Warriors confront pivotal offseason post play-in loss to Kings.
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Warriors confront pivotal offseason post play-in loss to Kings.

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Following an earlier-than-expected conclusion to their playoff hopes, the Golden State Warriors are entering what could be their most important offseason since the Steve Kerr era began over a decade ago.

Owner Joe Lacob, general manager Mike Dunleavy, and Kerr are confronting a number of genuine and crucial questions that will help determine the franchise’s destiny.

Clearly, the most significant issue is whether or not to bring back five-time All-Star Klay Thompson, whose contract with the Warriors expired after the team’s 118-94 loss to the Sacramento Kings in the NBA postseason play-in round on Tuesday.

Everything points to a successful transaction. Thompson has already declared his wish to remain with the only NBA team for which he has played, while Kerr and some of Thompson’s teammates have expressed a desire for him to return.

That isn’t the only issue Golden State’s management will have to address before next season, and Kerr isn’t in a hurry to do so.

“It’s too early for me to even think about that,” Kerr told reporters at Golden 1 Center after the Kings’ loss. “You put so much into the season, and there’s so much going on. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have such talented players and to have won numerous tournaments and Finals.

“This is life.” Here’s how it works. You can’t stay on top forever.

“What happens this summer and next year is something we will worry about later. Right now, I’m just thinking about our players and how committed they were this year, the connections they made, and the effort they put in to put us in a position to have a shot. “We were clearly not good enough.”

Following Thompson’s departure, the Warriors must decide whether to keep Chris Paul or let the veteran point guard go. Paul, a 12-time All-Star and almost probably a future Hall of Famer, turns 39 next month and has a contract for $30 million next year, though it is not guaranteed.

“I hope and pray that he is back, and that I am back,” Draymond Green stated. “It has been a privilege to have him as a teammate. I love going to war with guys like that.”

Other players on the roster may or may not return next season as well.

Gary Payton II has a player option for next season, and Dario Saric is set to become an unrestricted free agency.

The squad also needs to make a decision regarding Green. Green is already under contract, but he was suspended twice by the NBA this season and received counseling during his absence.

Are the Warriors willing to continue with Green despite the baggage that he brings, or will they decide it’s time to move on?

Kerr will also have to make some coaching decisions.

The Big Three of Thompson, Green, and Stephen Curry are clearly nearing the end of their Hall of Fame careers. The Warriors spent part of the 2023-24 season bringing younger players like Jonathan Kuminga, Brandin Podziemski, and Trayce Jackson-Davis into the mix, so it will be interesting to see how much their individual responsibilities expand next season.

“We asked a lot of BP, Trayce (and) JK took another big step in the right direction,” Curry went on to say. “Hopefully they instilled confidence in themselves that they can contribute, and we’ll keep that momentum going into the summer. I definitely found several treasures. It’s simply a matter of continuing to make the required modifications.”

Almost everyone thinks that the Warriors must do something to remain competitive in the hard and challenging Western Conference.

Golden State concluded the regular season with two more wins than the previous season, but slid from sixth place and a sure playoff spot to play-in status this year.

“We’ve got an offseason where we’ve got a lot to think about, for sure,” Kerr said in an interview. “Every year, you lose players and bring new ones in. You just know that there will be changes every year, which is part of the business, but it doesn’t make things any easier.”

Golden State does not have a first-round pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA draft. The Warriors’ single pick comes late in the second round.

The team must also decide how active it will be in free agency, which is where the Dubs may solve some of their most pressing concerns.

Regardless of what occurs, Curry believes the Warriors will be real contenders again in the 2024-25 season.

“Definitely frustrating, disappointing to say the least,” Curry said in a statement. “But you keep your head up, knowing there’s plenty more in the tank. For me, that is the mindset.

“We obviously understand the league has changed and we’re getting deeper into our careers and we have to continue to evolve and make the necessary adjustments to win games.”

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