No matter the sport, or the league, any franchise with a transformational talent on the roster is obligated to ride that player until he’s done, or at least no longer elite.
Steph Curry spent last season proving to the Warriors and the rest of the NBA that he has years to go before he approaches that career intersection.
Ride Curry next season and the season after that and the season after that. Ride him until his wheels show signs of falling off.
But give him one or two more horses that fully understand the game, that know the league and that have what it takes to keep up with the franchise player. Not four or five years from now, but in the next few months.
For as nice as it might feel to own two top-14 draft picks for the first time since 2001, when they chose Jason Richardson at No. 5 and Troy Murphy at 14, the Warriors would be wise to wave the seventh and 14th picks with the all-day energy of those human billboards seen spinning signs on the sidewalk.
Given the way general manager Bob Myers answered my question Tuesday night, it seems he is ready to put on his costume, grab a sign and find a high-profile street corner.
“I think that there won't be – I don't think it will be a situation where we are trying to develop players at the risk of losing; that's the short answer to your question,” he said. “We're not going to develop and have it cost us games. That's not the plan.”
Can’t be the plan after back-to-back seasons with so much focus on development.
The Warriors last year – after realizing Klay Thompson would miss a second consecutive season – tried to get rookie center James Wiseman up to NBA speed despite entering the league with only 69 minutes of college experience, no Summer League and a fraction of training camp. It was a difficult ask, and it showed.
The previous season was catastrophic insofar as Thompson didn’t play at all and Curry, injured in the fourth game, missed four months. Given a couple veterans on cap-friendly contracts, coach Steve Kerr had no choice but to prioritize the development of rookies.
Myers’ response implies the three-rookie approach – we still consider Wiseman a rookie – is the least appealing of Golden State’s options for 2021-22. And it’s safe to assume Kerr certainly feels that way.
“We all kind of know how the league works,” he said after the season. “The knowledge you gain in this league from year to year is crucial, and what that means for a team's kind of institutional knowledge as a group is crucial to winning games, because these games come down to possessions. Everything matters.
“Yeah, if we can add a couple of vets, that would be great. “
The most appealing option? Moving at least one of those picks and a player for a veteran capable of stepping in and producing on Day 1 – while also adding another such player with their $5.9 million taxpayer midlevel exception.
Myers conceded that Thompson, coming off surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon, is not likely to be ready for the opening week and certainly can’t be expected to find his stride until at least midseason. With four starters – Curry, Wiseman, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins – in place and Kelly Oubre Jr. exploring his options, is Kerr comfortable starting a Damion Lee? Or a re-signed Kent Bazemore?
Or would Kerr – and Myers and Lacob – want to aim higher?
Curry will turn 34 next March, with Green and Thompson both turning 32 in the weeks prior. They have zero interest in another season trudging around the fringes of the playoffs. They want to rejoin the elite, and there is no doubt they’ve expressed as much and will continue to do so.
“They will, I'm sure, weigh in on their thoughts and we'll welcome those, we always do,” Myers said. “And if there's something that makes sense for them and for us, we'll do it.”
What makes the most sense for Green and Thompson, and certainly Curry, is to heed Kerr’s advice and bring in some horses that know the landscape and can run with the core.