The major move Warriors needed to make in 2022 NBA offseason
The Golden State Warriors had a dreamlike 2021-22 season. After two down seasons due to injuries, the Warriors ended up winning the 2022 NBA Finals with Stephen Curry finally getting his Finals MVP trophy.
Not only that, but the team finally had Klay Thompson back on the court after the shooting guard missed two entire seasons due to injuries. Golden State also saw breakout years for some role players, helping them get paydays.
While the Warriors will bring back most of the championship core in 2022-23 after a relatively quiet offseason, there are a few losses that could come back to bite them down the road. At least one of those losses was self-inflicted.
The move Warriors needed to make in 2022 NBA offseason
Bringing back the bench core, namely Gary Payton II
Gary Payton II was one of the best surprises of the Warriors’ roster in 2021-22. After bouncing around the NBA and G League, he became an important part of the team’s system in the season and played a key role in the playoffs, even after suffering an injury that caused him to miss time. Otto Porter Jr. started games in the NBA Finals after joining the Dubs on a minimum contract. Nemanja Bjelica played 10 minutes a night during the postseason after signing a minimum deal.
The Warriors lost all three players in the offseason, in addition to other bench players. Jordan Poole is the only reserve who played significant time against the Boston Celtics who is still with the team.
Porter signed with the Toronto Raptors in free agency on a two-year deal worth over $12 million. The Warriors were only offering the minimum, so it’s no surprise the veteran forward left for a bigger payday. Perhaps the Dubs could have offered a bit more money, but it’s understandable why they didn’t.
Bjelica returned to Europe and isn’t the biggest loss, especially given the presence of the young players.
However, the loss of Payton stings the most because the Warriors could have offered more to match the Portland Trail Blazers’ offer. However, management decided it wasn’t worth it because of the luxury tax burden. It was a tough pill to swallow, even after getting Donte DiVincenzo on a reasonable contract. Losing Payton’s rugged perimeter defense and opportunistic offense is unfortunate.
Now, just because the Warriors lost these players doesn’t mean they will definitely take a step back in 2022-23. Young players like Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman will earn more meaningful minutes off the bench. Kuminga and Moody had their moments last season, while Wiseman failed to make an NBA appearance but will hopefully return and make an impact in his third season.
But while they have the potential to become important pieces for the Warriors’ future, relying on them in the present might be costly. Making those young players step up right away, especially after a title, could bring too much pressure. If they underperform, the Warriors might have to look at making in-season moves. And at such a young age, it could affect those youngsters’ morale.
That is a risk that the Warriors’ front office chose to take. There are high expectations around the team for this upcoming season, and the young pieces will bear some of them. This could wind up working out, but to defend their championship, the Dubs should have been willing to spend just a little bit more to keep around some of their important role players.