30 teams in 30 days: Golden State Warriors seem primed for another dominant season
NBA.com Global on Sep 20, 2017 08:12 AM
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with teammates after the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113 in Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
By Shaun Powell, NBA.com
Since the Warriors downed the Cavs to take the 2017 NBA title back on June 12, NBA teams have undergone a number of changes over the long summer offseason.
NBA.com's Shaun Powell will evaluate the state of each franchise -- from the team with the worst regular-season record in 2016-17 to the team with the best regular-season record -- as we look at 30 teams in 30 days.
Today's team: Golden State Warriors
2016-17 Record: 67-15
Who’s new: Omri Casspi (free agent), Nick Young (free agent), Jordan Bell (Draft)
Who's gone: Ian Clark, James Michael McAdoo
The lowdown: Those who sit atop the throne leave the panicking and changes to others, and so the Warriors were content to savor their title victory and the players on hand, and who could blame them?
Really, now. The majority of their rotation players are still in their prime. There was no need for housecleaning, only housekeeping.
And so the summer was all about giving Stephen Curry is long overdue maximum contract, and rewarding Kevin Durant for a job well done, and picking up the tab to keep Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee, David West, Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pachulia.
The key to everything was Durant, who shook up the NBA in 2016 by leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to join a then-two-time NBA Finalist. Durant chose to sign a two-year extension at below his market value in order for the Warriors to keep the championship roster intact and mostly to give Iguodala the third year that he craved. It was a team-friendly gesture by Durant, who makes a mint on off-court revenues anyway, and that allowed him to take less salary without feeling the pinch in his wallet.
Durant will get his payday soon enough, certainly when the Warriors are ready to move into their San Francisco digs in a few years. Such was the case with Curry, too. For the last three seasons, he was the biggest bargain in pro sports: a two-time Kia MVP who, at one point, was the fifth-highest-paid player on his own team. Well, Curry cashed in this summer, not that it was such a big surprise that he stayed with Golden State.
The only sticky contract negotiation involved Iguodala, and it was all about a third year. He’s 33 and his production has declined gradually over the last few seasons, all of which are red flags. Yet, Iguodala once again played superbly against the Cavs in The Finals, especially in the Game 5 of the 2017 series. After a lengthy stare-down, the two agreed on $48 million over three years, and the Warriors were at a slight disadvantage in leverage.
Because of cap restraints, they couldn’t replace Iguodala with an equally-talented player, and besides, Durant lowered his demands specifically to keep him. Once the heavy lifting was done, the Warriors turned their attention to the supporting cast. In short, everyone came away happy, or at least content enough.
The only pain will be felt by ownership because the luxury tax will be steep. That said, the Warriors are a gold mine and will only become more valuable and profitable once they move across the bay.
They only added three players and they appear to be solid moves by GM Bob Myers. He convinced his bosses to buy a second-round pick, which he used on Bell, a 6-foot-8 forward from Oregon who will immediately be developed for the future.
There’s also a pair of vets who could make their way into the rotation: Omri Casspi and especially the enigmatic Nick Young, who if nothing else will make an exciting team more, um, entertaining. When he gets into a rhythm, Young can be an unconscious scorer and potent sixth-man type.
Given their cap situation, the Warriors were fortunate to not only keep the core intact, but to also add an intriguing rookie. Again, no major moves were necessary, but these additions can help if something goes wrong.
The rather quiet summer had an added bonus: Coach Steve Kerr reported that all is well with his health. He sat for an extended stretch in the playoffs while dealing with the after-effects of back surgery before returning for the NBA Finals.
Kerr’s status was somewhat questionable, but he squashed any notion of him stepping aside, declaring himself fit for duty for 2017-18. That was good news to management, which doesn’t want a repeat of will-he or won’t-he be ready to coach an entire season.
Everyone is on board for another run at a championship and the Warriors will be favored, perhaps heavily so, to repeat. While major change beckoned in Houston and Cleveland and Boston, home to other title contenders, the Warriors took care of a few business matters this offseason. Then, they reached for a cold drink while sitting in a lounge chair by the bay.
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