Now that the dust has cleared on the NBA Finals, the question of “what’s next for the Warriors” can be asked?
First thing the Warriors will do is focus on re-signing their top two free agents. According to reports, it looks like Klay Thompson will be back with the Warriors. Even though, Thompson could miss the bulk, if not all, of next season shouldn’t come into play. The Warriors have already indicated that they will offer Thompson the max.
Kevin Durant is a different story. Sure, Golden State plans on offering him the max despite Durant being slated to miss next season. The question is, will Durant accept it? Teams bidding for KD’s services will happily offer him the same assurances. They will offer the max, which will be lower than what Golden State can offer, in hopes that he’ll be looking for a new start.
At one time, reports seem to indicate that Durant along with Kyrie Irving would be heading to the New York Knicks. That talk has all but died. Durant could opt-out and head right back to the Warriors or another destination. It looks like the Knicks won’t even get Irving as rumors having, the former LeBron James sidekick, signing with Brooklyn.
Whether or not Durant and Thompson re-sign with Golden State, next season will look different than the last few. The Warriors aren’t the overwhelming favorite to win the championship. Though most think the Warriors will take a step back, it would be a stretch to think they won’t make the playoffs. Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green is a solid start. Expect the Warriors to make a strong play to retain Kevon Looney. If this happens, you might see Golden State play a slightly different style but they still have enough to be the better team on the floor.
If you look at the Western Conference non-playoff teams and ask who could make it next season, there are three teams that come to mind. The team to start with is the Los Angeles Lakers. Rob Pelinka and the Laker brass finally got a star to go next to James. The Lakers have acquired, although not official yet, Anthony Davis for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first round picks including this year’s 4th overall. In some sportsbooks, that instantly made the Lakers the favorite to win the NBA Championship. There’s still work to be done though. Even though, some in Los Angeles believe not including Kyle Kuzma in the deal is a big win, they will still need to find more perimeter shooting.
Right behind them would be the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Kings are a young team on the rise. If they take the “next step” then they could be competing for the 6-8 spot. Minnesota needs to cut down on the drama and play ball. If they do that, they could be in play for the 8th spot. All of this could impact where Golden State finishes.
Next season will give Golden State a chance to give the likes of Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell, and Alfonzo McKinnie minutes. They need to see what they have and if it’s enough to help the Warriors make a run when Durant and Thompson return. If the supporting group develops, the Warriors could be back in play for a title in two years. If not, we will be stuck to asking the questions “What’s Next”?