What the Warriors mean for NBA inbetweeners

Jacob Doole Roar Rookie

By Jacob Doole, Jacob Doole is a Roar Rookie

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    On Tuesday (AEST) the Golden State Warriors did what they were built to do and won the NBA Championship.

    After being labelled all season as one of the greatest teams ever assembled, they fulfilled their destiny and bulldozed every team that stood in their way, finishing with a 4-1 demolition of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers.

    For Kevin Durant, it was vindication that he was right to jump ship from Oklahoma City and join the rival Warriors, although he will still be widely criticised for it.

    For Stephen Curry and the rest of the returning Warriors, it was redemption for last year’s upset loss to Cleveland in the Finals.

    But as the confetti fell from the bleachers of Oracle Arena and the champions hoisted the trophy aloft, the fans of every team not on the podium started looking ahead to next season.

    The Warriors look to be favourites to win the title for the next three-to-five years at least, so what does this mean for the rest of the league?

    Boston’s pot of trade-able gold
    During the season, everyone waited for Boston to cash in their treasure trove of assets for a proven superstar.

    The Celtics have this year’s Brooklyn Nets first-round pick (now number one overall), as well as next year’s Nets pick and a swag of first and second-rounders from now until 2019, and young studs such as Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart.

    As the Celtics battled with the Cavaliers for top spot in the Eastern Conference, most assumed they would take a win-now approach and trade a chunk of these assets for available stars Jimmy Butler and Paul George.

    But the Celtics stood pat, and were widely lambasted for doing so as they crashed out of the playoffs in the Conference Finals.

    There’s still talk of them going after Butler and George this offseason, but is there any real point?

    There are two key questions the Celtics management should ask themselves; the first of which is, would either of these players be enough to get them past LeBron?

    And assuming they do escape the Eastern Conference, would they stand any chance against the Golden State juggernaut?

    If the answer to either question is no, they may be better off stockpiling their youngsters and building for a future where LeBron and the Warriors are in decline.

    Isaiah Thomas layup John Wall

    (Image: Keith Allison CC BY-SA 2.0)

    Chris Paul: Wealth or wins?
    Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul is hitting free agency this summer, and he faces a souped-up version of an age-old question.

    The Clippers have long been stuck in NBA limbo, making the playoffs for the past six years but never making it past the Western Conference finals.

    Given his age (33 next May) and number of championships (zero), the reported interest of the San Antonio Spurs should tempt him given their history of winning and their young MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard.

    But a deal with the Spurs would need to come at a huge discount, with the Clippers able to offer Paul a deal upwards of $210 million.

    If Paul thinks the Spurs give him a real chance of winning his first title, then his bank account may go on the backburner.

    If he, like many pundits and fans, think that the current Warriors are a real-life cheat code that can’t be beaten, he’s a good chance to cash in with the Clippers and live with the mediocrity.

    Ring or bust in the Land
    LeBron James has made it clear that he’s chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan.

    Therefore the only thing he wants is championships, and lots of them.

    Can Cleveland win a title in the short term? Evidence suggests not.

    In this year’s finals, LeBron became the first player to ever average a triple-double in the league’s final stanza, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love gave some of their best performances for the Cavs, and yet they were still brushed aside by the Warriors.

    Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James

    (Source: Wiki Commons)

    And with little to no salary cap space to work with this offseason, they may be stuck as is unless they can make a splash on the trade market.

    Kevin Love may be on his way out; he’s coming off a good showing in the playoffs and would hold some trade value, but the belief is that he’s not an adequate third option to compete with Golden State.

    Even if Cleveland do bite the bullet and try to upgrade via trades, it’s hard to see them improving drastically in the short-term.

    Will LeBron’s eyes wander elsewhere if they again fall short next year? It’s certainly possible.

    There are already rumours flying of LeBron looking at a Los Angeles destination (Clippers or Lakers) if things don’t improve.

    Don’t be surprised if the rumours intensify as the Golden State dynasty really kicks off next season.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • June 18th 2017 @ 3:25am
      Jeff dustby said | June 18th 2017 @ 3:25am | ! Report

      How does Paul get 210 mil?

