Warriors’ Offseason Plans Could Be Ruined by LeBron James and Lakers

Steph Curry

Getty Steph Curry guards LeBron James in a January game.

The Golden State Warriors have one big priority this offseason, but LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers could be standing in the way.

Golden State’s front office has made it clear that adding veteran players is a top priority this offseason, a goal that reportedly comes at the urging of the team’s trio of star players and has a greater sense of urgency after snagging two top 15 draft picks who could use some guidance. But finding the right players are the right price could be harder than the team first envisioned, a new report suggests.

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Lakers Could Dominate Free Agency Landscape

Through their five-year run to the NBA Finals, the Warriors paired the lights-out shooting of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry with a number of veterans who filled important roles at an affordable price. Attracting those players became much more difficult in the last two seasons, with general manager Bob Myers saying Klay Thompson’s season-ending injury led many veterans to pass on the Warriors in favor of teams in title contention.

Just before last week’s NBA draft, Myers said he hopes the return of Thompson will allow the Warriors to win the free agency battles that had been lost last season.

“We need to add a couple guys,” Myers said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “We need some veterans. I don’t know who that will be. We’ve got to find out if we can win a tie; if we offer somebody something, how do they feel about us? Like I said last year, we were close on some guys, but Klay’s injury, I don’t blame the players, they said, ‘look, we’re going to go somewhere else.’ ”

It may have just gotten more difficult to break those ties. As Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported, the landscape has changed since the Lakers landed Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster deal, and some of the veterans that the Warriors may have targeted now prefer to join LeBron James and his new superteam.

“With Westbrook now headed to Los Angeles, multiple league personnel contacted by B/R expect there to be significant interest from several veterans, including DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony, to forgo higher salary opportunities elsewhere and join the Lakers in pursuit of a championship,” Fischer wrote.

Warriors Bring Infusion of Youth

While Myers has made it clear that the team wants to add more veterans, next season’s roster could rely more heavily on younger players. The team committed last season to giving critical minutes to No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, though the end of his season was cut short due to injury. The team also decided against trading either of its lottery picks, using them to snag  Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau noted that this decision could pay off for the Warriors down the line, though may not bring the immediate impact next season. He noted that Kuminga could struggle for meaningful minutes next season given that the Warriors hope to jump back into title contention — even though he was seasoned in the G-League last year, where he averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game — but looks to be a great long-term investment.

“Wings in Kuminga’s mold are among the league’s most prized players,” he wrote. “His ability to bully his way into the key and throw down dunks is reminiscent of Paul George and Victor Oladipo, only Kuminga doesn’t turn 19 until Oct. 6 and has limited formal training.”

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