Golden State Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers spoke at length with reporters on Monday, covering a range of topics, including Stephen Curry’s looming contract extension, Klay Thompson’s return timetable and whether James Wiseman carries more value as a trade chip or core contributor within the immediate championship-chasing timeline.
That and more, here are the key takeaways from Myers’ interview.
1. Curry expected to sign extension
If any other player the caliber of Curry were entering the walk year of his contract with an unsigned extension hanging in the air, the fanbase’s collective anxiety would be buzzing with every report that trickled out.
But this has never become a story. The assumption has always been that Curry, despite entering the back end of his prime and being on the clock to re-enter title contention, wouldn’t dream of leaving Golden State after all he’s built there. Indeed, Bob Myers said he is “pretty confident” that the team will be able to come to terms with Curry, who is eligible to sign a four-year, $215 million extension this summer that would keep him with Golden State through 2025-26.
“I don’t see any reason not to be optimistic,” Myers said Monday. “He seems like he’s motivated, we’re motivated. I would say pretty confident we’ll get something done.”
With Curry’s anticipated extension in mind, Myers expressed the organization’s urgency to surround Curry with a championship-caliber team while he’s still at peak level.
“When you’re lucky enough to fall into a player like that, in my position, I think you owe it to them to try to win,” Myers said. “Those people don’t come along too often with that kind of talent that [Steph] obviously has. So for the last 10 years, that’s what we’ve been trying to do is give him a team that he can win a championship with. … We want to win. Our payroll is not a payroll that would reflect any type of rebuilding. It’s a payroll that’s trying to win a championship. That’s how we’re going to approach it.”
If Curry does re-up on another max deal with Golden State, he would become the first player in history to sign multiple $200 million contracts, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
2. No plans to trade Wiseman
So if Myers and the Warriors are committed to maximizing Curry’s remaining peak window, it begs the question: What do they do with Wiseman? They Warriors rave about Wiseman and his future potential, but as we clearly saw after he went down with a torn meniscus in early April, they are significantly better without him right now.
If the Warriors were to trade Wiseman, they would do so to bring back a player, or players, more capable of helping them in the short term at the expense of whatever value they feel Wiseman represents as a future cornerstone. So far, Myers says they have no intention of trading the 2020 No. 2 overall pick. They believe Wiseman is ready, or will be ready by next season, to help a championship-caliber team. Either that, or they don’t feel his trade value is high enough to warrant a deal.
Take this with a grain of salt. When the Warriors brought in D’Angelo Russell, they said they weren’t looking to trade him either. Then they traded him. Wiseman is a tougher call than Russell, who was never going to fill the Warriors’ most glaring holes and was a bad fit with Curry. In theory, Wiseman gives the Warriors the scoring, athletic big man they lack, and at 20 years old with minimal meaningful basketball experience, there’s no way to really tell what he might become.
Still, reward doesn’t come without risk. You have to make some tough calls to win championships. Almost no team pulls off the balancing act of chasing titles and building for the future at the same time. If Golden State ends up having to choose a path, it remains entirely plausible that Wiseman and/or Golden State’s two potential 2021 lottery picks end up somewhere else.
3. Thompson will ease his way back
Everyone got excited when John Wall and Kevin Durant came back this season after torn Achilles’ and looked pretty much like their old selves, but Wall was afforded 23 months to recover and Durant had 18 months. When the 2021-22 season kicks off, Thompson will be less than a year — about 11 months, to be exact — removed from his torn Achilles. Myers said he doesn’t think it’s “realistic” to expect Thompson back that soon, in any capacity, let alone in his best form.
“What we’re focused on is when can we expect Klay to be Klay,” Myers said. “I don’t know if that will be January, February, March. It’s too early to say.”
Other than Thompson’s projected timeline, the biggest takeaway from Myers’ comments on Klay’s return was that he knows the Warriors can’t stand pat and assume the reintegration of Curry’s Splash Bro will, on its own, be enough to return the team to title contention. That said, Myers did make it clear just how big an addition Thompson, in combination with Curry and Green, will be.
