Game 5 of the NBA Finals was a gut-punch to the Warriors with Kevin Durant rupturing his Achilles, even with the sensational win to force a Game 6. Knowing Durant would be out for a year hurts the NBA almost as much as the Warriors and possibly a New York or Eastern Conference franchise. However, not only losing Game 6 by four points AND losing Klay Thompson to a torn ACL in his left leg during the game basically cut a set of legs out from under the team, their depth and firepower on the court; literally and figuratively.
The Golden State Warriors are in an awful situation entering the offseason. Many people thought the Warriors would win the title, lose Kevin Durant to free agency, but keep Klay and add a few more players on to short contracts, possibly staying as a waning contender in the Pacific Division and Western Conference crowns. A lot of people didn’t see as frightening a situation such as this though. These are the situations the Bay area franchise will now have to deal with:
- the one that everyone knows to be fact at this point: moving from Oakland and Oracle Arena to San Francisco and a brand new stadium. Oakland fans are hurt by this, and the new home will be something the Warriors have to get used to fast.
- Kevin Durant at the moment will have to decide if he can work with the Warriors on a sign-and-trade agreement, which would allow the Warriors to sign him for 5 years and $57 million more for a max deal. The Warriors would allow Durant to rest as they make sure everything’s paid for and he gets to choose where he’d want to be traded to in return for that team’s assets and picks. While it is a win-win, the Warriors won’t have him for this upcoming season, and will be without another star player.
- Klay Thompson’s free agency offseason is going to be a mess. While there probably won’t be a sign-and-trade, the Warriors need their other star guard to get back onto the court, which won’t happen until the end of next year’s regular season (at the soonest, IF they make it that far into the race for the playoffs). Another issue which at may have been considered to some a solution would’ve been if Klay sat out for the year while the Warriors rebuild their depth, that way there’s a team when he comes back. Yet if the Warriors go forward with this sign-and-trade idea with Durant, then that is unlikely. Thompson will stay with the Warriors but it could be a what-if effect with the timing of the injuries to him and KD.
- Lack of depth; the biggest issue and the one that could hurt this team the most is the depth the Warriors once had has evaporated in a five year span. With the possibilities of Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala retiring, Andrew Bogut, Jonas Jerebko, Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell and DeMarcus Cousins probably leaving due to them hitting free agency and Kevon Looney probably out for a year as well with multiple injuries suffered in the playoffs (he’s also an unrestricted free agent) the Warriors will have to rebuild from every possible position. The draft has passed and the added players for Golden State will help a little, but there will probably be two or maximum three starters returning and almost no possible backup unless there are players signed on smaller contracts. This will be a rough free-agent period for the Warriors as they’ll probably miss out on valuable players of every position.
- Stephen Curry’s health, which may not sound like it could be a factor at first, but could be looming by mid-season. If Curry and Draymond Green are the only returning starters next season (and this is with rookies and almost an entirely new squad which may be subpar), there will be more pressure on Steph to score and be the offense more than he’s had to since the turn of last decade. He still is prone to injuring his legs, especially the ankles. Should the Warriors be out of contention by next year’s All-Star weekend break, it’d be best to deactivate Curry and Green for the remainder of the seasons, because the risks for both being injured with the workload put on them is greater than before.
- Other issues that some people haven’t thought of before: both Matt Barnes’ and David West’s contracts remain on the books because they haven’t been renounced after going unsigned in 2018-19, per Hoopsrumors.com. This means they can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal. Shaun Livingston’s salary of over $5 million as of right now (since it’s before June 30th before this was published) is non-guaranteed. However, it takes effect on the 30th fully guaranteed.
It’s entirely possible that Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and the remaining free agents and star players find some ground to work with and compromise in order to gain a fresh face or two and more depth. Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston could postpone retirement another season because of how overwhelming these issues are to the franchise. Taking all of these what-if’s into account, the Golden State Warriors don’t have enough firepower as they did even before they won a championship and they most certainly have a lot of obstacles, new and old to face.