Processing the injury to Klay Thompson is hard enough, but when placed into the larger context of what it means for the immediate future of the Warriors, the outlook becomes even more bleak.
Put simply, it makes it hard to imagine the Warriors are going to get back to the heights they reached from 2014-2019, when they made five straight trips to the NBA Finals.
“This is something one could get very emotional about, that someone so gifted, won’t be able to share his gifts with the world for damn near three years it’s going to be,” Ethan Strauss of The Athletic said on KNBR regarding Thompson’s torn Achilles. “That’s awful. But there is this broader conversation about the team that people root for in the area.
“You don’t want to feel like you’re being too glib abut it and shifting to the bigger conversation, but the bigger conversation is that this dynasty is done. It’s over. It is. There are going to be a lot of hard conversations as to how to rebuild it and how long that’s going to be. Right now, the Warriors have three of the worst contracts in the NBA, there aren’t a lot of easy outs, and it will be a long time until they can approach to what they were.”
The three contracts in question are Thompson’s, Andrew Wiggins’ and Draymond Green’s, costing the team over $35 million, $29 million and $22 million respectively. Thompson’s and Green’s last through 2024, while Wiggins becomes a free agent in 2023.
“I just think this is so serious what’s happened to them. I mean they’re going to have to have some conversations that were unthinkable a short time ago. They’re going to have to talk to Steph at some point and say ‘Do you want to be here through the duration of this?’ And maybe he will. Maybe he wouldn’t be anywhere else, but it’s going to be a long road until they can get back to competing for titles again I think.”
Aside from a $19.2 million trade exception they must use before next Monday, there’s the taxpayer mid-level that will be around $5.9 million and the possibility of $9.3 disabled player exception available to them in the wake of Klay’s injury. The Warriors will need to spend that money wisely, as their roster is not close to championship level at the moment.
“They do not have a great roster after the top four. They could be really bad if they don’t start filling holes in the roster. There’s this other conversation, I doubt Joe (Lacob) is thinking this way at all, I doubt people listening to your program have the appetite for it after last season and how boring it was, but you do wonder if things start going south a little bit, if they pack it in. If you are going to do it in a season, maybe this is the season to do it.
“The next draft is very highly touted, with a number of athletic wings and potential superstars if you believe the scouts on it. The Warriors presently can’t get the top pick in that draft everybody seems to want because the Minnesota pick is top three protected. I’m not saying they tank, but maybe if you don’t think you can make the top end of the playoffs, there’s an element of it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if you miss the playoffs and have two lottery picks in one of the most hyped drafts in years.”