Warriors' offseason plan to sign and trade veterans worked perfectly

Warriors' offseason plan to sign and trade veterans worked perfectly

Willie Cauley-Stein was traded by the Warriors in late January, his departure reportedly followed 10 days later by Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III.

Cruel as it may seem, this always was the Warriors’ plan.

To move three veterans for as many future draft picks as possible, and they now have four more than they had two weeks ago.

Burks and Robinson were scratched an hour before tipoff Wednesday night in Brooklyn because the Warriors were deep in discussions to trade both wings before the noon Thursday deadline. As word went through the locker room, reality set in and the Warriors slumbered their way to a 129-88 loss to the Nets.

“It was a tough night to go out and play,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters at Barclays Center. “Two of our leaders, elder statesmen, guys who are really beloved in the locker room. For the team to find out that those two guys are most likely going to be traded was pretty tough. We all just found out prior to the game. There’s not a really good way to prepare for a game when something like that happens, and it showed.”

Burks and Robinson, both reportedly headed to the 76ers exchange for second-round picks in each of the next three drafts, said their goodbyes to teammates after the game.

This is the tough part of the sports business. In most instances, players are vulnerable to being uprooted. The Warriors, at least ownership and management, are willing to live with the short-term pain if it offers the possibility of long-term gain.

Burks, Cauley-Stein and Robinson were acquired with trade possibilities in mind. With Burks and Robinson moving on, it’s a clean sweep of the three veterans the Warriors signed last summer in the wake of the separations that left their roster looking nothing like the team that had spent five years terrorizing the NBA.

Even as conditions kept changing, the front office was determined to do something positive. They knew they would need more draft picks.

In the months before Kevin Durant announced he would be joining the Brooklyn Nets, the Warriors were deliberate in formulating two plans. Plan A if he stayed, Plan B if he left.

When KD ruptured his Achilles’ tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it was on to Plan C. That dialogue lasted two full days – until the moment Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6.

The Warriors then knew that, no matter KD’s decision, 2019-20 would be challenging season. They felt forced to, one week before the draft, scrap Plans A, B and C for Plans D and E.

Needing a wing, they drafted guard Jordan Poole in the first round. Needing a big man, they chose forward/center Alen Smailagic in the second. Needing a rookie capable of producing immediately, they jumped on forward Eric Paschall, who during a four-year collegiate career proved mature and talented.

Once the draft was completed, and the Durant-for-D’Angelo Russell sign-and-trade swap completed, it was on to the final step. Plan E. CEO Joe Lacob and president/general manager Bob Myers had to confront very real issues. How to make this season matter? How to push the franchise further into the future?

The Warriors scanned a list of free agents that might be available and over a four-day span ending on July 11 signed Cauley-Stein, Burks and Robinson to low-salary one-year deals. Cauley-Stein received slightly above the veteran’s minimum and also a second-year player option.

Current assets to be swapped for future assets, none was likely to spend a full season as a Warrior. If they put up decent numbers on a bad team, well, that could inflate their value just enough to make them attractive in trades.

And now, having posted those numbers, especially Burks and Robinson, they’re gone.

“It’s ruthless,” Paschall said. “They worked so hard. And everybody loves them. They’re two guys that the fans love, that coaches love, players respect so much and see all the work they put in throughout this whole season ... it hurts to see them go.”

It appeared late Wednesday night that Russell, also acquired as a potential trade chip, will remain a Warrior past the deadline. Though at least two teams expressed interest, neither stepped forward with a proposal the Warriors considered worthy.

[RELATED: How to watch NBC's deadline show]

They’re willing to wait until June to engage in discussions involving D-Lo. He’s a big-ticket item that should yield valuable assets for a Warriors franchise light on future draft picks.

When Cauley-Stein was traded to Dallas last month, he may as well have propped open the door for Burks and Robinson to follow. And if he didn’t, the Warriors surely did. At least figuratively.

In a season going nowhere, the Warriors are using what they have to get what they need. Just as they visualized last summer.

Warriors' gutty win over Celtics was banner moment for 73-win team

Warriors' gutty win over Celtics was banner moment for 73-win team

Programming note: The Warriors' 2015 win over the Boston Celtics will re-air on Saturday, April 4 at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

With Klay Thompson sidelined by a sprained right ankle and Harrison Barnes out with a sprained left ankle, the Warriors went limping into Boston with a perfect record but light on manpower and heavy on fatigue.

