The Golden State Warriors do not have the resume of a contender if you look at this season: 12th in offense, 18th in defense, 15th in net rating. Even after the All-Star Game, they are ninth in defense and 12h in net rating. Believers in the Warriors trust the muscle memory of seasons past and that they can flip the switch to last June again.
Golden State’s decline in play this season — combined with the looming contract decisions for Draymond Green (player option, the Warriors chose not to extend him last offseason) and GM Bob Myers (his contract expires after the season) — has led to a feeling this could be the final run of this Warriors era.
Kerr shot that idea down, speaking to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.
“This is not ‘The Last Dance,’” Kerr said on my podcast earlier this week, referring to the epic 10-episode 2020 documentary recounting those weighty Bulls days. “That was made clear in Chicago (back in 1997), that that was going to be it, Phil was done and everybody’s contracts were up. That was going to be it.
“That’s not the case here at all. I know that Joe (Lacob) would love to keep this thing going. He’s been incredible in his financial commitment to keep this team strong and relevant for a decade. He’s always committed to that. So I think there’s a really good possibility that we keep things going here.”
Keep things going with the same core, with this team’s defensive anchor and architect still in place? Or, keep things going because Stephen Curry and his brilliance remain with enough scoring and playmaking around him, but with some key differences?
Green’s situation will be telling. There are signs of his game declining at age 33 — though not much defensively, he has remained elite on that end and should be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year (the Warriors’ shoddy team defense is a check against him). He has a $27.6 million player option for next season. The Warriors chose to spend their money last offseason on massive extensions for Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, not Green, who was eligible and wanted one. Lacob and ownership in Golden State has talked about the team approaching a maximum of what they can spend in terms of salary and luxury tax, and Green will have other suitors (even though his game is not exactly plug-and-play). Is Green the guy standing without a chair when the music stops? Does he feel snubbed enough by last season to look elsewhere? Despite the decline in his game, his defense and secondary playmaking as a passer remain keys to unlocking what the Warriors can do.
What kind of a playoff run the Warriors make may factor into all of this. The West feels wide open, but can this Warriors team take advantage of that?