We knew there was a good chance that the Golden State Warriors, who have won three of the last five titles, would look much different going into next season with the looming free agency of two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant and All-Star Klay Thompson along with DeMarcus Cousins likely not coming back after taking the mid-level exception last offseason to play for the team.
And then the NBA Finals happened and Kevin Durant tore his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore his ACL and we knew things would in fact be different this season, regardless of free agent decisions. Then on day one of free agency Kevin Durant made his intentions clear as he decided to leave the Bay Area after just three seasons for the Brooklyn Nets and with Durant gone and Thompson set to miss at least a good chunk of next season as he recovers from that torn ACL after re-signing with the team on a max five-year deal, the Warriors were left needing to make some moves to be a contending team this upcoming season.
With Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala left as the main pieces from the original Warriors championship team in 2015, at least of players that are going to be active at the start of last season, where would the Warriors turn?
Well on the first day of free agency rumors started coming out that they might be interested in a sign-and-trade that involved them sending Durant to the Nets and involved D’Angelo Russell coming in. That’s what eventually ended up happening, so instead of losing Durant for nothing, the Warriors were able to get something in return for one of the top players in the league.
On top of that they also traded Andre Iguodala, who had been a cornerstone of the franchise since he joined the Warriors. That was a move that had to be made however if they were going to trade for D’Angelo Russell because it would’ve been too expensive.
This deal sent waves through NBA Twitter because the Warriors dynasty had just officially had the dagger put in it, but then with the acquisition of Russell, it will give them a lot more firepower and it should help take a lot of the offensive pressure away from Steph Curry.
It will be an interesting fit because Russell is a ball-dominant player so one would assume that Steph will be playing off the ball a lot more than he normally does when Russell is on the floor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because Curry is so good at playing off the ball, but both will likely have to adjust the way they play at least a little bit.
Now the Warriors did bring back a key piece of their team from last season in Kevon Looney and I think they got him on a very team-friendly deal as he signed a three-year, $15 million deal, so that was a good guy to bring back.
Then today they made a really nice pickup in my opinion, picking up former Kings center Willie-Cauley Stein. Cauley-Stein wanted out of Sacramento despite being a restricted free agent, so it was likely that even if the Kings matched an offer sheet they were going to trade him, but they ended up renouncing his rights, making him an unrestricted free agent and that’s where Golden State swooped in and picked him up.
Shaun Livingston had his non-guaranteed date moved back to later this month, but he is likely going to be back on the Warriors this upcoming season, which is a nice guy to bring back if you’re Golden State.
Overall though Golden State is going to look a lot different this season. Not only do they have some key guys missing with Durant moving on and with Thompson sitting out most of next season as he rehabs his injury. But not only will they look different in terms of some of the key players on the floor, but their style of play is going to need to be adjusted and it will be interesting to see how Steve Kerr adjusts.
Golden State hardly has any money to spend, but it could also be conceivable that they bring back DeMarcus Cousins because they still have the part of the taxpayer mid-level exception to use and there appears to be no market for him and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has said so.
Rumors have also been out there that D’Angelo Russell could be traded so the Warriors could acquire more assets to give themselves some flexibility. That leak makes me think it will happen eventually, but we will have to wait and see if he plays all of this season in Golden State or if he is traded shortly after becoming eligible to be traded.
Whatever they decide to do with Russell, the Warriors will look much different this season and it will be fascinating to see how the third iteration of the Golden State Warriors look.
Top Photo: Mary Altaffer/Associated Press