Warriors Notes: Starting Lineup, Kuminga, Poole, Payton II

The Warriors have found a devastating lineup to close out games, and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic believes it’s just a matter of time until that group becomes the starters as well. Stephen Curry has been coming off the bench since returning from injury, and Thompson notes it would be easy to transfer his minutes back into a starter’s role. Thompson cites a “high likelihood” that the change will take place when Golden State begins its second-round series, if not sooner.

No matter what coach Steve Kerr decides to do with his rotation, Jordan Poole‘s role shouldn’t be changed, Thompson adds. Thompson states that Poole has been one of the Warriors’ best players for about two months, and the team has a 48-19 record with him as a starter.

The closing lineup, which also includes Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, has overcome concerns about its lack of size with aggressive defense and rebounding in the first-round series against Denver. Looking ahead to the next round, the author believes the smaller lineup provides favorable matchups against either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga was a regular during the season, but he has only seen eight combined minutes in three games against the Nuggets. Team officials expect him to have a role later in the playoffs, Thompson adds in the same piece, so his playing time might increase in Game 4. “I keep reminding all the guys every day that, (in) the playoffs, things change at the drop of a hat,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to be prepared for everything. And have a lot of proof of that over the years. We’ve had a lot of players who have had to fill in and step up and play big roles in big series. … A big part of the playoffs is everybody staying ready.”
  • Poole’s improved play will set up a tricky extension decision for the Warriors this summer, writes Keith Smith of Spotrac. Poole is eligible for an extension that could be worth up to a projected $185MM+ over five years, but even if he agrees to take less, it will present an extra salary burden for a team that’s already paying nearly $350MM in combined salaries and luxury tax. Smith suggests something in the range of $100MM over four years might be a reasonable compromise, adding that the Warriors value Poole too much to let him get away.
  • Gary Payton II was considering applying for a job in the Warriors’ video department if he hadn’t made the team in training camp, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN“He’s been released so many times,” Kerr said. “It’s just him preparing for whatever is next. But he played so well for us, that was never going to be a possibility.”
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