Warriors Insider Floats Wild Trade Securing 2022 Champion’s Return

Gary Payton II Warriors Finals Win

Getty Gary Payton II poses with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after the Golden State Warriors' title-clinching victory over the Boston Celtics.

The Golden State Warriors‘ surprisingly slow start to the 2022-23 campaign isn’t the result of just one thing. Outside of Stephen Curry’s otherworldly, MVP-type performance over the team’s first 14 games, the Dubs are a veritable hot mess.

Having said that, shortfalls in the second unit and on the defensive end have been the team’s biggest issues thus far.

Both were areas of strength last season when Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. were still on the roster. Alas, the Warriors’ self-imposed luxury tax hell — combined with their desire to get youngsters James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody more minutes — precluded them from keeping the vets around.

The Wiseman aspect has been disheartening, especially for fans of the team’s two-timeline plan. Through his first 11 appearances this season, the former No. 2 overall pick is scuffling to the tune of a minus-24.4 net rating. Things have gotten so bad that the Dubs saw no other option but to send him to the G League earlier this week.

In the wake of that move, team insiders are suddenly joining armchair GMs in breaking down potential trade scenarios involving the blue-chipper.

Kawakami Muses About Wiseman-Payton Swap

Amid Wiseman’s surprising Sea Dubs assignment, The Athletic‘s Tim Kawakami went deep on the baller’s current situation with the club. In doing so, he identified a handful of conclusions that can probably be drawn about the team — and Wiseman in particular — now that we have a legitimate sample size to examine.

None of them were good if you’re part of Wiseman’s Bay Area cheering section, but one of them did offer a measure of hope where saving the Dubs’ season is concerned.

According to the longtime team beat writer and insider, Golden State could potentially “get something useful for Wiseman in a trade.” And he went on to cite the fan fave and lockdown ace Payton as a potential target.

Wrote Kawakami:

After signing GP2 to a three-year, $26.1 million contract last offseason, he hasn’t played at all this season after core-muscle surgery. Maybe Portland starts falling a bit and wants to recoup assets. Maybe it can be a three-team trade. However it works, presuming the Warriors don’t demand a premium draft pick back (and I don’t think they would get one, anyway), Wiseman would be an asset for another team with another timeline.

Also, the Warriors would’ve loved to bring GP2 back, but almost $9 million a year was way too much with their luxury-tax issues. If they flipped Wiseman for Payton, though, it would save the Warriors money. And they know GP2 (if healthy) fits them perfectly.

At the very least, it’s food for thought.

Curry Among NBA’s Biggest Surprises

Steph’s status as a transcendental talent isn’t a new thing, but what he’s been able to accomplish on the floor this season as a guy in his mid-30s is, without question, a whole new level of Steph-ness.

As such, Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley saw fit to list the Warriors cornerstone as one of the biggest surprises in the Association through the first month of the new campaign. Wrote Buckley:

Curry, ever the innovator, has taken the novel approach of proving that old dogs—er, 34-year-old, two-time MVPs—can learn new tricks. His 52.3 field-goal percentage would top his previous personal-best with ease, his 31.5 points per game are the second-most of his career and his turnover percentage has never been lower (10.0)…

At some point, Curry’s career will crest and he’ll have to get by on being less and less of a percentage of the player he once was. For now, though, he’s not only fending off decline, he’s also somehow still ascending.

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