Can the Warriors get Kevin Durant or LeBron?

The offseason started much earlier than usual around these parts, which amps up the stress levels and adds to the certainty that these next few months could be more interesting for the Warriors and their fans than the 83 games we just witnessed and likely more significant for the team’s long-term future.

Which, no surprise, meant that I received a lot of good and challenging questions about the Warriors for Part 1 of this mailbag cycle. I’ll put questions and answers about the 49ers’ own offseason, the Giants’ wobbles and all other teams and topics into Part 2, aimed for later this week.

As usual, questions have been edited for length and clarity, and I tried to answer at least one question if it was among many on the same topic. I did cut off the number of answers about the prospect of acquiring Kevin Durant or LeBron James at three. Or four. Maybe five?

Here we go …

How about LeBron AND Durant to the Warriors? LeBron signs as a free agent and something like Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and picks to the Phoenix Suns for Durant. A full heel turn for the Warriors. Make next season all about the 2010s vs. the 2020s.

Tom P.

This whole thing puts the hype in hypothetical and I can say this because I (mostly jokingly) proposed it myself.

Typed with little fear of aggregation since I’m mostly joking, but…

There’s a way for the Warriors to get LeBron AND Durant. It’ll never happen, but there’s a way.

Why not go Full Lacob??? lol https://t.co/S18WtS8ryK

— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) April 30, 2024

I admit it, yes, I’ve also wondered about the prospect of the Warriors pledging to the Grand Unifying Superstar Theory this summer. And I’m sure that Joe Lacob has led 10 or 20 whiteboard sessions to figure out how they might be able to put Stephen Curry with his two highest-profile Team USA teammates for the Paris Olympics. Because it isn’t impossible. Not technically.

But really, I’ve stared at this myself for a while, and no, I don’t think any of it is happening.

The Warriors aren’t going to convince Phoenix to trade them Durant because 1) I don’t think the Suns are interested in doing this; and 2) if they get interested, 10 other teams have much more to offer than the Warriors. Why would Phoenix want Wiggins over anything the Oklahoma City Thunder or Orlando Magic might package?

And the Warriors aren’t going to get LeBron to sign for either the midlevel exception or for the veterans’ minimum because 1) I don’t think he wants to leave the Lakers; 2) even if he, as expected, opts out of his $51 million contract for next season, the Warriors couldn’t offer him anything close to that, a problem that only expands geometrically in future years. And yes, LeBron’s definitely thinking about years beyond 2024-25. That’s why the Warriors tried to land LeBron at the trade deadline, when they could’ve used Klay Thompson or Chris Paul’s contracts to match LeBron’s current salary then given him a raise off of that or just kept the $51 million on the books. This is not workable now in the offseason.

OK, if the Warriors draft Bronny James with the 52nd pick in June, three ahead of the Lakers’ own second-round selection, this might get a tiny bit more serious. But not that serious.

How realistic is a trade to get KD back with the Warriors and do you think that, if they gave up mostly matching salaries and picks without giving up too much of their youth, the team could make a realistic run at a championship?Brian S.

If the Warriors got Durant and plopped him back alongside Curry, Draymond Green and a re-signed Klay, with, say, Kevon Looney, Brandin Podziemski, Moses Moody and Gary Payton II as the main supporting cast, yes, I think the Warriors would have a shot at making a familiar kind of deep run in the playoffs. That’s why Lacob’s theoretically drawing up those whiteboards. Durant’s still great. (Which is why Phoenix will want a ton more than the Warriors can offer for him.)

But I don’t think, even then, that this version of the Warriors would be anything close to favorites, given the advanced ages of all the lead players and the rambunctious stuff we’ve seen from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Thunder so far this postseason. Wouldn’t this be Suns 2.0?

Are the Warriors looking to acquire a star to pair with Steph? They need someone who can take pressure off Steph. Someone like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Joel Embiid.Shooter Mcgavin.

Oh, they’re definitely looking. The Warriors aren’t going to get Giannis or Embiid, but they’re looking at everything. I think this comes down to two points: Are they willing to trade Kuminga, and how valuable is he on the market? The Warriors would’ve been serious players in the Pascal Siakam talks last February, but they didn’t want to put Kuminga — still a big part of how they view themselves into the future — into any deal for a pending free agent, even a very good one.

There’s no guarantee that Kuminga will turn into a consistent 1B scorer to complement Curry by next season or ever. But he might. If the Warriors trade him, they’d want somebody very good and very likely to be on the team for many years. Whether that’s possible is TBD.

