Update Post: November 28, 2023 10:20 pm
Golden State, once officially the greatest team in basketball history, has been going through something of a crisis for some time now. The crisis began more than a year ago, when one of the Warriors’ leaders and veteran, Draymond Green, punched rising star Jordan Poole in the face in front of the entire team during a training session. With this hit, Green got not only a new contract worth $100 million, but also a ticket for the young player directly to Washington.
Golden State entered the new season not only with certain questions hanging over the team like a big dark cloud, but also with the highest luxury tax in the league. “Championship” has prepared material on how it came to this and what the Warriors management should do to avoid collapse.
Stephen Curry (left) and André Iguodala
Photo: MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images
The Golden State era of the best Stephen Curry can be divided into five phases:
first championship and 73-9; period with Kevin Durant; departure of KD, injuries to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, second pick in the draft; championship despite; “The Last Dance” with Chris Paul.
No matter what anyone says, Golden State has been the top team for the last nine years. Any event related to the Warriors immediately attracts not only fans of the team, but also haters. The San Francisco team steals the show in all the news, from players’ career highs to high-profile transfers. And even now, ordinary people don’t talk about LeBron James’ potential 40,000 points or Nikola Jokic’s third MVP and second championship, but about the “warriors” and how their era will end. Spoiler: de facto it should have ended in 2019, but, contrary to logic, it was revived in 2022.
Let’s refresh our memory
Klay Thompson injured in the 2019 NBA Finals
Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
In 2019, Klay Thompson landed extremely poorly in the NBA Finals against Toronto and suffered a torn cruciate ligament in his left knee that kept him out for a long time. After that, Kevin Durant left the team and Steve Kerr only had Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and a group of anonymous people at his disposal. Yes, D’Angelo Russell started that season with the team, but at the deadline he was traded for Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota.
The Warriors needed to change something to stay on top after losing two leaders. However, this doubt evaporated after the fourth game of the regular season, when Stephen Curry broke his hand and was out until March. Then the season was interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Golden State didn’t really notice, as they still didn’t fight for the playoffs and ultimately finished the championship in last place in the Western Conference standings. The Warriors subsequently received the second pick in the next draft, selecting James Wiseman.
Before the 2020-2021 season, the team was looking forward to the return of Klay Thompson, and he was closer than ever to it, but at the last moment he suffered a relapse, so he would subsequently miss a second season in a row. . However, Stephen Curry was still in action and did not plan to fight for a high draft pick for the second consecutive season. The boss had one of the best seasons of his career and could even be named MVP of the regular season, but there was such a gap between the team’s starting five and the team’s bench that Curry’s efforts were not enough to reach the playoffs.
The Warriors finished eighth in the West, but lost in the play-in to the Lakers and then to Memphis in overtime. At the time it seemed like this was truly the ceiling for Golden State, and even Klay Thompson’s return after two serious injuries and a two-season layoff wouldn’t help at all.
Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images
At the start of the 2021/2022 season, nothing serious was expected from the Warriors. Klay Thompson’s return was delayed, Curry and Green weren’t getting any younger, Andrew Wiggins hadn’t yet had time to fully integrate into the team’s system, and the gap between the units hadn’t disappeared.
Stephen Curry entered that championship primarily to break Ray Allen’s all-time record for most three-pointers and become the greatest shooter in basketball history. There was no talk of returning the team to leadership positions.
However, against all odds, the Warriors started the season strong with an 18-2 record. Curry shined again, Green continued to be effective on both ends of the court and Andrew Wiggins became an indispensable part of the system. But there is another player who improved terribly that year and essentially replaced Klay Thompson: Jordan Poole. Thompson returned in January 2022, two and a half years later, but he was and remains a shadow of his better self.
Golden State gained momentum just in time for the playoffs, which they entered from third place in the West. In the first three rounds, the “warriors” swept Denver, Memphis and Dallas, and in the final they beat the lively Boston.
Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Obviously, this was the most difficult and valuable championship for the entire franchise and for Stephen Curry personally. He felt like the Warriors’ No. 30 was like wine: It gets better with age. The boss, then and now, simply does not realize his age and remains mega-effective against the background of young rivals.
