For more than a decade the Warriors have made a habit of asserting and confirming their unbridled ambition and hubris. Thinking big and acting on it has led to four championships and, in the process, grown their following from local to global.
And here they are with an opportunity to strengthen their goal for a fifth championship. There is, however, a dilemma.
Jrue Holiday, perhaps the best two-way guard in the NBA, is on the market. He has a championship ring. He’s 33 years old, younger than every member of Golden State’s core trio of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson core. Holiday is a model teammate who would make the Warriors stronger, and this front office never stops pondering ways to improve.
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The dilemma is in the form of veteran point guard Chris Paul. He’s 38, one of the 10 oldest players in the league. He’s a future Hall of Famer who has been with the Warriors for all of 12 weeks.
Any attempt to bring in Holiday would have to include Paul and going out. Simple, eh? Golden State would get five years younger, add an elite defender whose offense skills are more than respectable.
What would give the Warriors pause is trading CP3 only 12 weeks after acquiring him. After 12 weeks of talking him up, extolling his assets and declaring that he brings the leadership and court savvy needed for a deep playoff run. Paul has participated in numerous workouts with new teammates. There have been countless conversations with Golden State coaches.
The Warriors have done a commendable job of selling Paul to themselves and to a skeptical fan base that enjoyed nothing more than seeing him lose.
Golden State Warriors
“I'm thrilled to coach him,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters this week. “He's one of the greatest competitors I've ever seen; his command of the game, the way he controls the action.
“His teams tend to get a great shot possession after possession. He understands what wins.”
Kerr’s assessment is accurate. It’s why the Warriors went after Paul the first week of summer. To move him a few days before training camp would smear all the breathless praise and paint the front office a deep shade of indecision.
That’s the risk. That’s what the Warriors must weigh. There is potential downside in shedding CP3 so quickly, even if it means adding a younger player with a very clear upside – and probably a more seamless fit into the team’s culture.
After all the franchise has done to build credibility around the league and beyond, evolving from a foundering outpost to a powerhouse some insist the NBA wants to impede, the last thing the Warriors want is to invite skepticism about their integrity.
Generating a measure of rectitude was the first order of business when Joe Lacob, Peter Guber & Co. rescued the franchise from the clumsy, unsound leadership of previous owner Chris Cohan.
Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors seven years ago because, after careful consideration, he concluded he was joining a stable and respected organization, one focused on overall quality and consistently chasing championships.
In 2013, three years before KD’s arrival, Andre Iguodala reached the same conclusion. Two days after KD signed, another deep thinker, David West, saw Golden State as the most desirable destination. He signed a minimum contract to put a bow on a stellar career.
Giving up on Chris Paul before he has played a game – after shouting that he is the missing piece – almost certainly would have players around the league – particularly future free agents – to wonder about the integrity of the Warriors.
What perception would be created if ownership, management and coaches would be so quick to turn on the vision they claimed to love? Which is not to suggest the Warriors shouldn’t consider Holiday. He has been voted to the All-Defensive team five times, including the last three seasons. His shooting splits in Milwaukee – 49.4 percent from the field, 39.5 from deep, 80.3 from the line – were impressive. He would be a terrific Warrior.
Indeed, if CP3 already had logged a few games with the Warriors, such a trade might not require second thought. As is? The Warriors have a lot to consider.
Sometimes, the impact of a trade goes beyond simply obtaining the most attractive player.