It was enough to give the Celtics, who had won four of their previous five games, reason for optimism on the morning of the game.

“We’re just playing good basketball right now,” Celtics forward Jae Crowder told reporters after shootaround. “I’m excited to keep it going for ourselves and our team. Like Brad [Stevens] said today, we’re just going to focus on ourselves. It comes down to us playing hard and protecting our homecourt.”

With the Celtics motivated to defend their homecourt against the defending champions and blemish their 23-0 mark, the Warriors -- playing under interim coach Luke Walton -- knew they’d have to offset those disadvantages with pride and pluck.

What they could not have known at tipoff on that December night is that these competing forces would produce perhaps the most riveting night of their 73-9 season.

A game compelling enough to be re-aired by NBC Sports Bay Area on Saturday afternoon at 4.

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The Warriors were proud of their perfection and determined to protect it. They were wading, however, into the deep end of treachery, playing the final two games of a seven-game, 14-day road trip on back-to-back nights. Rarely does the NBA inflict such cruelty upon its teams.

They prevailed. It took not one but two overtimes -- with 16 ties and 22 lead changes -- but they left Boston with a 124-119 victory and their 24-0 record still intact.

“Nothing was pretty about this game the whole time,” Stephen Curry told reporters at TD Garden. “We got stops and everybody contributed ... This is a huge win for us.”

Curry played 47 minutes and submitted a game-high 38 points, along with 11 rebounds and eight assists. He had eight turnovers and shot 9-of-27 from the field, including 6-of-13 from beyond the arc.

His teammates were splendid. Draymond Green totaled 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks over 50 minutes. Andre Iguodala had 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals over 44 minutes. Centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli produced 14 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks over a combined 51 minutes. Shaun Livingston came up with a crucial late-game block.

Still, it was a 58-minute marathon, with the Warriors outhustling the Celtics to record a 67-51 rebounding advantage and a 10-7 edge in steals.

“Now I can admit I’m tired,” Curry said.

The win was an important moment for those Warriors.

“We will definitely cherish this because it doesn’t happen often,” Bogut said. “The record, the history, the team -- it doesn’t happen often so we will cherish it.

“Who knows? Next year you could be on a different team and nobody’s talking about you.”

Bogut was indeed on another team the following season, part of the roster shakeup in the wake of acquiring coveted free agent Kevin Durant in July 2016

But the big man had a point. Savor these moments that take you to the loftiest of places, where no team has ever gone. Enjoy the ride because it won’t last.

The Warriors had been stacking wins, one after another, for more than five weeks. The schedule was bound to take a physical toll and the winning meant mounting mental pressure. Beating the Celtics put the Warriors nine wins from the NBA’s all-time longest streak of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

[RELATED: Remembering the Warriors' five most memorable playoff moments]

It required a Curry triple to give the Warriors the lead late with 46 seconds left in regulation, followed by a crucial Iguodala 3-ball in the first OT and a critical bucket from Livingston in the second OT. Neither team could pull away.

The Warriors kept at it until they found a way to beat a very good team under adverse conditions. Not one of their other 72 victories surpassed this one for pure perseverance.

Remembering Warriors' top playoff moments outside of NBA championships


Remembering Warriors' top playoff moments outside of NBA championships

The Warriors' six NBA championships are tied with the Chicago Bulls for the third-most in league history behind only the Boston Celtics (17) and Los Angeles Lakers (16). Those six instances obviously mark the pinnacle of Golden State's postseason success.


However, there have been numerous playoff moments throughout the franchise's history that didn't directly translate into a title -- or at least not right away.

That doesn't diminish their value. Some of the most memorable Warriors' playoff moments have occurred in non-championship seasons and were crucial in feeding the passion of the fan base. Until recently, so much of Golden State's history consisted of non-competitive seasons. Those occasional playoff memories gave fans hope that the dream of a championship was not unattainable.

From impressive individual performances to massive team achievements, there is no shortage of options to choose from. However, five non-championship moments stand out from the rest throughout Warriors' playoff history.