Damian Lillard

Why Warriors aren't shaken by Lillard-Bucks blockbuster trade

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With many in the NBA world trying to regain balance in the wake of a trade that quaked the earth on this wacky Wednesday, the folks at Chase Center are yawning and stretching and going back to the task at hand.

The Warriors are, after all, barely affected by the stunning three-way trade that sends Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers to the Bucks, Jrue Holliday from Milwaukee to Portland, and Jusuf Nurkic and two rotation players from the Blazers to the Suns.

The Warriors remain exactly where they were before Wednesday went NBA nuclear. They are looking up at not only the Denver Nuggets, defending champions and favorites to win the Western Conference, but also the Suns, who are widely considered the second-most dangerous team in the conference.

Golden State already was, and still is light years ahead of Portland, where those in management are committed to a youth movement they hope will mature before 2030.

Golden State’s fever dream of someday landing Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo – always a figment of creative imaginations – dies a second death.

As for Phoenix, the Warriors already considered it an imposing barrier, and that remains as true on this week as it was last week.

The Suns are slightly improved. They sacrificed a bit of defense from a roster that didn’t have much but received sorely needed depth. In swapping the double-double center that is Deandre Ayton for the fragile blue-collar beast that is Nurkic, Phoenix still presents a roster that shouts a one-way message to opponents:

“We know we won’t lock you up, but you know we can outscore you because we have Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.”

Opening night at Chase Center, with the Warriors playing host to the Suns, a “circle the date” event from the start, is no more – or any less – appealing than it was before.

Golden State likely was less stunned than most observers. The entire solar system knew Lillard would be sent away from Portland, as requested, and most made the safe assumption he was bound for the Eastern Conference. It is done. Not a single tear will be shed by the Warriors in knowing they will face Dame no more than twice in the regular season.

With the Celtics favored to win the East, the trade news surely raised eyebrows throughout New England. With the two-man game between Lillard and Antetokounmpo projected to create nightmares, the Bucks have moved from co-favorites in the East to favorites to win the NBA Finals.

The Warriors can watch from a distance. They were sixth on the odds board Tuesday and they remain in that position on Wednesday.

“Our players have been in the gym throughout the summer,” general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. told reporters on Monday. “Good, young development program we have going. And our veterans are starting to trickle back in now. I just think we are in a good place mentally, physically, healthy going into camp and looking forward to a great season.”

There is rejoicing in Milwaukee. Melancholy sadness in Portland. Relief in Phoenix. Those in Golden State merely paused for a moment before shrugging and resuming discussion on details that directly affect them.

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