Could the Golden State Warriors somehow add another superstar? Local writer Tim Kawakami believes so…somehow.
Kawakami, who left the San Jose Mercury News to take over as editor-in-chief of the San Francisco edition of subscription-based sports site The Athletic thinks the team is going to make a run at forward Paul George.
He appeared on The Washington Post‘s “Posting Up” podcast with Tim Bontemps to discuss the theory. He admittedly doesn’t know how it will work financially, but thinks Golden State will push for the unexpected move, like it did with Kevin Durant ahead of last season.
Listen to the full episode here:
ProBasketballTalk‘s Dan Feldman transcribed the most significant portion of the George-to-Golden State discussion.
Marcus (Thompson) and I have teased this for more than a year. We think they’re going to go after Paul George, somehow. I think Joe Lacob is going to try to find a way to get Paul George. I don’t know how that would happen, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen when they were – three years ago, when they said they were go after Durant. Well, they didn’t say it. But they might have whispered it.
Feldman dives into the scenarios that could make them work, and more than likely, it involved the Oklahoma City Thunder, who just acquired George for what could amount to a one-year rental, playing ball in a sign-and-trade or mid-season deal, allowing Golden State to retain his Bird Rights and go above the salary cap.
More realistically, Golden State could use Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to sign-and-trade for George. But that’d require appeasing the Thunder, no easy task. The Warriors would also have to stay below the hard cap – which is barely feasible, unless George and/or Durant take large discounts. Even then, it’d be a tough squeeze.
Golden State could also try to trade for George before the trade deadline, acquiring his Bird Rights then spending any amount to re-sign him and Durant. But Oklahoma City would have even more leverage than the offseason. How could the Warriors entice the Thunder? If good enough, Oklahoma City might not be at-all willing to deal Russell Westbrook‘s co-star. (This could be a reason Westbrook has yet to sign a contract extension. If he waits to re-sign until next summer, he implicitly demands the Thunder not sell during the season – or leads to them trading Westbrook, too).
If we’re being honest, this just sounds like a step too far for all parties involved. The Warriors are already far-and-away the best team in the NBA. Even the fabled LeBron-and-George-to-Lakers moves probably doesn’t put L.A. in contention any time soon. It is hard to see a team making a move that puts them in the Warriors stratosphere as currently constituted, so taking George off the board doesn’t seem like it would be that important for them, especially when it would require the ‘big four’ already in the Bay Area to make further sacrifices.
As detailed above, this would also require a lot of help from the Thunder, who probably don’t have a ton of love for Golden State at the moment—certainly not enough to hand them over another superstar and cement a virtually unbeatable team.
I wouldn’t want to put anything past Lacob and his team, but this seems a bit farfetched. Even moreso than the Durant move did when it was first whispered around the NBA media over a year before it came to fruition.