Delusional optimism is an important part of fandom
Warriors face a Sixers team that just lost Embiid, because things are tough all over
The NBA trade deadline is just one day away, and it’s not yet clear if the Golden State Warriors are going to make a move or not. Reportedly, there’s no pressure from the front office to cut salary just to save money, so any move is (hopefully) one that will improve the team’s current on-court product.
The Warriors could use the help now, as they continue their ongoing fight to keep the dynasty alive. In keeping with the theme of this season unfortunately, it looks like one step forward and two steps back. Andrew Wiggins is expected to return tonight from his rolled ankle, and Gary Payton is finally back at practice after missing 14 games due to a hamstring. There’s no timeline for Payton’s return as of yet. As previously mentioned, there’s some back stepping as well - Draymond Green was listed as questionable late yesterday afternoon.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (22-25) at Philadelphia 76ers (30-19)
WHEN: Wednesday, February 7, 2024 // 4:30pm PDT
WATCH: NBCSBA / ESPN
Here comes the trade deadline
Shams Charania has his finger on the pulse of the rumor mill, and he seems to think that no deal is especially close.
"The Mavericks and Pacers are two teams, I'm told, that are expressing interest in Wiggins to keep an eye on," Charania said. "I don't think they're going to just move guys to move guys. The Warriors need true reasons if they're going to trade whether it's a Wiggins, Klay Thompson, a Chris Paul."
Golden State is certainly out there working the phones, but this far down the chain, there are only so many parts around that would be enough to move the needle. Or at least, the crossover portion of the Venn diagram that the Warriors would be willing to trade, and those that have enough value to make a trade that improves the team is extremely thin.
So sure, maybe they drop someone like Cory Joseph - who’s been played out of the rotation by Brandin Podziemski - but there’s not much return there. Chris Paul is technically available, but even his huge expiring contract, is unlikely to entice any team to part with a player good enough to meaningfully bump their way into coach Steve Kerr’s depth chart.
Jonathan Kuminga played his way into a trade target, and then beyond. It would take a lot to pry the burgeoning young talent away from a Warriors franchise that has been desperate for a young player to develop like he has.
And so. The Warriors are looking at a well worn shelf of established assets. Klay Thompson has been noticeably struggling. Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins are both having their worst seasons in recent memory, so are the most frequent names to appear in trade rumors. But would the front office really pull that trigger unless the deal was lopsided? These are the veterans that have won here. To swing them away for anything less than a game changer will be a bitter pill to swallow. And more, it might not even make basketball sense. Are there really teams out there champing at the bit to acquire Looney or Wiggins? Enough so that they’d be offering legitimate assets?
There’s definitely no omelette to be made - not without breaking some eggs that the Warriors are extremely reluctant to risk losing.
Always believe, it's kinda the point
The Warriors heave dealt with injuries, suspension(s), and the harsh reality of a league that has caught up to the aging, expensive core. Klay Thompson’s laid back boater dude veneer has been worn thin by the pressures of trying to stay elite. At this point, it has turned into a battle just to stay relevant. He’s shooting career lows both from the field (41.5%) and from three-point range (37.4%) - an especially challenging struggle for a player who has made a career out of jacking up a bunch of shots.
But man… there have been so many miracles from this core. Not just Thompson - though he’s had his share of heroics. There’s the iconic 37-point quarter. The numerous nights of a nuclear one-two punch knocking opponents into a Splash Brother-induced coma. Game 6 Klay?!
Klay Thompson has magic. And I personally don’t want to give that up.
If you haven’t seen it, the exchange between Thompson and Anthony Slater (with some random contributions from Draymond Green) is mandatory viewing. It’s heart-wrenching. Look at Klay’s face here as he responds with “Are you kidding me? Of course it’s hard.”
This team is far from elite. The shine worn off by the relentless sands of time. For me, it’s hard to separate the emotions - and I think that is sort of the point of sports fandom. Putting the fanatic forward and wearing our personal preferences. Rooting for our guys, even when they fail. Maybe even moreso then?
But the Warriors aren’t out of the playoffs yet. Sure, the team has struggled this season, but players and teams have put it all together on much shorter timelines than the one still in front of Golden State. Even if not this year, couldn’t Thompson (at a discount) still stick around and be valuable for a few seasons in a Kyle Korver sort of role? All he would need is for the next generation of players to be ready to steal his minutes.
None of this is gentle. But it could still work out.
Thankfully, I don’t have to internally wrestle with some sort of bonkers deals that costs the Warriors Thompson, Kuminga, and say Chris Paul - but returns Giannis or Luka. That might be a rough choice. But any combination of the core for someone like LeBron James? Hard pass. I’m allowed to not want that. Dub Nation is allowed to not want that.
Sure, there’s probably a deal or two out there that cuts deep and doesn’t immedeately return results. Dumping Klay’s contract - or Looney or Wiggins - could do something. Get super crazy, pair them with someone line Kuminga and I bet a desperate team out there might be willing to dump a bunch of meaningful assets at Golden State. But for me, that’s just not what I’m here for.
Deeeeeeeefinitely not here for anything like this.
Look, I know this season has been hard. The path to success is so slender, Kevin Durant’s ankles look like whale bones. But believe. Stay that way untill it’s no longer possible.
This core may not have many miracles left, but just like the end of a fireworks show: even when it’s clear that it’s coming to a close, you should stay to watch all the way to the end. You never know.