Is it time for the Golden State Warriors to make a tough decision?

The Golden State Warriors have avoided tough decisions in ways no modern NBA dynasty ever has, but the arc of history is bending that way, and it’s doing so very quickly.


Right now.

Like today.

General manager Bob Myers and head coach Steve Kerr have been nimble and skilful, getting the best out of the core, while the supporting pieces have been enough to pull off another championship, but it appears the mighty organizational bamboo is under unplanned stress.

Continual winning requires a singular focus, skill and a bit of luck. The competition in the NBA is very tough, good teams are too eager to see an opening at the top of a conference to simply plant roses at the feet of the champions.

It is respect, but not reverence.

The NBA’s three biggest brands — LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant — are not rising from their organizations, for varying reasons and levels of guilt.

Unlike the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors still have a path out of the basement and back into the penthouse, but it looks like the leverage they’ve gained should be used.

One could argue that Curry is having his best season, and that’s considering he was the unanimous MVP seven seasons ago. But his greatness is pushing the Warriors into a corner that the organization would have to have a plan to crawl out of before this looks like an unfair franchise.

It’s not as easy as benching Klay Thompson or blaming the slow start on the fatigue of facing Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole in training camp.

“As far as rollover goes, it’s good to have problems in this league. I’m not worried about the big picture,” Curry told Yahoo Sports weeks ago after a road loss in Detroit. “We’ve been through this before. This is the first time in a while. But I know the process.”

It’s easy to assume a team like the Warriors is picking up where they left off last June, but they’re starting from scratch like everyone else. The problem is, it’s still at zero.

“If you look at our team, it’s different. So we have to treat this year as a special, different year,” Curry said. “That’s the part I’ve noticed, how we’ve been through it before, so it’s not panic.”

When Curry spoke that night, he made sure to project an air of calm. Not arrogance but definitely a bit of concern.

“[Setting] realistic championship expectations for this team,” Curry said. “That’s why I’ve been trying not to be too sullen in the press room because everybody’s holding us – as they should – to this expectation that we’re supposed to be [undefeated]. It doesn’t work that way.”

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry reacts against the Phoenix Suns at the Footprint Center in Phoenix on Nov. 16, 2022. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Kerr decided to say what everyone with trained eyes already believed – that there is no consistency on either end of the floor and no easy solutions.

The losses are piling up, and even if he’s a champion just easing his way into a new season after a long playoff run since the summer, it’s too late. They are the second worst defense in points against and 27th in defensive rating.

Despite the flash they showed in winning four championships, it was the work done on the defensive end that marked everything else. No other team has had the mental toughness to keep up with it for long stretches — you could see it in the Finals last year, when the Celtics broke out, and before that, when the brash Memphis Grizzlies couldn’t find a consistent formula to overthrow them.

The undefeated factor is gone — even if one could argue that the intimidation left the building when Durant left a few years ago, there was still extra magic when the Warriors walked into your building.

Champions usually take an opponent’s best shot anyway, but that’s born out of respect for the fear of embarrassment—that Curry might unleash a bunch of three-pointers, goofy grins, that Thompson would stonewall the guy in front of him in a unspeakable night, all while feasting on open shots, and that Green would make an entire 12-man roster in uncharacteristic stretches.

Usually, a combination of two and something extra would be the formula and the Warriors could continue their road tour at another stop. The Warriors may not be food yet, but other teams have foam to help — and all while knowing Curry is capable of shooting a 50 ball.

The more Curry continues to make these huge plays and opponents find a way to absorb body shots to deliver their own knockout, the more confident the NBA at large will be in believing there is a formula to dethrone them. champions.

All modern dynasties had to start difficult conversations to continue and give it new life. For the Showtime Lakers, he released Magic Johnson and cut an aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — after three championships under a previous formula, no less. The Magic won three MVPs over the next four years, the Lakers won two more titles and did everything they could to bide their time to get to Abdul-Jabbar.

Larry Bird’s Celtics had to replace the hard-nosed Bill Fitch with the more likable KC Jones, even after Fitch led the Celtics to a title in 1981. Bird’s offseason schedule and in-season habits improved greatly, and he made a streak of three straight MVPs and four consecutive Finals appearances.

Of course, Michael Jordan’s Bulls went from hating Dennis Rodman to fully embracing it, giving Rodman a colorful second act in their second three-pointer. History says that these were easy decisions to make, but in real time, everything was a risk.

Even the San Antonio Spurs, the team’s most recent dynasty—not counting James’ dominance of the conference over the last decade—had to change from a Tim Duncan-centric, drive-and-kick grinding style. , and space for others. to cook.

Look, even New Edition added Johnny Gill to the mix.

And it’s certainly easy to blame young players who haven’t lived up to expectations, players who, in any other NBA situation, would have had the runway to make mistakes on the fly because the stakes aren’t as high.

Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman (33) reacts after being called for a foul on Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. ( AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman hasn’t played enough high-level competitive basketball to contribute and succeed in the Warriors’ system. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez)

James Wiseman has barely played enough competitive real-time basketball in recent years to contribute in a high-octane, fast-moving environment, let alone succeed in this pressured void the Warriors have created.

He played three games in college, missed half of his rookie season and didn’t play at all last season. His memories of dominant rivalry date back to his tender high school days, and that little bit of parity doesn’t last. Curry just wants to sprint through ball screens and move with purpose.

Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga have increased roles, but they cannot be the catalysts for a comeback, and so the pressure is tenfold because everyone knows that any outside help would require their exit.

The Warriors could sell veterans and young players on their sacrifice for the sake of winning. But for young players who know the spoils of team success but not individually, it’s human nature to want to establish themselves rather than selfishly immerse themselves in team dynamics.

Because you’ve already won.

And while the odds are easy to say the Warriors will turn it around on their own, no one can ignore the glaring warning signs calling for substantial change.

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