Golden State Warriors players and coaches celebrate with the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors made a strong case to be called one of the best teams in NBA history after a near-perfect run through the playoffs resulted in their second title in three years.
The scary part for the NBA’s 29 other teams? This may just be the beginning.
That is because the Warriors boast an intimidating starting lineup featuring four All-Stars in their 20s who are likely to be with the team for years to come.
Two-time reigning league MVP Stephen Curry is expected to sign the richest contract in NBA history this offseason as the league’s best three-point marksman will be eligible for a five-year deal worth an estimated $207 million.
“I’m just excited to do something special,” Curry said during the presentation of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy on Monday in Oakland after his team beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. “I’m ready to do it again.”
If so he will have help from shooting guard Klay Thompson and do-it-all power forward Draymond Green, who are already locked into long-term contracts with the Warriors.
And then there is Kevin Durant. The 7-foot (2.13 m) small forward and 2017 Finals MVP has said that after his controversial decision leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Warriors last offseason, he is not eager to move again.
Durant is so dedicated to winning multiple championships that he is reportedly considering taking less money from the team in order to free up space to re-sign key reserves like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.
That all spells trouble for the rest of the league, who saw the Warriors capture a title in 2015, win a record-setting 73 games the next regular season before Durant moved to the Bay Area and the team became a juggernaut.
“They’re going to be around for a while,” Cavaliers forward LeBron James said after suffering his second Finals defeat in three years to a Warriors team that went 16-1 in the playoffs.
“Pretty much all their big-name guys are in their 20s, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down.”
And the team’s coaching staff is equally formidable.
After being sidelined for part of last season and again during the 2017 playoffs with back pain, head coach Steve Kerr returned during the Finals and said he intends to coach “for a long time.”
General Manager Bob Myers, who helped assemble the Warriors lineup after the franchise spent years as the league’s laughing stock, and savvy owner Joe Lacob fill out the rest of the team.
The big question this offseason is what, if anything, will contenders like Cleveland, San Antonio and Boston do to counter the champion Warriors.
Some reports have suggested James, the best player on the planet, may head to California to join the Lakers or Clippers in 2018, likely bringing talented players along in an effort to topple the Warriors if the Cavaliers fall short again next year.
One thing is clear – if no one can assemble a truly special team, the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy could very well reside in the Bay Area for years to come.
“After the parade, the narrative will shift to ‘So, what does the league plan to do about this?'” wrote Ray Ratto, a veteran Bay Area sports columnist.
“Right now, the only answer seems to be ‘not a damned thing.’ Because that’s the only answer that makes sense. This is Golden State’s era.” — By Rory Carroll | OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
(Editing by Frank Pingue)