The Los Angeles Lakers just made next year very interesting for the Golden State Warriors. Or more to the point, LeBron James just inserted himself into the Warriors’ longer-term plans.
The stunning Isaiah Thomas trade/banishment that will end up clearing enough cap space for the Lakers to make their offseason run at James gives the Warriors a new team to concern themselves with, to go along with the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.
That is, of course, if all the ifs ands and buts gets crossed and dotted in the proper order and James comes west. For the Lakers, it can only mean that, for Thomas is almost surely deflated by the way his career has been crushed by a bad hip, a bad trade and now a bad political choice.
In other words, James wins, if he wants to be a Laker rather than a Sixer. Dan Gilbert wins, in that he sheds himself of his two most troublesome employees. And Thomas, once the hero of Boston, is now an ex-Cav and soon to be an ex-Laker, all in less than a year. Cash out? Barely conceivable now.
But the Warriors? They have been unconcerned by all teams save their own, and will hold to that through the remainder of this season. They will worry about 2019 when it’s time to worry about 2019.
But in fairness, to the same degree that they would worry about Houston and Oklahoma City and the ever-present spectre of San Antonio, they now must consider worrying about the Los Angeles Lakers.
If anything else, it makes the Western Conference more intriguing than ever, if the Warriors aren’t intriguing enough for you on their own.
Of course, James is like every other player ever, in that age is lurking at the perimeter. He is 33, but more importantly he has played more than 50,000 minutes of basketball when you include the postseason. Moments like Wednesday’s are fewer and farther between. He is an extraordinary player whose days are shortening.
In other words, the Lakers’ window for troubling the Warriors is narrower than the Warriors’ own window. Again, at least we think so.
But barring the JaVale McGee trade that may not happen, this is the biggest thing to happen to the Warriors all day, and that’s not scheduled to start concerning them until June.
In other words, that’s your NBA deadline day, localized for your amusement.