Mike Dunleavy and the Warriors aim to come together again after failing to make the playoffs

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Golden State Warriors (Credits: NBA.com)

Golden State’s general manager, Mike Dunleavy Jr., along with the team’s front office, had a sense that this season might not meet the high expectations of a franchise with a history of winning NBA championships.

The season for Stephen Curry and his teammates was marked by losing significant leads, costly errors, and struggles to make crucial defensive stops when needed.

Coach Steve Kerr had hoped the Warriors, seeded tenth, could battle through the NBA’s play-in tournament to reach the playoffs, but they were eliminated after a 118-94 loss to Sacramento.

Dunleavy expressed disappointment with the outcome, acknowledging that they knew the season might end in disappointment. However, he sees the opportunity for improvement as a clear challenge for the team.

The defeat to the Kings was particularly painful, given their closely contested matchups throughout the season and the thrilling seven-game victory against Sacramento in last year’s playoffs.

“That game was our worst performance of the entire year,” Dunleavy commented. Now, they will regroup and assess how much of the team to keep unchanged. Securing Klay Thompson’s return, at the right cost, will be a key goal for the summer.

Thompson, aged 34, struggled in the loss to the Kings, missing all ten of his shots. He will become a free agent in July when his five-year contract worth nearly $190 million comes to an end.

Stephen Curry (Credits: SportsBible)

After over two and a half years recovering from injuries to his knee and Achilles tendon, Thompson returned in January 2022 and played a role in the Warriors’ most recent championship that spring.

“Of course, our top priority is to bring Klay back. I conveyed that to him yesterday,” Dunleavy expressed. “I believe our players, coaches, front office, and ownership all share the desire to have Klay return. He’s still a highly skilled player, and we have enough talent in our system and resources to enhance our roster and continue improving.”

The question Dunleavy faces is whether the Warriors can make another championship run with their core trio of Thompson, the 36-year-old Curry, and 34-year-old Draymond Green.

“There is immense value in having our three players remain Warriors for their entire careers,” Kerr remarked on Thursday. “Ending with dignity is significant.”

Thompson has frequently expressed his desire to remain with the Warriors long-term, although he noted it was too early on Wednesday to discuss his future as he needed time to decompress from the early end to the season.

Dunleavy conveyed he is “optimistic and hopeful” about reaching an agreement between the parties.

“I believe it’s mutual. He’s been with us for a long time and holds significant value for the organization,” Dunleavy remarked.

“We highly appreciate him. So, there’s no reason to think he’d want to leave or we wouldn’t want him back. I’m optimistic we can work it out, but it has to be a good deal for both sides, and we’ll figure that out.”

Dunleavy also expressed confidence in Green’s return, despite serving two suspensions this season.

The 2022 NBA champions need to improve defensively, Dunleavy emphasized, after missing the playoffs following last season’s exit in the Western Conference semifinals to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Steve Kerr (Credits: Yard Barker)

Kerr reflected on the challenges, stating, “We positioned ourselves to lose in an elimination game, and we did.” He will now focus on coaching Curry and the U.S. team at the Paris Games.

“Winning 46 games in a tough conference usually suffices, but not anymore. Succeeding in this conference is much harder now than nine years ago. This summer will involve a lot of self-reflection.”

This marked a challenging end to Dunleavy’s first season succeeding Bob Myers. However, it was also a year when rookies like Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski made significant contributions, and Jonathan Kuminga emerged as a promising rising star.

“We know exactly where we stand. Our performance wasn’t up to par,” Dunleavy acknowledged. “There’s no room for speculation or ‘what ifs.'”

In a conversation with Curry, Dunleavy expressed his disappointment that both the veterans and young players aren’t competing in the postseason.

“Everyone, not just in the Bay Area but worldwide, wants to see them compete at the highest level. So, it’s really disheartening that they’re unable to do so,” Dunleavy lamented. “I empathize with them. But it’s our own doing, and we have to accept it.”


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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