The Golden State Warriors have had a dreamlike 2021-22 season. After two seasons due to injuries, the Warriors ended up winning the 2022 NBA Finals and Stephen Curry finally got his Finals MVP trophy.
Not only that, but the team finally brought Klay Thompson back to the field after the shooter missed two entire seasons due to injury. Golden State has also had breakout years for some actors, helping them get paydays.
While the Warriors will bring back most of the championship core in 2022-23 after a relatively quiet offseason, there are a few losses that could come back to bite them down the road. At least one of those losses was self-inflicted.
The move the Warriors were expected to make in the 2022 NBA offseason
Bring back the core of the bench, namely Gary Payton II
Gary Payton II was one of the best surprises on the Warriors roster in 2021-22. After bouncing around the NBA and G League, he became an important part of the team’s system over the season and played a key role in the playoffs, even after suffering an injury that set him back. runs out of time. Otto Porter Jr. started NBA Finals games after joining the Dubs on a minimum contract. Nemanja Bjelica played 10 minutes a night during the playoffs after signing a minimum contract.
The Warriors lost all three players in the offseason, in addition to other bench players. Jordan Poole is the only reserve who played significant time against the Boston Celtics who is still with the team.
Porter signed with the Toronto Raptors in free agency to a two-year deal worth over $12 million. The Warriors only offered the bare minimum, so it’s no surprise the veteran forward left for a bigger salary. Maybe the Dubs could have offered a little more money, but it’s understandable why they didn’t.
Bjelica returned to Europe and is not the biggest loss, especially considering the presence of young players.
However, Payton’s loss stings the most as the Warriors could have offered more to match the Portland Trail Blazers’ offer. However, management decided it wasn’t worth it because of the luxury tax burden. It was a hard pill to swallow, even after securing a reasonable contract for Donte DiVincenzo. Losing Payton’s robust perimeter defense and opportunistic offense is unfortunate.
Now, just because the Warriors lost those players doesn’t mean they’ll take a definitive step back in 2022-23. Young players like Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman will earn more meaningful minutes off the bench. Kuminga and Moody had their moments last season, while Wiseman failed to make an NBA appearance but will hopefully return and make an impact in his third season.
But while they have the potential to become important parts of the Warriors’ future, relying on them in the present could be costly. Getting these young players to step in straight away, especially after a title, could bring too much pressure. If they underperform, the Warriors may need to consider making in-season moves. And at such a young age, it could affect the morale of these young people.
It’s a risk the Warriors front office has chosen to take. There are high expectations around the squad for this upcoming season, and the young plays will carry some of those. It might work out eventually, but to defend their championship, the Dubs should have been willing to spend a bit more to keep some of their important players.