      • June 18th 2017 @ 5:20am
        joe said | June 18th 2017 @ 5:20am | ! Report

        Chris Paul gets $210 million because thats what the Clippers will be able to pay him under new agreement
        In fact it was Chris Paul who was a key member of negotiating for the 5th year option in the previous bargaining agreement.He isn’t going anywhere.Why leave LA & 50+ wins a season ,more money & he has full control over the team to go to San Antonio for less money less control to MAYBE have a chance to beat Golden State.He may as well stay in LA & hope they can trade Griffin & get a couple of key guys go there instead.

    • June 18th 2017 @ 8:50am
      BrainsTrust said | June 18th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      If Lebron has championships as his only priority then he can take a really big salary cut and use it to bring in another good player, or join another top team on the cheap ,he could even hook up with the Warriors.
      Bogut tried that trick but he broke his leg, and he wouldn;thave been able to swing things LeBrons way anyway.
      The Warriors only need Durant to take a bit less than maximum elsewhere and they can continue on their merry way.

      • June 19th 2017 @ 6:42am
        mushi said | June 19th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

        Yep he’s alreayd highlilghted that it isn’t his “only” focus.

        He’s not fan of just giving money back to the owners when they will happily do whatever they want and then ask for more in the next CBA. He’s of the view that stars overly sacrificing fuels the fire for the owners. also remeber that he has a sports agency – hard to argue you’ll go to bat to maximise your player’s contract when you’re actually devaluing production.

        After the Heat experience. The fall out was he believed that when stars take pay cuts and a championship is delivered then ownership has an obligation to pay the luxury tax – but he found out that priorities change.

    • Roar Guru

      June 19th 2017 @ 9:15am
      Chris Kettlewell said | June 19th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      Remember that the Spurs were smashing the Warriors in that first game until Leonard went down. They are going to be the team to beat over the next few years, but certainly aren’t unbeatable. The Spurs have some spaces to fill, if they can fill them well then they have every chance of taking down the Warriors.

      A number of the other teams in the playoffs had to deal with major injury concerns. While the Warriors and Cav’s went through to the finals on each side only losing one game between them, they were often against teams at less than full strength. So while they are definitely champion teams, they also managed to be all healthy at the right time when other teams didn’t manage that.

      So if some other teams just do a bit of tweaking to their teams and then manage to stay healthy, I’m sure we can see a much more competitive playoffs next season. GSW still may well win, but there’s no reason to think they’ll have everything their own way.

      • June 19th 2017 @ 10:53am
        Mushi said | June 19th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        The spurs still got towelled up by 15 a game, hard to say KL is worth 16 points margin per game

      • June 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm
        astro said | June 19th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

        Yeah, I worry that too much is being made of the Spurs first half against the Warriors. Winning a half is very different to winning a 7 game series. And even if every team is fully fit, none have the roster to match the Warriors.

        That’s what is so scary about the Warriors… They beat the Cavs easily, and the Cavs are a great team. Deep, talented, great shooting and of course, they have the best player in the world…Yet, the Dubs won in 5 without ever seemingly having to play in top gear. Even with good health, I can’t see how any team come close to stopping them.

        I saw on Bob Voulgaris’ twitter feed over the weekend, someone make the analogy of Durant joining the Warriors, as being similar to a young Shaq joining the 96 Bulls. I don’t think that’s too far off the mark…scary stuff!

        • June 20th 2017 @ 7:25am
          mushi said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

          Yep I think the Spurs were around the same level as the Cavs – so probably grab that first game and make it 4-1 – though with the Way the warriors went on runs versus great teams it wasn’t a sure thing.

          And it wasn’t just that they beat the cavs. They hammered them whislt the Cavs actually played pretty well in most games.

          They beat a team that had just rolled through their own side of the playoff draw with a single loss, had their best player drop a triple double with a steal, a block and 63% true shooting percentage. And they got them in 5?

          I think if the Cav’s delviered that same performance versus the spurs they win the series. It’s why I’m baffled that this “hurt” LeBron’s legacy (admittedly the most vocal proponent of that is Stephen A).

          He, in a crude sense, needed to overwhelm Durant by the cumulative margin that Surry/Green/Thompson could overwhlem Irving/Love/chose whomever you like as the cavs fourth.

          The scary part about the health.. A single major injury just puts them back to being on par with the regular season record breaking Warriors, you actually need them to have one injured and one banged up

          • June 20th 2017 @ 12:57pm
            astro said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

            Amazing also that today the Cavs are being talked about as adding Butler, and people are STILL saying its not enough! Insane how good this Warriors team are…

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