In the summer, there was a feeling that the 2022/2023 season for Golden State should not be worse, and the team’s starting lineup is almost one of the best in the league in terms of consistency and teamwork. However, the same hit by Draymond Green in the face of Jordan Poole even before the start of the season, mentioned at the beginning, ruined everything, the “chemistry” of the team sank sharply.
Green and Poole ignored each other on the court as much as they could, Klay was no longer playing the leader role, and Curry simply couldn’t physically carry both offense and defense. Additionally, the Warriors front office was short-handed on the roster during the offseason, and the team entered the season with the weakest bench of the entire dynasty. The result is a mediocre performance by Jordan Poole after a brilliant season, maneuvering between the playoffs and play-in zone, a difficult seven-game series with Sacramento and an almost characterless elimination of the Lakers in the second round.
At the edge of collapse
Draymond Green (right) and Jordan Poole
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
All this became a snowball whose collapse could not be avoided. The first victim of all these comings and goings was general director Bob Myers, who decided to leave his position after 11 years of work. He was the one who drafted Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, traded Kevin Durant, and assembled the team before each championship.
Of course, the true reasons for his departure have not been indicated. However, there were rumors on the sidelines that the reason was disagreements with team owner Joe Lacob over future actions. According to unofficial data from Western media, Myers advocated keeping Jordan Poole on the roster, despite the conflict with Draymond Green. It was also considered not to renew Klay Thompson’s contract for obvious reasons. However, the owner of the franchise had the opposite opinion and Myers decided not to go against his will.
As a result, Myers was replaced by Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the first thing he did, on Lacob’s orders, was get rid of Jordan Poole, swapping him for the injured 38-year-old Chris Paul. There is little logic in this decision; The task was simply to keep Draymond Green, extend him for three years, and part with Poole even for a sack of potatoes, which, in fact, happened. At the same time, the board once again turned a blind eye to the problem of a weak bench, apparently believing that Stephen Curry is eternal.
Some people really believe that this gang with Chris Paul can compete for the championship by organizing a kind of “Last Dance”, but if we put aside all the sympathy for both Paul and Golden State, we can understand that this is unrealistic in such a situation . situation: -the truly “wild” West.
Is there any solution?
Chris Paul and Klay Thompson
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Does Golden State have a chance of getting out of this trap? There are always opportunities, but not everyone wants to take advantage of them. It’s hard to say if the Warriors will have another championship window, but to at least stay within it, some important and precise decisions need to be made.
First of all, of course, you shouldn’t give Klay Thompson the big money he was hoping for. Now the situation is extreme and it is not yet clear in which direction the pendulum will swing. Of course, there is a high probability that Golden State will extend his contract for approximately $30 million to $35 million per year. Yes, it will be a beautiful story when an important part of the franchise ends its run. But in this case, you can really forget about any perspective and watch the play of a play-in level team until the end of Thompson and Curry’s careers.
Ideally, we need to transform Chris Paul, who can still move, into at least something, and this needs to be done as soon as possible. Yes, he has a lenient contract, which does not significantly worsen the already rubber payroll of the “warriors”, but why wait for a 38-year-old player to turn to stone in a moment?
Draymond Green – our selection:
Draymond has been sent off the court again! We compile the most difficult moments of Green’s career.
Obviously the generational change in the Warriors is very close, and it would be good to prepare in advance so that it goes without setbacks. But Golden State’s management is definitely not thinking about this and is parting with young assets left and right, setting up a retirement home on the roster.
Overall, the Warriors can consider trading absolutely every player except Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Including Andrew Wiggins, who has regressed severely this season.
However, these are just some of the options, and it is far from a given that the Golden State front office will resort to them. There is a high probability that none of the above scenarios will happen: Chris Paul will remain on the team or leave for free, Klay Thompson will sign a contract for a huge sum, and there will be tumbleweeds on the bench.
In this case, fans will only have to witness the last breaths of great players, but forget about their successes not only until the end of their careers, but also until a new team is formed. And this, as a rule, is not a matter of several months. Although no stranger to Warriors fans, the team had not made the playoffs in 12 seasons at the turn of the century. It’s true that this happened in Oakland, but is San Francisco ready for this?
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