Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
The Warriors lost Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night, which means they trail two-games-to-one in a playoff series, something they have not experienced much since Steve Kerr took over as head coach of the team. The circumstances are quite unique and new to the Warriors, however, as they have not had to deal with mass health issues all at one time during their historic postseason runs.
With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney missing the game Wednesday night, the Warriors struggled to combat an aggressive and efficient Toronto Raptors team. With potentially four games remaining in the entire season, getting Durant and Thompson back on the court will be imperative for the team's success.
But looking forward past the Finals, the Warriors must be wary of how their team is performing right now without their top three unrestricted free agents. Normally one might say that the Warriors are getting a preview of how the team might look without them, but the fact of the matter is that most of the healthy players' place on next season's roster is filled with uncertainty.
The list of Warriors players that are unrestricted or restricted free agents next season includes Durant, Thompson, Looney, DeMarcus Cousins, Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook, Jonas Jerebko, and Andrew Bogut. The team has an option to retain Alfonzo McKinnie, and also an option to opt-out of Shaun Livingston's contract. In fact, the only Warriors that have their spot on the team solidified next season are Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Damian Jones and Jacob Evans III.
In the Warriors' dream world, they are able to re-sign Durant, Thompson and Looney and then start constructing their bench with a combination of current teammates and available free agents that fill important needs like athletic wings and outside shooters.
But with so much future uncertainty, the Warriors' depth is not only fighting for a title, but also for future contracts. Cook played a playoff career-high 27 minutes Wednesday night, and has become an integral piece to create spacing on the floor without two of their top scorers. Bell has had flashes of brilliance, but also some defensive miscues. Jerebko has come off the bench playing an always-ready-to-shoot, aggressive style of basketball. While the productivity for him has not always been there, it would be surprising if there isn't a team out there that admires his energy off the bench.
Bogut will return to Sydney after the season, but his play since rejoining the Warriors has led many to believe this same role and situation could present itself at the end of next season too. Finally, Cousins has overcome another major injury to prove his resiliency and impressive work ethic. While he can take a more modest contract, for his standards, with the Warriors next season, it is much more likely that Cousins receives a big money offer for a one-year "prove-it" type deal from another team.
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On the ABC telecast Wednesday night, color-analyst Jeff Van Gundy commented that he believed the Warriors without Durant, Thompson or Looney would not have made the playoffs if they were to play with the current healthy roster for an entire regular season. Not only would the available Warriors disagree with that statement, they believe they are good enough to win an NBA title. There are potentially four games remaining in the NBA Finals, and the Warriors have some fighting to do if they are to get the three-peat. A majority of the roster does not know where they will be playing next season, but they are not letting that distract them from the task at hand.