It’s been a while since Golden State entered a season without being viewed as the undisputed favorite to win it all. In many ways, things will feel different in Northern California this upcoming season, as the Warriors will play in a new arena without the championship expectations to which they’ve grown accustomed.
“This summer was painful in many ways, losing the guys that we did,” said coach Steve Kerr said. “But reassuring, in the sense that we brought back some key guys who are going to help us kind of get to that next era, whatever that looks like.”
The Warriors lost Kevin Durant in free agency and cut ties with several key contributors from their championship runs, including Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Golden State retained some stability after the franchise inked Klay Thompson to a five-year deal.
Draymond Green also signed a new deal this summer, putting pen to paper on a four-year extension. Kerr said that he and GM Bob Myers have discussed securing Green long-term for quite some time.
“I think every player sort of faces these moments where they’ve got to decide, ‘Am I going to mitigate risk and sign something now or play it out?’ That’s up to them,” Kerr said. “Obviously, everyone goes about it differently. But it didn’t surprise me that Draymond signed. He wanted to be here. He’s talked about it all along.”
D’Angelo Russell will join the mix and Kerr called the point guard a “great young talent” who’s going to “fit right in” with the group.
“Without Klay, especially, we’ll need D’Angelo’s scoring and it’s up to us as a staff to figure out how best to use him to shake the team, shake the offense. And we’ll figure it out,” Kerr said.
With Thompson slated to miss considerable time next season, the Warriors will have to rely on young, unproven options to get them through the year. Kerr is embracing the challenge of building the team back up to a championship level.
“I’d rather be the favorite again, to be honest with you,” Kerr said. “But I like coaching. Every year’s a little different. This will be a lot different. But I’m excited to coach the guys who are coming back and the many young, new players that we’ve got. It’s a new challenge and I’m excited for it.”