NBC Sports

Why Warriors didn't need to make megatrade this offseason

NBC Sports
Steve Kerr, Steph Curry

SAN FRANCISCO – When Stephen Curry’s sensational age-33 season was not enough to pull the Warriors into the playoffs, a segment of Dub Nation had one request of the team’s front office: Please, for the sake of Steph, trade for another All-Star.

This was not an outlandish plea. The Warriors, led by CEO Joe Lacob and team president Bob Myers, had crafted a reputation for broad ambition and already proved capable of making a megadeal, whether through trade or free agency.

There also was some unease regarding the expectations of Klay Thompson’s future after the five-time All-Star missed back-to-back seasons due to surgeries, 16 months apart, on his left knee and right Achilles’ tendon.

So, the shiny names flew.

Toronto’s Pascal Siakam! Washington’s Bradley Beal! Indiana’s Myles Turner! OK, how about Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons?

If Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, Jordan Poole and the two lottery picks were all or part of the package, so be it.

Many, if not most, of the fans were on board. This was about timing, about striking while Curry is hot. By the time the kids grew up, his championship window would be closing, if not shut.

The Warriors made no splashy deal at all. No sexy free-agent signing, no big trade.

“I don’t know what that trade was because nothing was ever brought to us,” coach Steve Kerr says. “Nothing was brought to me; I talk to Bob all the time. So, all the stuff that you read is all speculation.”

 

There was one potential deal, with the 76ers for Simmons, but it was dismissed with giggles. The Warriors kept Wiggins and Wiseman. They added teenage lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, and show every indication of keeping both.

Most importantly, they still have the rapidly improving Poole. He has a complete scoring arsenal, can make plays for others and is driven to be a star. He’s only 22, with a contract that keeps him under team control through at least two more seasons.

All factors considered, it seems smarter of the Warriors to resist chasing an All-Star if it means offering a package that starts with Wiggins (for salary-matching reasons) and Poole but also could include Wiseman and one or both lottery picks.

Realizing Poole is no less than an explosive Sixth Man, with plenty of potential yet to be tapped, the Warriors stayed pat. They’re much better off financially and, really, is the roster markedly worse?

“There’s been a shift in how Jordan is perceived,” Myers tells NBC Sports Bay Area. “And that’s on him and our coaching staff. They deserve the credit. I don’t want to be the guy who says he’s made it and is great – just like I don’t want to be the guy who says a year ago that he couldn’t do it. I still think he’s got a long way to go.

“But we’re hopeful that he can carry a load until Klay is back (December at the earliest) and he’s done a good job of convincing us that he has a chance to do that. His teammates and coaches are feeling the same way.”

Trading Poole now would be a lot less popular than it was in July. Put another way, trading Wiggins and Poole for, say, Beal, would invite all manner of debate among fans – and, for the Warriors, the probability of regret in 2024, if not sooner.

Entering training camp last month, the Warriors were widely considered a top-10 NBA team, with a chance to slip into the top five. After a 5-0 preseason, with the Curry-Poole tandem destroying defenses, they’ve moved firmly into the top five. Perhaps they would be considered No. 1 had they acquired a known All-Star. Maybe. But with so many teams capable of winning it all, being close to the favorites -- the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers -- puts the Warriors in a position 25 other teams would love to be in.

“I think the story is how open the West is,” Myers says. “Since I’ve been in the job ... it’s been a case of one or two teams coming out of the West. Sometimes it’s one. You know which team is coming out of the West. But now? I don’t know. Like, nobody picked Phoenix last year.”

 

The Warriors are imperfect. They’re smallish and won’t have the desired “vertical spacing” until Wiseman is cleared to play, projected to be sometime in November. They lack a point-of-attack hound to annoy the likes of Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox -- all Western Conference guards capable of taking over a game.

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But could the shortcomings have been wiped away by acquiring one of the players identified in the speculation so rampant during the summer? Not really.

“I know that as an organization, our front office was looking at everything, pursuing everything,” Kerr says. “If there (were) something that made sense, they would have done it.

"I’m thrilled with the roster that we have.”

The roster that will take the court Tuesday night in Los Angeles, win or lose, is good enough to be a factor in the early going but is capable of playing with most any team, in either conference, once Thompson and Wiseman return and find their rhythm.

All in all, it seems the Warriors are in a reasonably good spot, and they landed there without sacrificing any of their future.

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