certain wouldn’t select it. But I say this now, in mid-November, with expectations that issues will get higher for the Warriors. If that occurs, everyone will snort about this suggestion. But if issues don’t get higher … properly, the nuclear choice will nonetheless be on the desk.
(Photo of Klay Thompson: Christian Petersen / Getty Images)