4. Warriors will pursue veterans, shooting
Knowing the return of Thompson won’t be enough, the Warriors, short of pulling off a major trade, will be looking to add to their roster on the margins. They don’t have much to work with. Their 2021-22 payroll could choke a hippo. They have zero salary-cap space and will be paying a fortune in luxury taxes. They can add some combination of one or two lottery picks with minimum contacts or a mid-level exception. Whatever route they take, Myers detailed the areas he’ll be looking to address in free agency.
“It’s guys that maybe can stretch the floor. Maybe a shooting big, maybe a playmaking guard. … Maybe some more offense-minded guys,” Myers said. “The shooting is interesting because with [Kent] Bazemore, and hopefully we’ll get him back, but with Juan [Toscano-Anderson] and even Jordan [Poole] and [Mychal] Mulder, we had some decent shooting. But you can always use more.
“… Offensively, how Steph was being guarded, it’s not fair to him almost,” Myers added. “One guy can’t do that much. It’s a compliment to him, clearly, that he got the attention he got. But that’s very hard and a lot to ask of him to shoulder that burden by himself. So we need to help him on the offensive side a little bit.”
As for what caliber of player the Warriors might be able to attract without big money to offer, the hope is that with Thompson back in the fold, players around the league will once again see them as a championship destination and perhaps be willing to sacrifice money and/or role for that kind of opportunity.
5. Green’s offseason focus
Draymond Green had a phenomenal 2020-21 season and showed he’s still one of the premier defensive players in the league. He also sparkled as a playmaker on the offensive end, finishing tied for fourth in assists at 8.9 per game, the same number as Chris Paul. Green took full advantage of defenses, sending two and sometimes three players at Curry by picking them apart on the back end. He was Golden State’s effective point guard.
He also averaged just seven points per game, his lowest total since his second season in the league.
It’s a problem because for all Green’s playmaking savvy, defenses continue to leave him wide open at the 3-point line. That clogs up other areas with a free defender essentially roaming, and that’s without mentioning the stunted momentum of possessions when Green passes on shots that are supposed to be taken within the flow of the offense.
Green plans on working on his shooting this offseason and coming into next season with a more aggressive scoring mindset — at least to keep defenses honest, if not to get back somewhere close to his 2015-16 form when he shot just under 39 percent from 3-point territory and was a genuine threat.
6. Oubre will have to accept bench role
We don’t know if Kelly Oubre will be back. He’s a free agent and he’s publicly expressed that he sees himself as a starter. That could be a problem, because Steve Kerr has already said that if Oubre does return to Golden State, it will be in a bench role.
Oubre was good in stretches for the Warriors this season, and horrendous in others. All told, the Warriors were plus-6.3 points per 100 possessions when he was off the court, according to Cleaning the Glass, and minus-5.0 when he was on. Do the math, and Oubre being on the floor cost the Warriors 11.3 points per 100 possessions. Not good.
The Warriors will need a spot starter as Thompson eases his way back into the lineup. That could be Oubre. It could be Kent Bazemore. It could be Jordan Poole. It could be a player not currently on the roster. Would Oubre accept spot starts? It could well depend on what other offers he gets. His value on the market is tough to gauge, but surely athletic wings who can score and defend are going to be, to varying degrees, in demand.
What’s interesting is the Warriors knew how they viewed Oubre, for the most part, heading into March’s trade deadline. If they knew he wasn’t going to be a starter for them next season and had a good idea that Oubre probably wasn’t going to be happy with that, why didn’t they trade him for an asset or at least to open up a salary spot this offseason?
Oubre can help as an energy player off the bench. But with what he could cost, considering the tax implications, is he worth it? It’s the same question the Warriors asked themselves when they signed Oubre in the first place. There still isn’t a clear answer.