For Dub Nation, it was surreal and heartbreaking to wake up this morning with the Warriors as non-champions for the first time in just over two years.
Losing two future Hall of Famers to cataclysmic injuries in back-to-back Finals games was the equivalent of a meteor striking the basketball world twice in one week. (Except these meteors helped the dinosaurs.)
But despair not, Warriors fans – there exists a potential path back to glory. Here’s an eight-point plan for world domination.
1. Re-sign Kevin Durant for five years and $221M
OK, we know this has been considered unlikely, but it became more plausible after the Achilles tear that will likely force him to miss all of the 2019-20 season. The Warriors can offer KD $57 million more (including one extra year) than anyone else, and that may have suddenly become more attractive to him in light of an injury that will remove a year of his prime and could shorten his career on the back end.
2. Re-sign Klay Thompson for five years and $191M
This seemed highly likely already and feels like a lock after the ACL tear that could cost him all of 2019-20. Klay's father, Mychal, reportedly said Friday there's "no question" that his son will re-sign with Golden State. Klay loves it here, the management and fans love him, and he is a legendary shooter and healer whose game figures to age well despite the injury.
3. Both sit out next season entirely
4. The Warriors spend the 2019-20 season tanking
Now, that will be painful for the two all-world players they’ll still have active, Steph Curry and Draymond Green, two of the most talented and competitive athletes on the planet. But each could use a year to rest and recharge after playing more than a full season’s worth of postseason games over the past five years.
In the name of “load management,” the Warriors could withhold them from back-to-backs as the Raptors did this year with Kawhi Leonard, and leave the rest of the roster to marginal bench talent and prospects. This would likely serve to miss the playoffs entirely, while also offering an opportunity to evaluate the long-term ceiling of young players like Damian Jones, Jacob Evans and next week's draft picks.
(Spoiler alert: this is not a new idea. It is similar to the blueprint used by the San Antonio Spurs to establish their dynasty. Thanks to key injuries, the talented Spurs plummeted all the way from 59 wins in 1995-96 to 20 in 1996-97. Their consolation prize was Tim Duncan, and two seasons later, they won the first of five NBA titles).
This strategy may not prove popular with fans who have shelled out big bucks for personal seat licenses and tickets in San Francisco and weren’t expecting to watch the Santa Cruz Warriors. But at least for one honeymoon year in the new arena, it is a captive audience, and on balance, fans should understand one year of pain for long-term gain.
5. Use the resulting lottery pick to obtain the next Warriors star
And hey, it doesn’t have to be with the first or second pick. The Warriors selected all-time greats Curry, Thompson and Green with the 7th, 11th and 35th picks in the draft, respectively. Kawhi was the 15th overall pick in 2011. This is about player evaluation, not ping-pong balls.
6. Keep the band together by re-signing Draymond Green in 2020
Draymond is the heart, soul and defensive engine of the team. Joe Lacob said back in May he hopes Draymond is a Warrior forever. Let's make that happen.
7. Come back healthy in the fall of 2020
With KD and Klay back, Steph and Draymond rejuvenated and a transcendent young talent (or two) in the fold, the Dubs will have countless motivation. Steph and KD will be 32 years old, Klay and Draymond will be 30 – still plenty of great basketball left.
8. CRUSH EVERYTHING IN YOUR PATH FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS!
This plan would weigh very heavily on Joe Lacob and friends' wallets. Given how far it would extend the Warriors into salary cap repeater taxes, it could saddle them with the largest payroll in sports history, well north of $300 million.
But hey, that’s what the new Chase Center is for, right? If you want to be Light Years Ahead, you have to pay the freight.
Let’s choose to dream.