After five straight races to the NBA Finals, injuries and rebuilding the roster forced the Warriors into a gap year.
The rest and recalibration were welcome after half a decade of fighting in the most intense arena the game has offered. A year before the title fight was okay. It was clear that two years as a championship after the fact, the proud champions were screwed up.
Draymond Green was neither interested nor motivated by the NBA play-in tournament. Only Steph Curry’s legendary run in the Los Angeles Lakers clash seemed to fuel him in the same way as championship races of the past.
Curry was sensational when he returned to the stage. But the team around him was nothing like those who helped him lead five consecutive races in the final. Green was always a defensive wrecking ball and game maven, but his scoring ability has waned in recent years, which he knows he has to return next season.
Klay Thompson spent his second straight season in formal attire, watching his Splash Brother take on doubles, triples and quads with inconsistent offensive help from those around him.
The Warriors’ season ended in a disappointing way. After a heartbreaking loss to the Lakers in Game Seven, they returned home to the Chase Center and were bounced back by Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, sending them rushing into a critical offseason.
Green has said he will be involved in the Warriors’ offseason plans. There is no doubt that Curry will be asked to comment as well. Anything that allows him to breathe would be welcome.
Curry and Green are champions and legends. They showed patience as they battled through a season with a different set of players, most of whom weren’t shaped by the championship cauldron. But with Curry at 33 and Green and Thompson both at 31, they know their title window and prime numbers are shrinking.
The shadows are longer than they have ever been. The sun is setting, and the Warriors know it’s important to do all they can to help Curry, Green, and Thompson ward off the night for as long as possible.
“I guess, I think or at least I know in my conversations with them, that they know we want to win,” basketball operations president Bob Myers said in his end-of-season press conference on Monday. . “I think we’ve earned that trust over time with them, and they know we’ll do whatever we can. And clearly, with what our owner has spent, it’s obvious he wants to win too. , how do you get there, right? I think there are a lot of players in the NBA who want to feel like they’re getting the most out of their roster, and obviously these guys do too. But that’s not controversial. , it’s not, ‘You should have done this or that’ or ‘We have to do this, I didn’t like that’.
“I met Steph for an hour on Saturday, I met Draymond for only an hour and a half earlier. When you had the chance to do what we did, you don’t rest on your laurels. ., but you have fairness in those relationships. It’s like working with someone for 10 years. If anything makes sense, you’re gonna succeed together and you fail together. These guys we can call it whatever you want, but we’ve had great success, and we’ve had great disappointment. Everyone wants to win, and the point is that as long as they think we’re trying to do it, then everyone is going well. I “I never had a conversation with either of these guys, even in the last couple of days where they said, ‘You better do this or we should have done it. “.
“It’s just now how the relationship works, but at the same time I can initiate it and say, ‘Maybe I should have done this.’ And that’s why you have a situation where you have the same players in an organization now, which is almost impossible now where you get one like Steph for 10 or 12 or 15 years, or Draymond or Klay, they all want to leave or go. . So, it’s a testimony to having lived it with someone. But that doesn’t mean anyone is happy right now. We don’t want to be sitting here watching the playoffs. “
It’s hard to characterize this season for the Warriors.
They had one of the top three MVP contenders for Curry and one of the top three Defensive Player of the Year contenders for Green. They arrived in the home stretch, a level of play that Steve Kerr said was no accident.
And yet, they didn’t make the playoffs. Even if they had, they weren’t a realistic title threat.
In a sense, the Warriors’ growth as a unit was encouraging and, in some ways, successful. But to miss the playoffs entirely in a year when Curry was arguably the best player on the planet is an incredibly hard pill to swallow.
So, the Warriors’ off-season quest to keep the long night at bay begins.
Expect Myers to make countless moves, with bringing Curry, Green, and Thompson back to championship contender status the only goal that matters.
And expect at least two of the top three players to have significant contributions to the nature of these movements.
“The guy was never involved,” Myers said with a chuckle, referring to Green saying he would be involved in the Warriors offseason. “He’s not able to not be involved. Which I appreciate and encourage. And Steph and Klay. Klay isn’t that involved because that’s not how he thinks so much. But I’ll tell you Draymond and Steph never said it – and we like this partnership. I mean these guys are more important than me. Their opinions matter. They’re harder to find than anyone. like me. So I like to weigh them in. We just spoke half an hour ago and he has some thoughts and opinions, which are great.
“[Green’s] very smart, Steph too. Welcome to that. I always have and always will be. “
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Twenty-three months ago, the Warriors played their fifth straight NBA Finals with a hat-trick in sight. In the broad sense of time, it is not a long absence. But in terms of an NBA star’s bounty and the quest to build a legacy, two years is a life.
Patience and confidence are virtues, but the sand drains from the hourglass of warriors and it cannot be filled.
Myers, Kerr and the Warriors know they can’t let another year of Curry, Green and Thompson go by without giving them everything they need to fight before the sun sets on the last local championship core of the NBA.
Curry, Green and Thompson know there is more time behind them than in front. They will fight, like all great athletes, to avoid Father’s time for as long as possible, believing that they can keep the sun from disappearing beyond the horizon.
But they will need the help of the warriors to avoid the long night for as long as possible.