Long before they poured champagne over the championship euphoria, Golden State Warriors chief manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr shared some uncertainty about whether should even happen.
As Kerr told Myers before the NBA playoffs began, “I don’t know if it’s a championship team.”
Forget the various NBA experts who have expressed doubts about Warriors’ ability to win a fourth NBA title in eight years. Kerr admitted he foresaw that Warriors would become a “conference finalist, perhaps not beyond” due to the overlapping injuries of these stars (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green) and the mixed progress with the core young players.
“We laughed at it. We said, ‘Well, what do we know?’
This is because the Warriors could no longer rely on Kevin Durant to advance them to the NBA title, as he did twice in three consecutive finals (2017-2019). But unlike the pre-play talk about potential, the franchise now seems more courageous after winning its first NBA title after leaving Durant’s free agency (2019).
“My experience is that if you win the championship, you will get better next year,” Kerr said. “If you continue after that, it will start to exhaust you. This third year was brutally difficult for us to achieve three peat in 19 years. But whether I was a player or now a coach, you win the first one, there is freedom. There is excitement. and it will be carried over to the second year.
It presents the Warriors with what Myers called a “high-class problem.” Just a week after beating the Boston Celtics in the decisive 6th game, the Warriors are faced with decisions that could decide whether they can continue with the championship.
When the 2022 NBA draft takes place on Thursday (8 ET, ABC / ESPN), the decision-making process will begin as the Warriors seek out some reliable young talent with their three draft choices of 28, 51 and 55.
Do Warriors agree to the early extension of two players (Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole) who helped them get back to the top? Do they keep key-free agents like Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala?
When lead assistant coach Mike Brown leaves Sacramento to instruct Kings, will the Warriors find a suitable replacement for Kerri’s coaching team?
Can Warriors continue to rely on their star stadium to nurture young talent (James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody)?
1. Add more prospects
The Warriors are trying to add to their list by adding young NBA prospects to their teams, as they did in 2019 – when they used their 28th choice to choose a Party that has since developed into a rotating player. But the same can’t be said if the Warriors used the same first-round selection in 2018 as Jacob Evans, who barely broke the rotation. Remember that Tony Parker, the guardian of the San Antonio Spurs, is the only gem in the 28th Choice History. Otherwise, there have been 11 historically 11 players who have been in the NBA for at least 10 years, 28 have played less and five have never played in the NBA.
“A man like that will show you how valuable it is to do it right,” Myers said.
2. Store keyless agents
But Golden State has more control over the retention of its players, so what’s the future for Wiggins and Poole?
Myers called it a “high priority” for both Wiggins and Poole extensions. After Wiggins earned his first all-season NBA season in the All Star tournament, the third in Golden State, the veteran swingman is eligible for an extension of $ 172.2 million for up to four years. Outstanding as a scorer, game manager and defender in its fourth NBA season, Poole was eligible for an extension of up to $ 190 million over five years.
Technically, Warriors has time to negotiate a deal even next season, and both Wiggins and the party have signed a deal so far. Although Myers does not expect to reach these deals as soon as the free agency begins on June 30, it hopes to reach a solution before next summer. If the Warriors do not grant an extension to either player, Wiggins will be an unrestricted free agent and will be restricted.
“We’re doing everything we can to keep both boys,” Myers said. “They were great for us.”
The Warriors said the same for most of their seven free agents.
Kerr described Looney as the “center of the championship and today’s defender” after helping Warriors with a racket, rebound, screens and push games as both a beginner and a reserve man. Although Looney spent most of his seven-year NBA career staying healthy, Looney became one of five NBA players this season to play in all 82 regular season games.
“He’s a huge component of our success,” Kerr said. “We all want him back. We also support him personally so that he gets a really good deal, so hopefully it will be with us.
The Warriors praised Gary Payton II for his shooting, defensive, and endurance. Payton, the sixth year guard who spent time with four different teams before staying in the Golden State, showed his toughness in other ways during the play-offs.
“I hope our players give us a chance to respond to the offer,” Myers said. “They don’t owe it to us, but you get it if you win and create a good environment.”
As for NBA veteran Iguodala, who joined the Warriors in 2021-2022. At the beginning of the year, under a minimum veteran contract, both Kerr and Myers expressed uncertainty about a possible extension of his 18-year career.
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP Iguodala was limited to a field role this season as several injuries left him in 12 playoff games and 50 main season games. Nevertheless, the Warriors praised Iguodala’s behind-the-scenes guidance. Kerr argued that a major turning point in the play-offs came when Iguodala told his teammates in their first-round series against Denver Nuggets that “you have to make the virtue better in order to win the championship.”
No wonder Kerr said “we’d like him back on the list.” But what about being an assistant coach? Kerr thought, “I think he’s too smart to sit next to me and come to all our coaches’ meetings and do it.”
3. Replace Mike Brown
On the one hand, the Warriors expressed relief that Kenny Atkinson would return for his third season after allegedly changing his mind about accepting Charlotte Hornets as a coach. Kerr called Atkinson a “fantastic development coach” because of how he treats players and analyzes numbers.
Myers, on the other hand, predicts that Atkinson will receive other coaching offers soon. The Warriors are discussing how to replace former assistant coach Brown, who organized the team’s rotations and defensive plans. Myers said “we prefer internal” ways to deal with this vacancy, but the Warriors have not ruled out any external candidates.
In the midst of these discussions, the Warriors do not seem worried about the potential impact on their already overly leading payroll.
Golden State spent a total of about $ 346 million on payroll and luxury taxes last season, up $ 24.6 million from the upcoming campaign. They can spend more than the limit to keep Looney and Payton, but can’t do the same for veteran Otto Porter Jr. after he agreed to the veteran’s minimum contract. Warriors may have other vacancies with three other unrestricted free agents (Nemanja Bjelica, Chris Chiozza, Damion Lee) and limited free agents (Juan Toscano-Anderson, Quinndary Weatherspoon).
However, majority owner Joe Lacob has shown that he is willing to spend for two reasons: Because the Chase Center is a privately funded arena, the Warriors benefit from both home games and other entertainment events. Lacob has considered this variable to be a degree of operating expense.
4. Keep up the good work
The success of the Warriors also depends on how much they earn from what they have.
After Curry, Thompson and Green won their fourth NBA title together, Myers noted that “they are in pretty good shape right now.” The Warriors expressed optimism that Thompson will play more consistently next season after returning in mid-2021-2022 after 2.5 years of injury absence. And with Curry collecting his first Bill Russell Finals MVP, Kerr is confident he will be able to stay in the lead for Warriors in future play-offs.
“He absolutely reached the top of the play-offs,” Kerr said. “I think next year he’ll have a harder time putting together an 82-game season next year, and next year, like he did seven years ago. But in the play-offs, if you have a break between games and you’re really busy? was the best I’ve ever seen him, given his two-way performance.
As far as young people are concerned, they will be clear about their potential this summer. After playing the start-up season sparingly, center Jonathan Kuminga and guard Moses Moody should play in either the California Classic (July 2-3) or the Las Vegas Summer League (July 7-17). Possibly both. The same is true of third-year center James Wiseman, who skipped his entire second season during surgically repaired right knee rehabilitation. Myers said all three could play significant minutes next season.
Kerr will worry about the list later.
“I’m excited about the holidays,” Kerr said. “But I’m excited to be coaching again next year.”
This is because Kerr can no longer imagine the Warriors falling short of the NBA title. This time he may be right.
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Mark Medina is a senior NBA.com writer / analyst. You can email him here, find his archive here, and follow him Twitter.
The views expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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