The Golden State Warriors just completed their second straight playoff season, something that hadn’t been done in the franchise for more than 20 years. But they head into the offseason with plenty of doubt and uncertainty.
The Warriors, who finished the regular season with a 51-31 record, don’t seem far away from being an elite team. Then again, in the rugged Western Conference, you’re never far from missing the playoffs entirely.
Here are five burning questions for the Warriors heading into the offseason:
Who replaces Mark Jackson?
Now that Jackson has been relieved of his duties, the question is: Who will take over? Steve Kerr, Fred Hoiberg and Stan Van Gundy are names that already have surfaced in a number of reports.
First and foremost, let's see how the team responds to the news of Jackson's ouster. Stephen Curry, the team's best player, had vocally supported Jackson in recent days. And it was obvious over the course of this season, and his three-year tenure, that Jackson got his team to play hard.
One criticism of Jackson was that he wasn't solid with X's and O's and strategy. It stands to reason that the Warriors will look for a head coach with strength in that department. But how the new coach will function with this team remains unknown.
Can the Warriors make an impact trade?
Before we answer that question, we should ask: Do they need to? Yes, Golden State was eliminated in the first round of the postseason, but we all know how bunched up the Western Conference is.
You could make the case the Warriors need a tweak, not an overhaul.
But that’s not really Lacob’s style, as he’s acknowledged during the course of his tenure that he’s not afraid of taking risks.
If the Warriors are to make a trade, power forward David Lee would seem to be the most likely candidate to go. There’s a belief among some that Draymond Green, who played well in the postseason, would be better suited for big minutes at the 4 position rather than Lee.
Green isn’t the offensive player Lee is, but he’s a good rebounder, rugged defender and ultra-competitive. Trading Lee will not be easy. He’s got two more years left on his deal with more than $30 million weighing on the books.
If the Warriors are to trade Lee, they also might have to part with one of their young pieces—Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson or Green.
Is this there more to Andre Iguodala?
There seems to be a wide variety of opinion on Iguodala. His supporters believe he’s an elite defender and quintessential glue guy, and that his game can’t be judged by statistics alone. His detractors think he’s a good defender, though far from a stopper, and that his offensive game seems shot.
Iguodala, who averaged 9.3 points per game this season, failed to average in double figures for the first time since 2004-05, his rookie season with Philadelphia. Most would say Iguodala wasn’t acquired by the Warriors last offseason to be a big scorer, but many figured he would be more of factor than he was at that end.
The hope with Iguodala is that perhaps he overly deferred to his new teammates in his first season with the Warriors, or that an early season hamstring injury lingered.
Whatever the reason, it seems apparent that if this is all there is to Iguodala, then the Warriors might not have gotten their money’s worth on the four-year, $48 million deal they signed him to last summer.
What’s going to happen with Klay Thompson?
Thompson, who just completed his third NBA season, is eligible for a contract extension this summer. Lacob indicated weeks ago that re-signing Thompson is a mere formality.
While it seems like a no-brainer to keep Thompson in the fold, it also means that the Warriors would be adding another big-money player to their payroll, tempting the luxury tax in future years and perhaps hampering flexibility.
Andrew Bogut, Curry, Iguodala and Lee are all under contract for at least the next two seasons, and each at more than $10.6 million per year.
How much of a concern is Bogut’s health?
It’s always going to be a concern at this point. Yes, he played 67 games in 2013-14, the most he’s played since 2009-10, but he wasn’t available for the postseason because of a broken rib. It seems apparent that the Warriors will have to find a way to manage Bogut’s playing time over the next three years of his deal.
The good news, though, is the Warriors have depth at the center position, though it didn’t seem that way against the Clippers. Marreese Speights is under contract for next season, and Festus Ezeli is expected to be at full strength come training camp.
Ezeli missed the entire season after undergoing right knee surgery. But Ezeli had a solid rookie season in 2012-13, and he gives the Warriors a big and active body on the interior.
The Warriors also expect Ognjen Kuzmic to contribute next season also. Kuzmic played much of the season for the Santa Cruz Warriors.