Steve Kerr

How Dunleavy has impressed Kerr in ‘difficult' Warriors offseason

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LAS VEGAS – His statue one day will be visited by droves of fans outside Chase Center. When Klay Thompson’s playing career comes to an end, his jersey will hang from the rafters among the franchise’s all-time greats. No Warrior will ever wear No. 11 again. 

The Warriors also had to pivot in a hurry. They couldn’t waste time in such a key offseason for a franchise that has seen the lights turn off for what was one of the best dynasties in any sport.

Knowing Thompson’s mindset to move on from the only NBA home he has known to join the Dallas Mavericks in free agency on a three-year, $50 million contract, Warriors general manager Mike Dunleavy quickly had to shift his focus in finding creative ways to improve a roster that failed to make the NBA playoffs last season. 

Did he ever, too. Steve Kerr’s sole focus for the time being is leading Team USA Men’s Basketball to a gold medal at the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. The Warriors coach also has been lockstep in every decision Dunleavy has made, and for how much Kerr wanted Thompson to remain a Warrior, he couldn’t be happier with the strings Dunleavy has been able to pull thus far. 

“I think Mike Dunleavy’s done an incredible job,” Kerr said Sunday at UNLV after Team USA’s second day of training camp. 

Thompson wasn’t the only future Hall of Famer the Warriors have lost in the last week. Chris Paul’s one-year experiment in Golden State’s colors fell far short of expectations. To move on from Thompson taking his talents to Dallas, Dunleavy had to do something that has never been done before in NBA history. 

He pulled off the league’s first six-team trade. Thompson technically was acquired by the Mavs through a sign-and-trade, where the Warriors added Buddy Hield and Kyle Anderson. The other teams involved outside the Warriors and Mavs were the Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets.

Hield came from Philadelphia, where he joined the 76ers from the Indiana Pacers at last season’s trade deadline. Anderson spent the last two seasons in Minnesota after playing his previous four years for the Memphis Grizzlies. 

The Warriors also signed versatile veteran guard De’Anthony Melton to a $12.9 million contract through the nontaxpayer midlevel exception.

Dunleavy even maneuvered smaller moves before those bigger names in trading for Lindy Waters III from the Oklahoma City Thunder, reacquiring the No. 52 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft to take Quinten Post out of Boston College and signed back-to-back ACC Defensive Player of the Year Reece Beekman to a two-way contract.

“To rebound from losing Chris and then Klay, and then using the cap to his advantage – he and his group have done a great job,” Kerr said. “We’ve signed three really good players, managed our finances really well and Mike is wonderful at his job in every regard.

“He’s a great partner, too, through these difficult times. Great guy to be able to lean on.” 

There’s no replacing Thompson, especially from an emotional standpoint. Kerr knows that. Dunleavy knows that. As do Steph Curry and Draymond Green. 

Few have ever possessed the basketball IQ of Paul, who will be entering his 20th NBA season at 39 years old when suits up for the San Antonio Spurs this next season. 

There also is the fact of the matter in the Warriors hitting their many needs while still searching for a second star to pair alongside Curry. They’ve added knock-down 3-point shooting in Hield. Melton also brings shooting and secondary scoring, as well as athleticism and point of attack defense. Anderson gives them length, defense and plenty of experience. 

In a league where continuity is king, twists and turns have the Warriors closer to their goal than where they just finished, near the bottom of a loaded Western Conference ready to take its gloves off and duke it out on a daily basis.

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