Do you see a path for the Warriors to make multiple moves to add two or three cheaper, younger players a tier or two below (Durant, LeBron, Embiid or Giannis)?

Mike M.

This is the practical way to approach this offseason if you’re the Warriors, I think. Check in on the big names. Try to do something amazing. Then when those doors are shut in your face, review what the Mavericks did at the trade deadline to supplement Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving and maybe try to do something similar this July.

Dallas got P.J. Washington from Charlotte for Grant Williams’ contract, Seth Curry and their 2027 first-round pick (protected 1-2). And the Mavericks got Daniel Gafford from Washington for Richaun Holmes and a 2024 first-round pick (that originally belonged to Oklahoma City).

Not exactly the sexiest acquisitions ever. The moves definitely sacrificed a chunk of Dallas’ future. But Washington and Gafford would’ve looked tremendous in a late-season Warriors rotation. Washington is giving the Mavericks significant two-way play at the wing and Gafford is a solid part of a center tandem with Dereck Lively.

Which players could be parallel kinds of acquisitions for the Warriors if they’re willing to move off of, say, Moody and multiple first-round picks? How about Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez, or Toronto’s Kelly Olynyk or Bruce Brown? Or go up a level: New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram, Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray or Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen. You won’t get these guys for free, but this is possibly the Warriors’ talent range.

GO DEEPER

Thompson: What can the Warriors do to improve? Here are eight possible trade targets

What would be the ideal, realistic Warriors offseason?Dave W.

I tossed out the Washington/Gafford example for another main reason: I’m not sure the Warriors want to trade Wiggins, and if you remove his contract, the Warriors would probably have to set their trade sights lower than superstar level. I think the Warriors were willing to consider trading Wiggins last February but didn’t get any real interest. And that was when there was some hope that Kuminga or Moody could assume Wiggins’ very, very important role as the main defender against the opponent’s best perimeter scorer. Which might not be the correct assumption right now.

What’s realistic for the Warriors? Smart pickups toward the back end of the rotation can have multiplier effects. They happened when they added Otto Porter Jr., GP2 and Nemanja Bjelica in 2021-22. They did not hit big when it was JaMychal Green in 2022-23 (but Donte DiVincenzo worked fine) and Dario Šarić and Cory Joseph this season.

What if the Warriors added a starting point guard to relieve Steph of that burden and essentially played him at the two? Geoff T.

Curry wants to play point guard. He’s a great point guard. The Warriors like to add backup PGs who can play with Curry at times (preferably taller ones, like Shaun Livingston, who can defend shooting guards), but they’re not going to push Curry off of the position in the starting lineup and they shouldn’t. Whoever starts next to him, though, should be able to bring the ball up against pressure when Curry needs to conserve his energy. Could that be Podziemski? He was actually better at it this season than Paul was.

Is it time for the Warriors to say goodbye to Chris Paul, Klay, GP2 and Looney so they have the cap room to pursue some impact players in free agency?Sam P.

The Warriors feasibly can get out of the second apron and even under the luxury-tax line, and they may do most of what you’re saying, but they have no realistic way to get far enough under the salary-cap line to be major players in free agency. They’ll be happy enough to get under the luxury-tax line and be able to use the $12.9 million non-taxpayer exception.

Also: GP2 has a $9.1 million player option for next season that he is extremely likely to exercise, so they’re not getting away from that money.

The Warriors ended the season with a 10-2 run. They looked like a real dangerous team again, but people are calling this a dumpster fire. Are they maybe, just maybe, still pretty decent?David P.

They were the 10th-best team in the Western Conference last season, and I don’t think getting destroyed by the ninth-best in the Play-In game was anything but an exclamation point to that fact. Yes, the Warriors played much better in the second half of the season than they did in the first few months, but many other teams above and behind them in the standings are far, far younger than they are and should be better next season.

Note: The Warriors were 2-13 against the four teams still alive in the Western Conference playoffs. They went 0-3 vs. Minnesota, 1-3 vs. Oklahoma City, 1-3 vs. Dallas and 0-4 vs. Denver. That’s a team with a lot of work to do to get back into true contention.

Would Lacob rather run it back with Curry knowing that the team will not be able to contend with the top teams in the West and yet take advantage of Curry’s revenue power, OR (with Steph’s consent) trade Curry, start the re-set earlier, get younger and more athletic, get back in contention sooner but lose the revenue production that Steph commands?Dan M.

