Reporter: Warriors Could Miss Playoffs Next Season

Without Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors will struggle to even make the playoffs in a stacked Western Conference

June 26, 2019 - 9:03 am
Steph Curry Warriors NBA Finals

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The Golden State Warriors played in their fifth straight NBA Finals this past season. Next year, they might not even make the playoffs.

“It’s really crazy how quickly the landscape (changes),” San Francisco Chronicle Warriors reporter Connor Letourneau said on Ferrall on the Bench. “This year, I don’t think there was any team in the West that could threaten the Warriors, but so many teams are going to be better. Worst case scenario, it’s a real question: can the Warriors even make the playoffs? If you think about the toll that Steph Curry is going to have to endure to put this team on his back without Klay, and we all know about his ankle issues. You’re one more injury away from missing the playoffs.”

While the Warriors hope to return Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, neither will factor into their on-court plan in 2019.

“Even if they both come back, they will both be out most, if not all, of next season recovering form their injuries,” Letourneau said. “So the way the salary cap works, it’s going to be really hard for the Warriors to replace those guys with pieces that are even close to the same ability level. All they’re going to have to work with is the mid-level exception and the minimum contract. Best case scenario, you get the disabled players exception if KD comes back, which would give you another 9.2 million to play with, but it’s going to be a less talented roster next season for sure.”

If the Warriors lose Durant, they could still contend for a title in 2020-21, but they’re going to need to do a better job in free agency – and the draft.

“I think they can (contend), but I think they’re going to need to do a little better job of rounding out the roster than they have in the past couple years,” Letourneau said. “They’re going to need to hit on a couple steals late in the draft, kind of like what the Spurs did. The reason the Spurs were able to stay relevant for 20 years was after they got Tim Duncan and David Robinson, they went and they got Tony Parker at 28. They got Manu Ginobili in the 50s. They got Kawhi Leonard outside the lottery. The Warriors are going to need to do that. I’m not sure if Steph, Klay and Draymond is going to be enough to win a title with how good Toronto looks, assuming Kawhi comes back.”

Letourneau was also asked about Ric Bucher’s report that Durant is unhappy with the Warriors and their medical staff given what happened in the NBA Finals. Letourneau found the report suspect.

“I don’t want to throw Ric Bucher under the bus,” he said, “but I was a little confused by the sourcing. It was anonymous sourcing, but it came across in a way that was a little vague. You weren’t sure if the people he was talking to actually had direct knowledge of the situation or if they were just speculating. . . . To me, it’s pretty flimsy. I had not heard that from any of my contacts within the organization. I wold not feel comfortable reporting that. I don’t know what to believe, but I don’t necessarily trust that reporting.”

Click below to listen to Letourneau’s interview in its entirety.