For the Warriors, life without Klay Thompson for the second straight season begins Thursday as the team announced the star shooting guard tore his right Achilles and is expected to miss the entire season.
With Thompson out, the Warriors' plans to vault back into title contention have taken a massive hit. Now, they must find a way to fill the hole left by Thompson. NBA free agency is set to begin Friday, but it, unfortunately, is one of the weakest shooting guard classes in recent memory.
So, who should the Warriors target to slide into the backcourt next to Steph Curry? Former Warrior and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Chris Mullin has some ideas.
"The advantage the Warriors have is that you are plugging these players into a really good team even without Klay," Mullin said on "Dubs Talk." "You got Steph, Draymond, you got your center. So you have some flexibility. ... You talked about Avery Bradley. I like that a lot. Ironically, Will Barton didn't play in the bubble because of injury. Avery Bradley opted out. Is that something where he's kind of on the outside looking in with the Lakers and he's looking for a new team and all of a sudden that team is the Warriors and they have a starting spot available?"
The Warriors reportedly are expected to be one of many contenders hoping to lure Bradley away from the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, and their taxpayer midlevel exception could be enough to bring him to the Bay.
But Bradley isn't the only one Mullin has his eyes on.
"They were looking for wings anways. [Kelly] Oubre is a really good player. He's got length. He can score it. He plays beautiful in transition. His 3-point shot is solid. He's a slasher. The guy can play one through three and on a given night a pick-and-pop four. He's a guy who I think will be right there in consideration."
If neither of the top options are realistic, there could be some more bargain-basement solutions, including a trio of former Warriors.
Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks, Kent Bazemore and Austin Rivers all are possible options who could be brought in for somewhere between the mid-level exception and the minimum salary. Mullin sees potential in some of the lower-tier options.
"[Bazemore] is similar to Oubre. Not as accomplished offensively. Not as big, not as athletic but in the same type of mold and very familiar here," Mullin said. "[Rivers] played in big games. I don't think [Houston] was the system for [Rivers] to play in. He's more of a slasher. Shoot an open three. Don't shoot all threes. That whole Houston experiment it became crazy. If you walked in the arena, you were shooting threes. ... I think he's a good player. He's got nice size. A little more balance back to his game. He played the Warriors tough. He's one of those guys that if he's on the other team you don't like him and if he's on your team then, 'Yeah, go piss them off."
Obviously, one player can't replace Thompson. He was at the peak of his basketball powers when he tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals and now will miss his age 29 and age 30 season while rehabbing two devastating injuries.
But the Warriors still have plans to return to relevance with Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman. Now, they have a hole to fill at shooting guard. One they never expected to have to fill.