Warriors Must Find Direction in Difficult Retooling Process


For the first time since Golden State hired head coach Steve Kerr for the 2014-2015 season, the Warriors (finally) suffered a playoff series loss to a Western Conference opponent after falling short to the resurgent L.A. Lakers 4-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals.

So far — at least up to this point — it was always Golden State versus everyone else.

Since that 2014-2015 campaign, the Warriors secured four NBA titles and an additional two finals berths. That included five consecutive trips to the finals, a bar only achieved by the legendary Bill Russell and the 1960s Celtics. In the modern NBA, nonetheless, the Warriors achieved the unthinkable.

But is it over? Has this core maxed out, or is there more success still to come? Is this the beginning of the end for the Stephen CurryKlay ThompsonDraymond Green trio, or the start of a new, better chapter?

Golden State faces a crossroads-like offseason over the future of where the franchise could be heading. Yet, it was clear this season felt doomed from the start, especially with the Warriors’ initial plan to balance the present and future at the same time. The same flaws which led to Golden State’s regression in 2023 manifested and then some against L.A. this postseason. Even worse: they aren’t going away without some change.

With an aging trio, a lack of financial flexibility and a roster needing a concrete direction, there’s a lot the team needs to sort out over the next several months.

In short, the Warriors’ retool centers around making some tough decisions regarding new contracts, player personnel and identity.

Sorting out the finances

Golden State possessed the highest payroll in 2021-22 on the road to a championship that season. The Warriors will need to keep writing the checks if the franchise wants to stay in the title mix in 2023-24.

Draymond Green’s contract headlines some of the critical financial choices the Warriors plan to make this offseason. He owns a player option for this upcoming season valued at just under $28 million, per Spotrac. Green will look to capitalize on his value given the expected growth in player salaries starting in 2025, Green’s age (entering his age-33 season), and his role within the Warriors (irreplaceable).

Green’s skills fit seamlessly in Golden State with his versatility, defense, ball movement and voice in the locker room. Then again, that same voice arguably destroyed the Warriors’ chemistry before the season began with the punch directed to Jordan Poole.

The situation around Green remains the same since the topic was brought up back in October 2022. Steph Curry is under contract through the 2025-26 season. Both Poole and Andrew Wiggins earned four-year, $100-plus million extensions.

The Warriors also face another hefty luxury tax bill, with or without Green under contract. Keeping Green, whether because the Warriors can’t replace him or how much he means to the team, makes all the sense in the world. Yet, Golden State could be locking themselves into a trio all heading into their mid-thirties.

Part of that core also includes Thompson, who scored 16.2 points per game on 34% shooting in the Lakers series. From Curry’s first MVP season until his unforgettable 2019 Finals performance and rebirth in 2022, Klay also remains essential to this franchise, but there is the question of potential regression.

While he could take a pay cut of some kind, every dollar counts for the Warriors to retool this roster.

State of the Warriors’ roster

The Warriors’ retool also revolves around finding enough “innings eaters” to take load off Curry and finding enough Otto Porter Jr.’s and Andre Iguodala‘s of the world to serve as two-way forces.

Simply put, Golden State ran out of options this postseason. Poole’s regression on offense, in particular, damaged this team’s ceiling:

Jordan Poole in the postseason (2022 playoffs versus 2023 playoffs):

  • 17.0 –> 10.3 points per game
  • 51% –> 34% field-goal percentage
  • 39% –> 25% from three

However, Poole’s regular-season performance didn’t show promise, either. He bumped up the scoring from 18.5 points per game to in 2022 to 20.4/game this season, yet his efficiency plummeted while the turnovers and frustrating decisions increased. Given his contract, who knows what could happen regarding Poole’s future.

Then, there’s youngsters like Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, flashy players who offer potential but not consistency. Do the Warriors keep them around in hopes of improvement? Will either be traded for win-now depth?

Given the team’s financial constraints, the Warriors will need to find improvements along the margins. Those improvements need to solve three fundamental problems. First, Golden State’s defensive regression this season (21st in opponent points per game). Second, the collapses on the road which halted all momentum (11-30 this year away from home). But lastly, and most importantly, the Warriors must acquire playoff-worthy veterans who can adapt.

Golden State’s pass-heavy, perimeter-focused offense faced its kryptonite against L.A., a physical team who shut off the paint entirely. The Warriors need to get someone who can attack the basket and get something going toward the rim, especially with Curry heading into his age-35 season.

Is the Warriors’ dynasty over? Never count out the greats, after all.

But is this the beginning of the end? That all depends on this critical summer.

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About Dominic Chiappone

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