Warriors

The Warriors Desperately Need the Trade Deadline

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The 2023-24 NBA trade deadline is on February 8th, less than one month from now.

The Golden State Warriors have to figure out a trade to help them move in the right direction. There isn’t any more room for excuses or different ideas, and time is running out on this iteration of the Warriors. The past season and a half has been a never-ending cycle of figuring out what their identity is.

The goal for every team involved in the trade deadline is to set the stage for a new direction. Thus, the Warriors have to follow suit.

Draymond’s Return

It’s official. The NBA has reinstated Draymond Green from his “indefinite” suspension. Green missed 12 games but will miss a couple more to ramp up his conditioning. Usually, it’d be great news to finally have one of the most important players in franchise history back in the lineup.

In this case, Green’s return complicates a lot for the Warriors.

Jonathan Kuminga has been playing very well in the starting forward spot, averaging 14.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 54.1 FG% with a plus-minus of +1.3. The game has started to slow down for him, as he is flashing his star qualities more often. He most likely goes back to the bench because Green can’t start games at center.

Chris Paul being out for 4-to-6 weeks with a fractured hand he suffered on Friday helps the crowded rotation in some ways. Green isn’t a guard, but Kerr sees him as another ball-handler. Kerr has committed to having at least two ball-handlers on the floor at all times. His commitment to that approach is also why he plays Cory Joseph over Moses Moody when they are missing a guard. Gary Payton II‘s hamstring injury will also help clear up minutes for others.

The Effects of His Return

The rotation will be figured out, hopefully. Kerr will have to find the right balance in the front court, and the main issue will be to balance Kevon Looney, Dario Šarić and Trayce Jackson-Davis. One of those three will have to have their minutes decreased, or Kerr has to be dynamic in choosing his lineups based on matchups.

That has been on the list of issues for the Warriors all season, and it’s not clear that it will improve without a trade. Every issue roots back to the logjam in the rotation.

But the details of Green’s suspension are sure to be a topic of discussion this week as he ramps up to get back on the court. Green was allowed to be at the practice facility during his suspension, but according to Steve Kerr, both the team and Green were giving each other “their space”.

Whatever Green was doing during this time is neither here nor there. What is confusing is his absence from even the practice facility. The quotes and narratives coming out as he returns make it seem like he was exiled from the NBA in the last several weeks. It sounds dramatic, but there’s something fishy about his full absence from anything related to the team.

The Warriors are approaching very important decisions to be made, and Green’s time away from the team may have opened the door to potential options. They are 7-6 without Green and Kuminga’s emergence is looking inevitable as he plays more games with a bigger role.

Another Hectic Week

They blew an 18-point lead in the last six minutes against the Nuggets on Thursday night. It was a slow burn that ended with a Nikola Jokić heave, similar to Stephen Curry‘s game-winner in OKC in 2016.

Jonathan Kuminga had to have a private meeting with Steve Kerr after not closing that game, even though he was playing well. Golden State was missing a player who can get to the rim at will. Kuminga was showing his improved floor game that night, and Kerr chose to go in a different direction. His decision may not have won or lost the game, but it certainly was disturbing that Kuminga’s skillset was not utilized.

Thankfully, the meeting between the two went well. Kuminga’s maturity has helped him throughout this season, and it’s a sigh of relief that this did not turn into a nagging narrative. They figured it out as adults, and it should strengthen their relationship moving forward.

On the next night of a back-to-back, the Warriors chugged through to get a win over the lowly Pistons. It was not an impressive win by any means, but they need to get wins any way they can. During the game, the Chase Center crowd chanted for Moses Moody, who has been seeing DNPs in the last several games.

Getting his first tick with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter after hearing chants earlier in the game should not sit right with the young wing. Reports stated that he and his camp are frustrated with his role on the team.

The Writings on the Wall

They finished the week by losing an excruciating game against the Raptors on Sunday night. They started the game with two straight turnovers, and that set the tone. It’s Curry’s job to get the team ready to compete, and he came out unaggressive and lethargic.

Part of the team’s lack of focus is attributed to Curry— he’s the leader and superstar of the team. It’s easy to imagine the losing attitude of the team has gotten to him as well, and he’s having a hard time dealing with it. It was the most difficult game to watch this season, as the team’s energy was nonexistent. It was another example showing that this team needs major change.

Kerr had his weekly rotation mistake in the third quarter instead of the fourth. While on a hot shooting quarter, Klay Thompson was taken out for Andrew Wiggins with less than two minutes left in the quarter. They had the lead cut to nine, and it quickly became 14 by the end of the quarter. The Raptors took back their 20-point lead a minute or two into the fourth quarter.

The Trade Market

The Warriors have to make a move no matter what. Steve Kerr has proven he cannot manage the rotation and playing time for all of the players who deserve to be out there. There have been too many games lost because of strange coaching decisions, and part of that fault is on the roster. This team needs to lessen the amount of players that can play on a nightly basis.

It would be a disservice to Curry, who is still playing in his late prime. He needs help. A 6’3 guard can’t carry the load of a middling team with an outdated coaching approach. The deadline is the perfect time to pick a new direction and set it in stone.

Is a Move Likely?

Throughout Golden State’s success in the last decade, they have never been an active member in the trade deadline. The two most prominent moves have come in the last four years. Last year, they traded James Wiseman for Gary Payton II, who they chose not to re-sign after winning the title in 2022. In 2020, they parted ways with D’Angelo Russell to acquire Andrew Wiggins, who proved to be a key contributor in 2022.

Mike Dunleavy Jr, the first-year general manager, has a massive test in front of him. These decisions are the reason why Bob Myers decided to step down. He knew the organization was on the cusp of a seismic change. Myers just didn’t want to be the person to have to coordinate that change.

Dunleavy already made one substantial move to get Chris Paul for Jordan Poole. This year’s Warriors have yet to get over the issues that have plagued them since last season. It’s the perfect time to pivot.

A trade might not save their season, but it can save their future.

About Christian Oblena

Born in San Francisco, raised in the East Bay, lifelong Bay Area sports fan. Here to give my own opinions on everything Dubs.

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