Warriors can find these silver linings from lost 2019-20 NBA season

Warriors can find these silver linings from lost 2019-20 NBA season

Ever since the ninth day of the season, when they were informed that Steph Curry would miss at least three months, the Warriors have had one request of the 2019-20 season.

End it.

Kevin Durant had departed for the Brooklyn Nets. Klay Thompson was in the early stages of a nine-month rehabilitation and, then, Curry was out for medical reasons. With 78 games remaining.

Management and coaches immediately knew what was coming, that their hope for a bridge year -- with no realistic chance to win it all but the possibility of tested veterans Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Curry introducing the playoffs to a gang of new faces -- would instead be a dreaded gap year.

The Warriors on Thursday finally got the wish they’ve been so reluctant to share since the NBA was shut down on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The league announced that Golden State’s season of aches, injuries, rehabs and despair is over.

The Warriors will not be among the 22 teams to go active when games resume July 31. The schedule is limited to teams sitting on a playoff berth or still with a chance of getting in. The Warriors were eliminated in their final game before the hiatus, a 131-107 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Chase Center, that left them with a 15-50 record that they truly earned.

“So,” general manager Bob Myers cracked to NBC Sports Bay Area recently, “I guess we got to see we’re not very good without Steph and Klay.”

Yet those 65 games provided Myers and his lieutenants in the front office a large sample size to evaluate the roster and devise a personnel plan. The Warriors know they need more size, better interior defense and, of course, more shooting.

It gave the expanded, 10-man coaching staff plenty of opportunities to teach and also learn. Indeed, for the first time since Steve Kerr’s initial season in 2014-15, the focus was on schemes and tutorials. Draymond was forced to become something of a player-coach, which he said raised his level of patience.

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It was exceedingly valuable for rookies Eric Paschall and Jordan Poole to get far more playing time than they would have under normal conditions. Paschall was needed and he shuttled between both forward spots without embarrassing himself. Poole had enough time to lose his shot and realize what it would take to rediscover it.

Players like Poole and Paschall, as well as Andrew Wiggins and Marquese Chriss, who are expected to be in the rotation next season got a chance to soak in the culture and spoke highly of it.

“No matter what your record is, there's so many ways to steal the joy from a team,” Myers said. “There's ways to kind of make it feel a lot harder than it should. Steve does a great job of keeping things in perspective, keeping it light but also competitive.”

[RELATED: Steph took noteworthy knee in protesting police brutality]

The most important thing the Warriors can take from this season, though, is the mental and physical intermission afforded their three stars. That cannot be overstated.

Coming off five consecutive runs to The Finals, Curry, Green and Thompson never got much of a break. All three, even with Klay coming off an ACL tear, should be refreshed when the next season starts, probably in December. Given the tremendous energy Draymond must expend to be at his most effective, he probably needed more recovery than he is willing to admit.

The unspoken but prevailing sentiment beneath Warriors ownership was that the NBA would be wasting of a couple weeks on a team going nowhere.

The Warriors, knowing there was minimal chance they would return to finish the season, already had begun shifting toward 2020-21. Now, they can bury the season they want to forget and go full speed toward what they have reason to believe will be better days.

Six under-radar free agents Warriors could pursue signing in offseason

Six under-radar free agents Warriors could pursue signing in offseason

The Warriors need to shore up their depth at key positions if they intend to make a run at the NBA title next season.

If Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are healthy next season, the front office will have to mix and match with what they already have filling out the roster, bringing in new additions with limited money to spend.The Warriors will only have the taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum contracts at their disposal to hand out to unrestricted free agents.

We already examined the guards, wings and big men who clearly could interest the Warriors. But what about the free agents who might not immediately catch your eye?

With limited salary-cap room at their disposal, perhaps those are the exact type of players the Warriors should pursue.


NBA rumors: Warriors wouldn't have let Steph Curry play in Orlando

NBA rumors: Warriors wouldn't have let Steph Curry play in Orlando

The NBA reportedly is considering creating a second "bubble" in Chicago for the eight teams that were not included in the Orlando bubble as part of the league's expanded playoff format. Warriors general manager Bob Myers said Thursday that Golden State potentially would participate, despite coach Steve Kerr previously insisting that the Dubs would not be interested in such a setup.

It remains to be seen if the second bubble actually will take place, but even if it does, it sure seems like you won't be seeing Steph Curry play in it. ESPN's Jackie MacMullan reported he wouldn't have played in Orlando had the Warriors qualified, and it begs the question as to why Chicago would be any different.

"I was told unequivocally by people at Golden State," MacMullan said Thursday on the "Hoop Collective" podcast, "if Golden State came back (to play in Orlando) they weren't gonna let Steph Curry step foot on the floor."

"The reason they were worried about Steph Curry," MacMullan added, "was because they didn't feel that he had played enough to come back."

So, there you have it. The Warriors arguably would have very little to gain from participating in the Chicago bubble, and given that there is no championship at stake -- like there is in Orlando -- Golden State doesn't have much motivation to send its star veteran players, especially those that are returning from injury.

Curry played in precisely one of the Warriors' final 61 games before the season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic after returning from a broken wrist. And if he isn't going to play, you can bet Klay Thompson -- who would be returning from a torn ACL -- won't either.

[RELATED: Stephen A believes Warriors will return to title contention]

Draymond Green previously said that he would have played in Orlando, but if the Splash Brothers are out, why would Golden State risk the health of the other remaining piece of its championship core?

The Warriors need to find a way to stay in basketball shape and continue developing chemistry over what is going to be an extremely long layoff before the start of next season. But if Curry, Thompson and Green aren't involved, then that kind of ruins the whole point.

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