After five straight seasons in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors failed to make the playoffs in 2020 and 2021 as they persevered through injuries to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
Thompson was gone for the entirety of both campaigns, while Curry played just five games in 2019-20. With Curry's top-three finish in MVP voting in 2020-21 and Thompson finally set to return, there's a chance the Warriors' title window may still be open, if even just a crack.
So, it should come as little surprise that Golden State is reportedly interested in using some of its assets to potentially acquire another star.
"Golden State has indeed signaled a willingness to trade the 7th and 14th overall picks, league sources say, but the Warriors are said to be trying to construct a deal that brings back 'a star,'" longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote. "Star translates to Washington's Bradley Beal or Portland's Damian Lillard—neither of whom figures to be available for a trade package in which, irrespective of how many draft assets are attached, Andrew Wiggins is the standout veteran."
Would it make a difference if Wiggins is more salary filler than standout veteran? Would the inclusion of last season's No. 2 pick, James Wiseman, bring more intrigue? The answer to both questions is probably yes, but that still may not be enough. Ultimately, the Warriors landing a player like Beal or Lillard might require a trade demand from either.
And if that happens, Golden State should be ready and willing to swoop in with a massive offer. Curry is 33 years old. Thompson and Draymond Green are both 31. If the Warriors are going to make another title run in the ever-brutal Western Conference with this core, they need to act fast.
So, under the assumption that the situations of Beal, Lillard or another star deteriorate (or at least become more clear) between now and the NBA Draft, here are some packages Golden State could send out.
The Trade: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, two 2021 first-round picks (Nos. 7 and 14), a 2023 first-round pick swap, a 2025 first-round pick swap and a 2026 first-round pick for Damian Lillard
Weeks after Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported that the reaction to the Portland Trail Blazers' hiring of Chauncey Billups may push Lillard "out the door," The Athletic's Anthony Slater wrote that Golden State might be interested in being a landing spot.
"They'd make a call and have already internally discussed the idea, as I'm sure most contenders have, considering the rising smoke out of Portland," Slater wrote.
If Portland digs its heels in on wanting a higher-level vet than Wiggins, the Warriors would likely be out of contention to land Lillard. But if they're trading the longtime face of the franchise, they should be looking at a full-scale teardown and rebuild. Wiseman and picks hold far more value in that context.
Advanced stats hated Wiseman's rookie year, and Golden State was far worse when he was on the floor, but it's still easy to see what made him the No. 2 pick just one year ago. He's seven feet tall, runs the floor like a wing and has a fluid-looking jump shot that suggests stretch big potential. And his current coach sees a Deandre Ayton-like developmental path.
"[The Suns] really streamlined his game," Steve Kerr recently said on 95.7 The Game. "You think back a couple years ago and he was kind of all over the map. You could tell how gifted he was, but you weren’t exactly sure what he was. They’ve figured it out. I'm watching Ayton quite a bit and I’m thinking a lot about how we can use James and simplify the game and make him really effective for us next year."
If a team trades for Wiseman, they'll likely have a similar optimism in mind. But even with that, the picks would likely be more intriguing for Portland.
Two bites at the lottery apple in 2021 is one thing (this class projects plenty of strength), but the future selections could hold more potential. In 2023, the Warriors' stars will be, at best, at the tail end of their primes. In 2025 and 2026, they'll be past them. And if Portland insisted on even more, Golden State would have to seriously consider giving it up.
Such a package would instantly put Portland in line for an Oklahoma City Thunder or New Orleans Pelicans-like reboot. And if Lillard is determined to leave, that's probably what the Blazers should want.
For Golden State, this would be one of those "accumulate talent and figure it out later" situations. There's a ton of positional and role overlap between Lillard and Curry, but the latter certainly got plenty of reps off the ball when Kevin Durant was in town. Moving Thompson to the 3 probably isn't a big deal in today's increasingly positionless game. His shooting works at any position, and he'll still likely be expected to defend the opposition's best wing.
Such lineups would demand a lot of Green and Kevon Looney on defense, but the offensive potential is almost limitless.
The Trade: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, two 2021 first-round picks (Nos. 7 and 14), a 2023 first-round pick swap, a 2025 first-round pick swap and a 2026 first-round pick for Bradley Beal
Deduct points for lack of creativity if you must, but it's hard to imagine much of a difference between the supposed packages Golden State might offer to Portland or the Washington Wizards for their All-Star guards.
As is the case with Portland, if Washington opts to move Beal, it should immediately embrace a full-scale rebuild. And though Wiggins' and Russell Westbrook's contracts are far from ideal for starting over, a huge haul of picks would certainly ease the pain of paying them. It might make it a little easier to accept less favorable deals to unload either veteran.
For the Warriors, Beal might make a bit more sense than Lillard (even if the former is probably the better player in a vacuum). There's less potential for tension over on-ball possessions. Beal has had plenty of usage in recent years, but he's also played alongside John Wall and Westbrook, both of whom need plenty of touches themselves.
Perhaps that's part of why Golden State is reportedly eying Beal's situation in Washington.
"Some on the Golden State Warriors are watching closely the next move of Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal," Marcus Thompson II wrote for The Athletic. "Should he become available, he’s at the top of the offseason wishlist."
Assembling a high-end bench would be difficult, but that's a problem for most star-laden teams. A starting five of Curry, Beal, Thompson, Green and Looney would likely be worth it.
The Trade: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman and a 2021 first-round pick (No. 7) for Pascal Siakam
"The interest in Beal (and Lillard) underscores the prioritizing of another reliable offensive creator," Thompson wrote. "Golden State had the 20th-ranked offense even with Curry averaging a career-high 32 points on 48.2 percent shooting."
The natural reaction to that bit of reporting is that the Warriors would be looking almost exclusively at guards, but offensive creation can come from all over the floor these days. And at the outset of Golden State's dynasty, Andrew Bogut's playmaking from the high post and top of the key opened the floor for Curry, Thompson, Green and Harrison Barnes (he averaged 4.1 assists per 75 possessions in 2014-15 and 2015-16).
And while Pascal Siakam may not have the same natural feel for passing that Bogut did, he's coming off a 4.5-assist average in 2020-21. He's shown an ability to attack closeouts off the dribble, kick out of drives and even hit some threes (an element Bogut never brought).
"...there is a widespread expectation that the Warriors will use No. 7 and Wiseman, in particular, to seek more immediate upgrades to the roster," John Hollinger wrote for The Athletic. "One name to watch: Pascal Siakam."
The other benefit to this deal is it would cost the Warriors significantly less than it would to acquire Lillard or Beal. Siakam's lower annual salary makes it easier to find some flexibility, too.
For the Toronto Raptors, this is almost certainly a short-term downgrade. Wiggins is a better three-point shooter and improved as an on-ball defender in 2020-21, but he's smaller and less versatile than Siakam.
The selling points would be pretty simple (and require a leap of faith). Toronto's books are already pretty clean, but there may be some value in Wiggins' contract expiring a year sooner than Siakam's. This package also offers a shot a long-term answer at center in Wiseman and another shot a talented piece to develop alongside him, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby with the No. 7 pick.