The Warriors aren’t trading Curry. They shouldn’t. They won’t. He wants to stay here. He will stay here. The Warriors are their best selves when Curry is on the team. They’ll be lesser than that the moment he’s not on the team.

What are the chances that Klay Thompson actually walks in free agency? Crystal S.

I think it’s likelier than not that Klay re-signs with the Warriors, but we don’t know what the Warriors will offer, what offer he might get from another team (say, Orlando or Dallas) and whether he is ready for new scenery.

How do the new sign-and-trade rules work in regard to the Dubs and Klay Thompson? Robert K.

The new limitations mostly focus on teams that are operating in the second apron, and the Warriors are pretty certain to do their best to get out of that situation this summer. If they can’t or don’t get out, they won’t be able to acquire any newly signed player in a S/T and no second-apron team could acquire Klay or any other player who goes into July as a free agent.

And even if the Warriors get out of the second apron, using Klay’s contract in a sign-and-trade would be very difficult because, remember, he has the choice of teams, not them. He could just sign outright with any team that has the necessary cap space. If he wants to go to a team that doesn’t have the cap space, then it’d take a sign-and-trade that the Warriors would have to agree to. The most likely paths are that Klay re-signs with the Warriors or leaves outright by signing elsewhere, one or the other.

Do you sense the Warriors would be willing to pay the repeater tax to pursue a star (All-NBA level) if one became available or are they solely focused on getting out of the tax completely and assessing options from there? — John D.

If the Warriors can get a true difference-making star, I don’t think Lacob will exercise many limitations in what he’s willing to pay, even after telling me during the season that “Plan A” is for the Warriors to get all the way out of the luxury tax. But he and Mike Dunleavy Jr. would have to be convinced that adding this player would make the Warriors as good as or better than Denver, Minnesota or Boston. That’s a big qualifier.

How do you think the Warriors will handle Moses Moody? They seem to like him a lot, but then played the two newer rookies a ton more than him. Ogc O.

Do you see Moses stepping into starter role and letting Klay walk?Robert K.

Moody is behind Podziemski on the guard/wing depth chart. That’s hard to argue since he was behind Podziemski all season, when Podziemski was just a rookie. I think Steve Kerr sees Moody as a depth piece right now — he’ll get increased minutes at small forward if Klay leaves but would still be behind Wiggins and possibly Kuminga at that spot; and in specific matchups, Moody could see time at shooting guard behind Podziemski or anybody else the Warriors bring in.

Kerr said it as clear as a bell in his end-of-season presser: Moody needs to be quicker all around. Shoot quicker. Make decisions quicker. Play quicker. Until he does that, he’ll be battling for minutes.

If the Warriors don’t extend Moody or Kuminga, do they have any control, e.g., ability to match offers, after this coming season?Gregg D.

Moody and Kuminga are both former first-round picks going into their fourth seasons, so they are eligible for their rookie extensions this summer. If one or both don’t sign extensions by Oct. 31, they’re still under contract through this season and would be restricted free agents in July 2025. That means the Warriors would have the opportunity to match any offers they receive at that point.

I’m trying to understand the logic of not trading CP3 at the trade deadline. Did the front office think his contract would be useful this offseason? Or did they think they had a legitimate chance to make a run in these playoffs?Ken B.

It’s not all one thing or all the other. The Warriors wanted CP3 for the rest of the season because he was valuable to them in those non-Curry minutes and also because his contract can possibly be used in a trade this summer; but they also would’ve traded him in February if anything valuable was offered. I don’t think anything valuable was offered.

I have read some conflicting things about what the Warriors can do with Chris Paul. Can they aggregate his salary with other salaries in a trade? Can they extend the guarantee deadline?Jeff M.

What the Warriors can or can’t do in July across the board is heavily dependent on where their payroll ends up. If they remain in the second apron, they’ll be extremely limited. If they get out, they’ll be far less limited.

They have a June 28 deadline to decide on CP3’s guarantee. The only way they’d guarantee it, IMO, is if they have a trade in place. So watch out for that. If CP3 is willing, the Warriors could move the deadline back to give all sides more time to figure things out. I see very little chance, though, that the Warriors would guarantee the $30 million and then keep CP. I think the only way the Warriors keep CP3 is if he agrees to come back for less money, which seems extremely unlikely and also would mean the Warriors non-guaranteeing the $30 million.

