After tap-dancing around the issue after the NBA draft last week, the Warriors this week are destined to find an answer to the most urgent question about their immediate future.
Do they still have the means, merit and magnetism to persuade free agents with options that Golden State, despite its financial limitations, is where they want to be?
Those answers can begin trickling in Monday afternoon at 3 p.m., when teams officially begin negotiations with free agents, and can be formally revealed as soon as Thursday night at 9:01 p.m., when signings can become official.
The Warriors are targeting, among others, LA Clippers forward Nicolas Batum and former Golden State favorite Andre Iguodala, according to league sources. Representatives for Spurs point guard Patty Mills likely will – and certainly should – get a call. CEO Joe Lacob indicated Friday that he’d like a bit more brawn, and Nuggets forward Paul Millsap fits that description.
“We need some veterans,” team president Bob Myers said after the Warriors selected teenagers Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody with their lottery picks. “I don't know who that will be. We've got to find out if we can win a tie. If we offer somebody something, how do they feel about us?”
Decoding, “win a tie” means beat out a competitive bid. How they “feel about us” is the operative phrase the Warriors hope will swing things in their favor.
After one season roaming the NBA wilderness and another trapped in the grip of mediocrity, the Warriors want to revive the prestige they once had, back when we all knew how players felt about Golden State. Its dot on the NBA map was enlarged in 2013, and in 2016 the franchise became, for the first time in its history, a legitimate NBA destination. The destination.
The league discovered that Draymond Green’s passion could be inspiring, found Klay Thompson’s cool fury a source of fascination and understood that Steve Kerr’s approach to coaching was perhaps the most libertarian in the NBA. As attractive as all that was, most of the allure was directly related to the enchanting presence of Stephen Curry.
It was Curry’s embrace that recruited Kevin Durant, which two days later led to the signing of David West, which three days later led the signing of Zaza Pachulia. Two months later, Andre Iguodala and Curry were opening the door for JaVale McGee.
What followed were three fantastic seasons, two championships and one once-forlorn franchise making itself comfortable in a room of gilded thrones, maids and valets included. Life was good enough to eat for dessert.
Why wouldn’t DeMarcus Cousins jump at the chance to join the club?
Curry, Green and Thompson were in their 20s, generally in good health, one foot planted firmly in their primes. The Warriors were a statement, a movement, a revolution the rest of the NBA was powerless to stop.
Curry will turn 34 next season, with Green and Thompson both turning 32. It’s a marvelous core, presuming Klay is 85-90 percent of his old self over the second half of next season. The dynamic has changed, as has the energy, both casualties of missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Lacob thinks the Warriors still should be good. Of course, he does. His luxury tax bill is astronomical, his confidence unbridled.
“I think we should be very good,” he told The Athletic, adding that anything less would lead to sleepless nights.
Myers is a bit more cautious. He has spent more years in the boiler rooms of the NBA. He knows dreams, even with a plan, can be stolen without warning.
He knows that what happened between 2014 and 2019 was the stuff of fantasy.
He knows that what happened in June 2019, when Durant and Thompson were struck down by severe injuries, is fate.
And now, after those bitter twists, Myers is hoping karma has gifts for the roster.
“I hope players want to come play for us,” he said. “Players also want to make money, and we have to gauge that. We're always competitive, but at the end of the day it has to break a certain way. But I'm pretty confident we'll get some guys.”
He would have been a lot more confident three or four years ago. And we’ll know in a few days if he was justified in having any confidence at all.