Tuck: Warriors Future Depends On Other Teams
The Golden State Warriors were a fun basketball team to watch. They accomplished great things this year, and now the question is: Can it continue next year?
The best way to answer a question about a #6 seed that pulled a playoff upset is to look outward and then inward.
The West next season could be in flux. The Lakers (Dwight Howard) and Clippers (Chris Paul) have major free agents that will impact how good, or not they could be in 2013-14. The Jazz also have major decisions (Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap) to figure out. Dallas has a ton of cap room and will be buyers. Health also proved to be critical this season in effecting the standings. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Danilo Gallinari, Nic Batum, Anthony Davis, and others all missed time that changed the season.
So climbing the standings is possible, but knowing exactly who they can pass is difficult to gauge right now. And it's important to remember, as soon as you being to think about who you are going to pass, you have to be aware of others that are thinking about passing you! As noted above, the Lakers, Rockets, Jazz, and Mavericks all are expecting to improve as well. And that would mean passing the Warriors in the standings.
The Warriors themselves look to be promising. Stephen Curry is signed to a more-than-reasonable long-term deal. Klay Thompson is still on his rookie deal. Of course, they have rookies Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli, and Kent Bazemore. So that is a pretty young core. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are locked up. All that is very good news.
The bad news is Jarrett Jack is a free agent who probably played well enough to make more cash, although he was very emotional last night after the game talking about how much he loved playing in Golden State. Carl Landry has a player option. He also played well enough that opting out and making more than $4 million seems logical. Both of those players were pivotal in the success of the Warriors this year. If they aren't brought back, they'd have to be replaced and I don't think that will be easy.
The other good news/bad news is that they are saddled with $20 million owed still to Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins next year. It's bad because they aren't helping, it's good because each is in his final year. Golden State will be up against luxury tax next season, but the following year they'll have plenty of money to spend.
So they'll get to choose between letting those salaries fall off, or attempting to trade those expiring deals for more immediate help. Golden State has never really been a destination NBA city, so a trade could be in the works.
The Warriors should be a good team next year, and could even improve in the standings, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them fall out of the playoffs altogether. The West is just so deep and competitive, and what others do will probably effect Golden State more than anything they'll do.