You never want to expect a championship, but now that the Warriors have taken a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals, it is hard to fathom them blowing a historically unbeaten lead. But if Friday’s Game 4 is the final game of the series, it also may be the last time that Warriors fans may see some of their favorite role players in Warriors uniforms.
By the Warriors’ historic standards, the 2017-18 season was their version of tumultuous. They dealt with a rash of injuries, some inconsistent play, and overall apathy. The fire and desire to take on a challenging, long regular season was lacking, though justifiably. In order to bring a new fresh energy to the team next year, many expect the Warriors to do an overhaul of their bench. Here is how the roster may play out next season:
Under contract and not going anywhere:
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, Damian Jones, Quinn Cook
Not much needs to be said regarding Curry, Thompson and Draymond. They will be with the Warriors next season and contract extensions will be discussed for the latter two. Iguodala and Livingston are under contract and are still valuable to the Warriors both on the court and in the locker room. Any attempts to trade or dump their contracts most likely would only be a realistic option following next season. Jordan Bell and Damian Jones are expected to have much bigger roles next season, bringing a youthful energy and athleticism into the lineup. Quinn Cook will serve as Steph Curry’s primary backup and fill a need off the bench that was lacking a majority of this season.
Free agents but expected to re-sign:
Kevin Durant, Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney
Durant is not leaving the Warriors. You can ignore the hot takes that are floating around the news recently. He is very happy with the team and has no intentions on leaving. McCaw is a restricted free agent, and many thought that he would play so well that he would out-price himself from the Warriors’ plans to match any offer made to him. Unfortunately, inconsistency and injuries ruined McCaw’s season. It is very likely he does not receive an offer big enough that the Warriors would not match. The team before this season did not exercise Looney’s option for next season, so therefore he will be an unrestricted free agent. Looney has had an unexpected large role with the team this year, playing the role of the finesse big man that could use his length and agility to switch and defend smaller wings and guards. What hurts Looney’s potential pay day this offseason are question marks regarding his fit with other teams that aren’t nearly as talented as the Warriors to make up for his shortcomings, and the fact there is significantly less salary cap space to go around this offseason. The Warriors can give Looney up to $2.2 million for next season, and while he may be able to land a little more money, it is doubtful he will find a team that will utilize him as much as his current squad.
Veterans that are unlikely to return:
Nick Young, Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee
Warriors fans might be seeing these three for the last time in their home team’s jerseys on Friday. Young never found the consistency with the Warriors and never fit into the role that the team had envisioned before the season. It is likely they use the money spent on Young to find a more athletic wing next season. Zaza Pachulia has fallen out of the rotation and probably will not return with the team, despite how well-liked he is. Perhaps he will eventually fit as a coach some day. McGee is the one that could possibly return, but it is still unlikely. He has played a role off and on these playoffs and throughout the season, and if he were willing to come back on the minimum again, perhaps the Warriors would be intrigued. But like last offseason, McGee searched for better offers only to finally land back with the Warriors. It is hard to see that situation panning out the same way again.
Up to him:
While West’s role has diminished considerably these playoffs, he was perhaps the Warriors’ fifth most important player the first half of the season. The Warriors would probably welcome back West’s leadership and consistent play if he were willing to take the vet minimum again, though many believe the Warriors might seek a youth movement instead. As it stands, West is deciding between retiring and playing another season for the Warriors. He is very unlikely to sign elsewhere.
Game 1 Warriors 124, Cavs 114 (OT)
Game 2 Warriors 122, Cavs 103
Game 3 Warriors 110, Cavs 102
Game 4 Cleveland — Friday, June 8 at 6pm
Game 5 Oakland — Monday, June 11 at 6pm
Game 6 Cleveland — Thursday, June 14 at 6pm
Game 7 Oakland — Sunday, June 17 at 5pm