The Warriors have gotten used to being the 'hunted' over the last half-decade.
Over the span, the rest of the NBA has been in an arms race to catch them, to no avail. With Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, achieved the greatest five year run in NBA history.
Now - after the 2019 NBA Finals loss to the Raptors crippled of Durant and Klay Thompson - the rest of the league is primed to permanently end the dynasty.
The latest example comes out of Los Angeles, where the Lakers - who will open their preseason against the Warriors Oct. 5 in to open San Francisco's Chase Center - have traded for superstar Pelicans big man Anthony Davis, shipping out Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the number four pick in Thursday's draft. More intriguing, the team could have between $27 and $32 million in cap space combined with a free agency pool that includes Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker.
Since 2014, the Warriors have grown accustomed to arms races against them. Most notably the Houston Rockets - admittedly obsessed with the Warriors - who traded for Chris Paul in 2017 to achieve common footing. More recently - with James out of the Eastern Conference - Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri traded for Kawhi Leonard, a move that ultimately dethroned the Warriors two days ago.
However, the Lakers' move comes at a unique time of peril in Golden State. Entering free agency, their two top targets - Durant and Thompson - will enter 2019-20 season expected to sit out at least half the season with major rehabilitation timetables. With both players expected to command maximum salary slots, the Warriors will enter next season - if both decide to re-sign - with two top players on the bench and little cap space to get better.
It's appropriate the Lakers are the first team this summer to make a move toward championship consideration. For the last half-century, the franchise was everything the Warriors dynasty currently is. A healthy, star driven franchise that's had the likes of George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant donning its colors, helping the franchise win 15 titles. However, since 2013, the franchise hasn't reached the postseason, building a reputation for more off-court drama than on-court wins. Two months ago, Johnson - the team's Vice President of Basketball Operations - abruptly stepped down before the team's final regular season game, citing trust issues with general manager Rob Pelinka.
Now - with the addition of Davis - the Lakers could be back to contending for titles. With its cap-space, they can bring at least one more near max player on the roster.
As for the Warriors, more questions linger. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney will be free agents and the team will have to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to second-year big man Jordan Bell. Worse, of the players with all-star experience, only Stephen Curry and Draymond Green will be expected full participants when training camp opens in September.
Following Thursday's elimination, Draymond Green said it wouldn't be smart to count out the Warriors, citing their championship pedigree. Time will tell whether his words will ring true, but as the Lakers proved Saturday afternoon, the rest of the league is coming for their crown out West.