Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Dunleavy ‘continuing to evaluate' Warriors as trade deadline looms

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SAN FRANCISCO – With the NBA trade deadline two weeks away, Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy is on the lookout. Help is needed.

By all appearances and metrics, it likely will take a move, maybe two, to push the team back into the playoff race.

After opening the second half of the season with a 134-133 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night at Chase Center, the Warriors are 19-23, eight games below expectations.

"The assessment of the team and the roster has been challenging," Dunleavy told NBC Sports Bay Area during an appearance on "Warriors Pregame Live." "We've got great depth, which we went into the season with. We've had some injuries and some suspensions. We've been able to mitigate that some with our depth, but it hasn't always translated to wins.

"So, I'm sitting here two weeks out from the trade deadline just honestly continuing to evaluate this team."

Which is GM-speak for "nothing is imminent unless someone gives us a savior – but it's probable something will happen as we approach Feb. 8."

Almost any move will have to address a defense that ranks among the league's leakiest. Golden State has given up four 70-point first halves in its last nine games, including 75 to the Kings on Thursday.

On a grander scale, the Warriors through Wednesday ranked 24th in defensive rating (117.5) this season. It gets worse. What disappoints everyone on the roster, the coaching staff and the front office is the sharp decline of late. Their 126.0 rating in January ranks 30th, dead last, for the month.

Not coincidently, the team's most notable defensive players, Draymond Green and Gary Payton II, have not been on the court together at all this month. Green missed eight of the first 10 games this month, and GP2 has missed nine.

Help, in this instance, should be boldfaced in all caps.

"It's certainly something we want shore up," Dunleavy said. "No question about it, especially the last 10-15 games. Our defense has really struggled. To get Draymond back I will help.

"But a lot of times, it's hard at the trade deadline to bring in a player or players that are just going to dramatically improve your defense. Look, if that player is available, we'll look to pursue it."
That sounds like a strong indication that defense is a high priority on the shopping list, but Dunleavy wasn't quite finished.

"I think it's got to come from within," he said of repairing the defense. "And that comes from everybody. That's coaches, that's players, that's the whole deal of we've got to tighten this thing up and find a way to be better defensively because, frankly, offensively, we've been great."

The Warriors entered Thursday with a 116.9 offensive rating (12th) this season that rose to 121.5 (sixth) for January – even while Stephen Curry's efficiency metrics declined.

Which brings us to the man who has picked up the offense at an impressive rate -- Jonathan Kuminga. The third-year forward has scored in double figures in 22 consecutive games. He has scored at least 20 points in his last five games.

No less impressive, Kuminga entered Thursday's game shooting 59.3 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from beyond the arc. Kuminga is someone the Warriors have no desire to trade.

He is also someone whose trade value has increased dramatically.

"I've seen a tremendous amount of growth from him, not only on the court with his basketball skills and play, but as a person," Dunleavy said. "He came in at 18, 19 years old and he's still young. But the amount of maturation during those couple years in life is big, I think in the way he's handled adversity."

As an example, Dunleavy mentioned a provocative statement JK made in early January, expressing displeasure in his role and feeling marginalized by coach Steve Kerr. Kuminga played well in a Jan. 4 game against Denver but curiously was benched for the final 18 minutes as the Warriors blew an 18-point fourth-quarter lead.

Kerr and Kuminga appear to have resolved the issue to each's satisfaction.

"In those situations, you go one of two ways," Dunleavy said. "Things can go sideways with the player and the coach, or things can get better. Things have gotten better, and I think that's a tribute to Steve but also Jonathan.

"That's a good relationship we have going right now. That's important. This is a really good, young, important player for us coming off his best game pro (Wednesday) night on both ends of the court."

Again, the Warriors have been emphatic in their desire to keep Kuminga, whose salary – $6 million this season and $7.5 million next season, which is very manageable for a team with the highest payroll in the league.

There almost certainly will be changes, somewhere, somehow, over the next two weeks. The Warriors, surely CEO Joe Lacob, is exasperated with where things are as they move into the second half of the season.

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