Warriors face critical offseason after brutal play-in loss to Kings

Warriors face critical offseason after brutal play-in loss to Kings originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

SACRAMENTO – After an earlier-than-expected end to their playoff aspirations, the Golden State Warriors are headed into what may their most critical offseason since the Steve Kerr era began nearly a decade ago.

Owner Joe Lacob, general manager Mike Dunleavy and Kerr are facing a number of legitimate and pivotal questions that will go a long way in determining the future of the franchise.

Clearly the most important decision to make is whether or not to bring back five-time All-Star Klay Thompson, whose contract with the Dubs officially ended with the team’s 118-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday in the play-in portion of the NBA postseason.

All indications are that a deal should get done. Thompson has previously stated his desire to remain with the only NBA team he’s suited up for while Kerr and several of Thompson’s teammates expressed their collective want to have him back.

That’s not the only issue that Golden State’s brass will have to address before next season, although Kerr is in no rush to deal with it all.

“It’s too early for me to even think about that,” Kerr told reporters at Golden 1 Center following the loss to the Kings. “You invest so much in the season and there’s so much that goes on. We’ve been really blessed here with amazing players and multiple championships and Finals appearances.

“This is life. This is how it works. You don’t get to stay on top forever.

“What happens this summer and going into next year, we’ll worry about that later. Right now I’m just thinking about our guys and how committed they were this year, the connection they had, the effort they put in to put us in a position to at least have a chance. We clearly weren’t good enough.”

Right behind the topic of Thompson will be whether the Warriors will retain Chris Paul or let the veteran point guard walk away. A 12-time All-Star and almost certainly a future Hall of Famer, Paul turns 39 next month and is on the books for $30 million next year, although it’s non-guaranteed.

“I hope and pray that he’s back and that I’m back,” Draymond Green said. “It’s been an honor having him as a teammate. Love going to war with guys like that.”

Others players on the roster may or not be back next season as well.

Gary Payton II has a player option for next season, while Dario Saric is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

The team also has a decision to make with Green. Green is already under contract but was suspended twice by the NBA this season and underwent counseling while he was out.

Are the Warriors willing to stick with Green in spite of the baggage that he brings, or will they determine that it’s time to move on?

Kerr also faces decisions that he’ll have to make from a coaching standpoint.

It’s obvious that the Big Three of Thompson, Green and Stephen Curry are in the latter stages of their Hall of Fame careers. The Warriors spent part of the 2023-24 season integrating younger players like Jonathan Kuminga, Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis into the mix, so it will be intriguing to see how much their individual roles increase next season.

“We asked a lot of BP, Trayce (and) JK took another big step in the right direction,” Curry said. “Hopefully they instilled some confidence in themselves that they can contribute and we’ll carry that momentum into the summer. Found some gems for sure. Just a matter of continuing to make the necessary adjustments.”

One thing that nearly everyone agrees upon is that the Warriors have to do something in order to stay competitive in the rough and rugged Western Conference.

Golden State finished the regular season this year with two more wins than it had last season, yet dropped from No. 6 and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs to play-in status this year.

“We’ve got an offseason where we’ve got a lot to think about, for sure,” Kerr said. “Every year you lose guys and bring new guys in. You just know that every year there’s going to be changes and that’s part of the business but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Golden State doesn’t own a first-round pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA draft. The Warriors’ only pick is late in the second round.

The team also has to decide how active it will be in free agency, an area where the Dubs could address some of the more pressing concerns that they have.

Regardless of what happens, Curry is confident that the Warriors will be legitimate contenders again for the 2024-25 season.

“Definitely frustrating, disappointing to say the least,” Curry said. “But you hold your head high knowing there’s a lot more in the tank. For me personally, that’s the mindset.

“We obviously understand the league has changed and we’re getting deeper into our careers and we have to continue to evolve and make the necessary adjustments to win games.”