You’ve indicated that next year is likely the “last dance” for this GSW team. What comes next for the major figures from this team? Do Steph, Klay, and Dray finish their careers with GSW? Would Steph and/or Klay try to win another trophy elsewhere?Benjamin T.

I’m not saying this is the same thing as the Chicago Bulls’ “Last Dance” in 1998, since that was when basically everybody on the team was a pending free agent and they knew it was all ending. The Warriors have Curry and Kerr signed for two more seasons and Draymond signed for three more, and Lacob, Dunleavy and everybody else in management have no intention of calling everything off next July.

My reference for 2024-25 is that it’s probably the last realistic shot at a championship with this group. More of a “Last Chance,” which probably actually came a few years ago, but I’m still saying any team with Curry playing at this level with a feasible supporting cast has at least an outside shot. But likely not beyond this season, unless some very dramatic things happen to the roster very soon.

Are we just all on a caravan ride into the sunset of the Big Three’s retirement? Look into your crystal ball and tell me how likely it is all three retire with the team. — Lexi A.

Let’s see what happens with Klay in July.

What’s been your favorite memory with this core?Wolf.

The most vivid and lasting image I have of this team probably first burned itself into my memory during the San Antonio second-round series in 2013, in the pre-dynasty days, when I watched Curry and Klay go on the road and just take it right at Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard in Games 1 and 2 (they blew Game 1 and came right back and won Game 2), possession after possession, shot after shot, even after some monumental plays by San Antonio.

I sat courtside for Game 2, and I couldn’t believe the shots that Curry and Klay were taking … and making … in the face of the Spurs’ dynasty (Duncan & Co. lost in the finals that year and won their final championship of that era the next season). The Warriors lost that series in six games, but the pace, the guts, the punching power and the kinetic energy of the whole thing was something I’ll never forget. Young Curry, Klay and Draymond were just about ready to move NBA mountains. You could feel it.

That was a signal for what was to come and a herald for the series-turning Game 4s in Memphis and Cleveland in 2015, the monumental Game 6 in Oklahoma City in 2016, the unbelievable Game 7 in Houston in 2018 and the eternal Game 4 in Boston in 2022.

Any update on the status on the upcoming WNBA team in the Bay?Kacy B.

And any word on timing for announcing name/branding etc.? Evelyn B.

Will they have the No. 1 pick in the 2025 draft? — Robert K.

I suspect there will be a name announcement soon. One note: I heard that Lacob, possibly as a whim, checked to see if he could re-use “Lasers,” as a callback to his ownership of the old ABL San Jose Lasers, and was told that this was not workable.

There hasn’t been an announcement about next year’s draft, but going by all recent history, it’s likely that the Bay Area team will be slotted in after the lottery teams — that’s what happened for the previous two expansion teams, the Chicago Sky in 2006 and Atlanta Dream in 2008.

And it wasn’t asked, but WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert has previously suggested that the expansion dispersal draft is likely to be held in December.

A fan poll just ranked the Warriors TV broadcasting team as the worst in the NBA by a huge margin. Will we ever be rid of Bob Fitzgerald? Cassidy K.

Do you think the Awful Announcing rankings of all 30 NBA broadcast teams will have an impact on whether the Warriors or NBC Sports Bay Area decide to make a change to the booth?Andrew S.

Only one poll matters in this regard, and that’s of people named Joe Lacob. I believe the Warriors’ current TV team has 100 percent of the balloting and as long as that’s the case, it won’t matter if every other vote, contest or critic states any other opinion. And it’s not like there’s any evidence that the Fitzgerald-Kelenna Azubuike tandem is hurting the Warriors’ ratings, which are among the highest in the league.

So no, an Awful Announcing poll (which, let’s face it, isn’t very scientific) isn’t going to knock out anybody that Lacob doesn’t want knocked out of that booth.

I don’t want to get too much into the weeds here, since I do express my opinion about these matters at times on Formerly Twitter, but I’ll point out that I think Azubuike has gotten better and better through his first few years after replacing the great Jim Barnett. And the better and more confident Azubuike gets, the more he can subtly or not-so-subtly offset some of the more egregious things said on those broadcasts. It’s necessary. I just feel bad that Kelenna has to wear that No. 30 ranking whenever it comes up, though his career will be long enough to make it an afterthought, eventually.

GO DEEPER

Warriors’ offseason roundup: What’s the latest on Klay Thompson, Moses Moody and more?

(Top photo of Stephen Curry and LeBron James: Jim Poorten / NBAE via Getty Images)

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