OAKLAND — As the NBA’s Feb. 7 trade deadline approaches, teams around the league have been working around the clock to strike a deal and improve their teams, some of which are primed for blockbuster moves.
For the Golden State Warriors, who sit with the third-best record in the league, however, those kind of changes are not on the immediate horizon, as they look towards April and yet another extended playoff run, as well as the retention of their core.
“I don’t think anybody’s inactive,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said on Monday afternoon. “The good news is we’re pretty healthy. We know who we are. I don’t expect any big changes, but we’ll see.”
Head coach Steve Kerr was a bit more blunt regarding the deadline: “The sense here is that’s everybody else’s problem.”
Coming off of back-to-back championships and three in the last four seasons, the majority of the Warriors’ roster has already been decided after the offseason additions of Jonas Jerebko and Alfonzo McKinnie, not to mention the signing of DeMarcus Cousins.
Without having to add significant pieces, Golden State will rather look to pick up a buyout candidate.
“We’ll see who’s bought out, first of all. If it’s a player that makes sense to help us win a championship, then we’ll look at it,” Myers said. “Whether it’s a wing or a big, that’s hard to know right now … But if we see a player that makes sense and can help us, we’ll pursue it.”
In addition to trade deadline talks, Myers also touched on some of the hurdles Golden State will be facing after the postseason, when free agency begins.
Just 24 hours after Warriors owner Joe Lacob told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic that he would not be outspent when Golden State tries to retain their core four, Myers echoed those sentiments, dispelling any notion that the two-time defending champions will be letting their stars walk away come July.
“I feel like all of our players are happy and want to stay with us and continue with us,” Myers said. “ Somebody with my job and my role, you love to have the support of ownership saying if we lose or if we’re not competitive, it’s not going to be because we didn’t spend money.”
While the Warriors are second in the Western Conference two-thirds of the way through the regular season, and recently ran off an 11-game winning streak, the defending back-to-back champions have faced some of the harshest scrutiny since emerging as a realistic title contender in 2015.
Within the first month of the season, Golden State felt the full force of a sideline blowup between forwards Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, which reportedly stemmed from Durant’s impending free agency.
Durant, who has taken one-year deals in each of his last three seasons as a Warrior, has shown reluctance to commit to Golden State in the long term by signing a full-length contract.
The Warriors, though, quickly moved past the potential team-fracturing spat.
“Just decent people going through issues in life,” Myers said. “They are very good, high-character people. That allows you to persevere in situations that we all face in any work, to navigate those things. I attribute it to Steve and his leadership, and our players.
“They’ve been through a lot together, these guys. We’ve won some championships. We’ve lost one. We’ve been scrutinized. They’ve had success. They’ve had things they sacrifice. In all those things, going through”
While Durant has been linked to several teams this year, including the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, Myers says he feels confident that the Warriors present an enticing enough situation to convince the former league and NBA Finals MVP to stay in blue and gold.
“I think we have a great environment,” he said. “We recruit every day. We’re recruiting every day. You want to maintain a good, working culture. You don’t just ignore people until their contract is up or you say, ‘Hey, you can’t leave now, anyway.’
Along with Durant, who is averaging 27.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and six assists this season (all above his career averages), the Warriors also have recently confronted the recurring topic of Klay Thompson’s future in the Bay as he, too, will become a free agent at the end of this season.
Since the beginning of the year, Thompson has been linked to Los Angeles, where his father, Mychal, played for four years and currently does Lakers play-by-play on the radio.
Talk of Klay to the Lakers sparked back up on Saturday night, as Thompson led the Warriors to a 115-101 win over the visiting Lakers with 28 points. During the game, a large group of Lakes fans sitting in the third deck were heard chanting “WE WANT THOMPSON!” reflecting their desire for the 28-year old to sign with Los Angeles in six months.
“I grew up where we would be chanting, wanting Lakers players, so I guess that’s a good place to be in,” Myers said. “Again, it’s the NBA. It is a sport, but it’s also entertainment and you want people to engage in it. You want them to be passionate about it. I only worry about one thing, and that’s apathy. There’s no apathy in our sport right now. It’s in a great spot. You’ve got great passion, and it’s got a great following.”
While Myers spent much of his podium time trying to ease the minds of fans, stating that the team will be working to retain their core this offseason, the 42-year-old executive also tried to put things into perspective, reminding those watching of the organization’s ultimate goal in their immediate future.
“It’s hard to win a playoff game. It’s hard to win a championship. That has to be our focus. That is our focus,” he said. “So, the bad news is this: If we’re fortunate enough to keep playing and finish in June, there is probably seven days or 12 before free agency. That’s unique to our sport. You really have to do your work in that small period.”