Stephen Curry remains great Draymond Green likely to be back

Stephen Curry remains great, Draymond Green likely to be back but Warriors need to change behavior – CBS Sports

With the chance to force a Game 7 against the Lakers, the Golden State Warriors were left completely ruffled in Los Angeles on Friday night. Your season is over. Your future is in question.

Bad games happen. But this whole series, actually this whole season, paints a pretty clear picture of a team in relative decline. Take what it’s worth. The Warriors were so awesome that even a stripped down version can be a contender in most landscapes. But they need to change their approach.

Essentially, the Warriors have operated in perma-cool mode for the past decade. Flip a million times? What ever. Digging 20 point deficits? Who cares. They knew they were so much better than the competition and had so many aces up their sleeves that none of it mattered. And they were right.

This isn’t that team anymore. The edges are important. You can’t lose the free throw fight by a zillion. You can’t toggle the sloppy switch on and off. I can’t forget how to play on the go. Steve Kerr can’t bring himself to pick and roll only in the fourth quarter—specifically, at the end of the fourth quarter—of Game 1 because it’s a feel-out game and he doesn’t have Anthony Davis in 24 picks -and-rolls in the first half of Game 4 and then basically gives up the only action that works in the second half. Just one of those games could have given the Warriors victory in that series. But the Lakers got both.

Here, too, the margins are narrower now. This game on Friday was over in the first five minutes. The Warriors peaked at No. 17 before they even thought to shed their cool jacket and show up. Too late. It does not work anymore. Cutting the lead to five at the end of the first quarter was a mirage. This game was basically over when it started. I sent this tweet before the first quarter was over.

Klay Thompson has been off the field 14 of 56 in the last four games of that series, including 3 of 19 in the closing stages. Stephen Curry missed 31 of his last 37 three-pointers in the series. Jordan Poole was a disaster by LA Fitness standards. After dominating Game 5 with his pace and offensive aggression, Draymond Green was a handy non-factor in Game 6. It’s just not there every night anymore, neither for Green nor for the team as a whole. The shots that used to save them no longer always come, especially in the form of barrages.

“To be fair, I think that team played to its maximum in the end,” Kerr said after the Game 6 loss. “We barely made the playoffs for most of this year… This isn’t a championship team.”

I thought Kerr was wrong about a lot of the decisions he made against the Lakers, but he’s right. These Warriors weren’t a championship team. We just gave them all a shot at the name.

Big decisions await (and we don’t even know who will make them since Bob Myers may be gone), but chances are the core of this squad will remain intact for at least another season. Thompson has a year left on his $43 million contract and it sounds like Green is coming back, too.

From Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Controlling owner Joe Lacob must give the green light to all financial decisions. In the past, he has shown he is uncomfortable with letting the combined payroll and tax burden soar to over $400 million. If everyone is retained, including Green, who has a $27.6 million player option, it will go well beyond that.

But Lacob is thirsty for titles and this season the front office has been reminded yet again of Green’s indispensable value in that quest. If you lose green, you probably lose any realistic path to that ultimate goal.

As a result, the Warriors intend to discuss a new multi-year deal with Green, either via an opt-in and renewal or an entirely new deal after an opt-out, sources on the matter tell The Athletic. Green has influence: He is expected to be pursued by several playoff teams when he enters the open market, sources added. But both Green and the Warriors appear intent on discussing extending their partnership if the price is right. He just finished his 11th season with the franchise.

Bringing Green back is the right move. He made all-defense again this season and remains a huge difference maker. Despite being in the tank against the Lakers, Thompson led the league by 3 points in the regular season. Andrew Wiggins is locked up. Moses Moody showed real promise. Jonathan Kuminga, who was relegated to trash time against LA, has a big step to make next year but he too is showing promise.

But even with many of the same faces in the building (which will result in a luxury tax bill that could choke a hippopotamus), the days when these were “the same old warriors” are clearly a thing of the past.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t compete for titles in the future. If you have Stephen Curry, you have a chance. But the way it’s currently set up (basically), that’s all this team has. A chance. Probably an easy one. No different than any other good team on paper with a great player.

You have to start playing like this. Like a team that has to win the margins. Watch out for the ball. Stop fouling like crazy people. Gone are the days when even a great player like Curry could be relied upon to put on his cloak and brush aside any mistakes. The Warriors’ collective willingness to accept this and adjust their approach accordingly will determine what they can be in the future.