The Golden State Warriors will be under the the NBA spotlight leading up to next month’s 2020 NBA Draft. The organization is in position to get an impact player with the No. 2 pick while also having championship pieces already in place. The last time this happened was after the 1996-97 season.
Perennial All-Star center David Robinson suffered injuries to his back and foot, forcing to miss 76 games. The San Antonio Spurs struggled without The Admiral in the lineup and stumbled to a 20-62 record. The Spurs’ prize for their abysmal year was winning the draft lottery and selecting the best power forward of all time, Tim Duncan.
While there are no Duncan-type prospects available this year, Golden State has the assets to acquire significant pieces to play with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. General manager Bob Myers also has the $17.2 million trade exception at his disposal.
I caught up with ESPN Senior Writer Brian Windhorst to discuss the Warriors offseason, plus how he thinks the Dubs will do in 2021:
Q: There has been a ton of talk surrounding the second pick. The Warriors have been linked to virtually every prospect at the top of the draft. Do you think they will end up using the selection or trading it for some veteran help?
Windhorst: “They’ve met with some of the top players. I think the people in the league think that if they hold the No. 2 pick, and if James Wiseman is there that they will take him. That’s what people in the league believe. I know that they they got some headlines because they became known that they were looking at Avdija, they were looking at him in Atlanta last week. But, before that they spent two days in Miami with Wiseman. And I think they had another prospect that they try to secretly brought into Miami to work out there. It all depends on what gets public or what they want to get public. Whether or not they actually intend to take Wiseman, you tell me? But the league thinks thats what’s going to happen.”
Q: Which teams are potential draft day trade partners for the Warriors?
Windhorst: “Maybe they’re trying to make a deal with Charlotte. Because, I think Charlotte has also been to see Wiseman, I know that they were scheduled to, and I mean I’m not his keeper, I don’t know, where he’s been every time, every day. But, I know that Michael Jordan was scheduled to come see him. But, they are actively looking to move down. But I think that’s been the case. That’s been the case since August, when they got the pick, I think they’ve been interested in moving down.”
“You know, historically, if you go look at it. Most of the time, there’s not movement in the top two picks. A couple of years ago, we saw an incredibly important trade happen with the No. 3 pick Luka Doncic, so it does happen in the top three, but generally you don’t see movement there. Obviously, we did have a trade with Philly, and Markelle Fultz, with Philly and Boston a couple years ago, but those are both outlier trades. If I had to wager based on the things that I’m hearing, I suspect that they will remain at No. 2, and that they will take Wiseman, and we’ll see if he has much of an impact this year.”
Q: Golden State lost out on a ton of revenue due to fans not being allowed into the brand new Chase Center. There have been reports that the Warriors won’t use the trade exception unless it is for a special talent. What have you heard in league circles?
Windhorst: “One of the things that will be interesting is this, some team wants to open up some additional cap space. One hypothetical situation that you could see would be like, if the Suns wanted to free up enough cap space to sign a player that they don’t have now, they could send Kelly Oubre into the Warriors trade exception and maybe pick up some sort of asset for it.
The posture that they have put out there. Again, I am not Joe Lacob’s accountant, and I can’t say for sure, but I do know that the Warriors took on $300 million in new financing during the offseason here. And you may say well, my gosh, that’s a bad sign. That means that they are really struggling. I mean, they are, don’t get me wrong. This is not what their plans were. But their credit is very, very good. Frankly, the Utah Jazz couldn’t do that. The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t do that. I think that opens up the window for them to do whatever they think they need to do for the team.”
Q: What do people around the league think about Golden State’s title chances next season with Curry, Thompson and Green back?
Windhorst: “I’m not gonna make any assumptions of what they’re going to be. I’m not handing them a top three team spot again. Not because I have disrespect for anything. But, Klay Thompson had a real serious injury. I know that he’s past the usual recovery period that somebody goes for while coming back from an ACL, but I’m not going to assume that he’s going to come out and do the standard Klay Thompson; I’m just not. I’m sure Steph will be fine. But he’s barely played since June of 2019, it’ll be 18 months. I’m not making the assumption that they’re going to come out on day one, and it’s going to look like the good old Warriors of 2015. They’re a playoff team, they’re a contender, but I think it’s going to be hard to recapture that. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anything quite like this, what they’re trying to do, sort of this gap year that they took.
Everything’s compressed. I’m expecting the Warriors, quite frankly, to take some time to get their feet under them. Now that I’ve said that you watch, they will start like 12-1, but I’m expecting them to struggle to get their feet under them. And I think especially that they’re a candidate to be the opening night game against the Lakers, and they’re a candidate for a big Christmas Day game. So, they’re going to have demanding challenges right out of the gate, and I’m just going to be on the side of being cautious about how they’re going to come out.”