Offseason Preview: Pacific Division
Over the last several days, I have been going division-by-division through the league and laying out what decisions need to be made and what’s at stake for each NBA team this offseason. We’ve already completed the Eastern Conference, running through the Atlantic Division, the Central, and the Southeast. Today we move on to the West. We’ll start with the Pacific, then finish up with the Northwest and Southwest.
Without further ado…
Golden State Warriors
Key Potential FA: Draymond Green (PO), Donte DiVincenzo
Big Decisions: Draymond’s contract, Preparing for Klay Thompson’s next contract, Figuring out how to navigate the new CBA
I think we should start with the Chris Paul trade, because I don’t quite understand how there are people who don’t understand it.
Chris Paul is, like, a lot better than Jordan Poole. Like, a lot a lot. Especially on defense, even in his age-diminished state. He is far more likely to lead a competent second-unit offense, far less likely to make mistakes on the court, and far more reliable in the playoffs. (He is probably equally likely to drive his teammates nuts, albeit for much different reasons.)
Yes, he is 38 years old. No, he is not nearly what he once was. Yes, he costs more than Poole this coming season ($30.8 million vs. $28.7 million) and brings with him the accordant luxury tax cost. But the Warriors don’t need him to be what he once was, and his contract is also fully non-guaranteed beyond this year, meaning they can either a) cut ties with Paul and thus save the entirety of Poole’s $99.3 million in salary over the final three years of his deal (plus accordant luxury tax costs) for the cost of just a top-20 protected pick in 2027; b) guarantee somewhere between some and all of his salary in order to include him in a trade next offseason; c) or keep him for one more year at a price that is actually less than what Poole would have cost in 2024-25 ($30 million vs. $30.9 million). That seems like a win to me.
Trading Poole also seems like a precursor to bringing Draymond back, which is imperative if the Warriors want to remain contenders. The Kings opening up a bunch of cap space is a theoretical threat to Golden State’s ability to retain him, but not much more than that. It’s not at all realistic that the Blazers will sign him for the mid-level exception, despite Dame’s wishes. Dallas can only make him a credible offer if Kyrie Irving leaves. Houston makes no sense. The Warriors are the most logical home for him, and they need him, so they will almost surely get it done.
Re-signing Draymond, re-attaching him to Steph in the rotation, and having CP3 and Klay play with the second unit is probably Golden State’s best bet at making those minutes a non-disaster in several years. Will it actually work? Maybe! (Probably not. Teams just tend to struggle badly whenever their supernova star is not on the floor. Unless there is another supernova star on the team. And that’s not the case here.)
Golden State is probably going to be the team most tested by the new CBA, especially if it both re-signs Green and signs Klay to an extension. But the organization probably owes it to Steph to do just that, because there’s no realistic path to title contention that involves letting either or both of them walk out the door.