The wand once used by the Warriors to wave a touch of magic around the NBA has degraded into a stick, with a small, aging carrot swaying in a fading breeze.
The 54-83 record over the past two seasons shoved the dynasty years into the history books, stripping the franchise of its cachet. Now that the benefits are harder to discern, productive free agents don’t hit the market hoping for a call from the Warriors.
Kent Bazemore, who loves the team’s culture and loves his friend Stephen Curry, spun away after one season – though he was invited back – and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Because he wanted a better chance to win a championship.
That sums up Golden State’s offseason, which clearly did not proceed as hoped.
Aiming high in pursuit of healthy, productive veterans, such as Nicolas Batum and Patty Mills, the Warriors landed Otto Porter and Nemanja Bjelica, two shooters with red flags related to injuries and disuse.
Andre Iguodala is a different category. He’s plug-and-play and great for the culture, though at age 37 his workload must be carefully monitored if he’s to be effective in the postseason.
Iguodala’s addition pushed Golden State’s offseason from C-minus to C. The Summer League appearances of lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody lifted it to a B-minus.
Which feels fairly lenient in the wake of team president Bob Myers saying they wanted players “that have done it before, maybe even in playoff series.” And that they would target “guys that can stretch the floor, maybe a shooting big, maybe a playmaking guard.”
Bjelica, the shooting big, missed roughly 30 games last season. Porter, a nice wing, missed more than 100 games over the last two seasons. Iguodala is a wing that specializes in defense but also makes his team better on offense. The rookies are wings facing a sharp learning curve. Not a playmaking guard in the bunch.
It was only three years ago that four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, a free agent coming off surgery for a ruptured Achilles’ tendon reached out to the Warriors in hopes they’d consider signing him.
“I said I'd take the minimum. I just wanted a team that wanted me," Cousins wrote in the Players Tribune.
Myers, initially questioning whether Boogie was serious, arranged for him to speak with key members of the team, including Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant.
When Cousins eventually signed for the mid-level exception of $5.3 million, many around the NBA saw it as the Warriors leveraging their prestige.
They someday might return to such a lofty position, but there was no sign of it this summer.