Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies
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On paper, there's a halfway plausible story you can tell yourself about the Golden State Warriors still being a fringe NBA title contender. First, they have Stephen Curry, who still makes you believe in the impossible. Next, they have played a league-high 32 "clutch" games this season, meaning the score was within five points or less inside the final five minutes. They are 15-17 in those games, including a pair of one-point losses to the Kings and Lakers inside the last week. 

If you squint, you can almost see a scenario in which this team with all the pedigree, with the 1A superstar still in place, could be one trade away from getting over the hump, first in some of these close games, then by extension in the bigger picture of a postseason run. 

I'm here to tell you, that trade isn't out there. Indiana snatched Pascal Siakam, who wouldn't have moved the needle enough anyway. The Knicks got OG Anunoby, who likely would've cost the Warriors Jonathan Kuminga, who has probably cemented his status as too good to trade anyway.

Dejounte Murray? The Warriors can easily get to two trade-eligible draft picks (2026, if they remove 1-4 protection on the 2024 pick they owe Portland, and 2028), and Murray would likely cost both of them if Kuminga is off the table, as he should be. If we're being honest, Kuminga, who is six years younger and making rookie-scale money for at least one more season, is arguably already better than Murray, who is guaranteed north of $100M over the next four years. 

Jerami Grant would be give the Warriors a bigger lift than Murray, but he would likely cost the same two draft picks and/or Kuminga, and he makes more money than Murray on top of it. The Warriors, who are sitting in tax hell with a payroll of nearly $400M including penalties, are not going to pile the $130M that Grant is guaranteed over the next four years onto their books just to maybe scratch their way out of the Play-In Tournament and lose in the first or second round. 

You want to get super crazy and flip Klay Thompson for Zach LaVine? You could do it. The money works straight up. LaVine is a better player than Thompson at this point. He would give the Warriors another big scoring threat. He is also owed $90M over the next two seasons with a $49M player option for 2026-27. 

The Warriors, who have to know deep down that the days of winning championships with the Curry-Klay-Draymond core are almost certainly over, shouldn't be trying to add money. They should be trying to cut it. Over the last seven years, this is an organization that has shelled out damn near $700M in tax money. 

I suppose you can justify that expense if you're winning, or even competing for, championships (easy for me to say when I'm not the one writing the checks). But if you're battling to get into the first round, let alone out of it, for that kind of cash, you're getting robbed. 

Waving the white flag on a season when Curry isn't getting any younger is a tough pill to swallow, but if the Warriors can stomach it, some serious debt relief is right around the corner. Thompson and Chris Paul, who are making a combined $74M this season before tax penalties, both come off the books this summer. 

If the Warriors could remove the nostalgia factor, they should be trying to trade Thompson this minute. It's not an unrealistic idea that a contender would be willing to give up a first-round pick for him. His shooting can still be a weapon in a context that doesn't require more of him than he has left to give. 

Think about Thompson coming off the bench for the Sixers. Or the Timberwolves. Or the Knicks. Both L.A. teams could use him, even as a rental. Trading Thompson would be extremely hard for the Warriors, but so too will the conversation they're going to have to have with him this summer. 

In a vacuum, there's probably not a contract number the Warriors, who have a chance to actually drop below the tax line, or at least the first apron, this summer, should be willing to offer Thompson that he would be willing to accept. 

Assuming Paul is gone, the Warriors will have right about $144M in salary committed for next season. The luxury-tax line is projected at $172M. Add Thompson at even $20M annually, and you're going over the line, and probably past the apron, by the time you fill out the roster. So yes, trading Thompson, or not re-signing him this summer, should be very real possibilities. 

Beyond that, the guy the Warriors should be looking to trade before the Feb. 8 deadline is Andrew Wiggins, who is due $85M over the next three years after this one. If they could attach a future pick, or perhaps Moses Moody, to him and get off his money (without taking any back beyond this season), that would be a win. 

Would Charlotte, as an example, take Wiggins, Moody and Cory Joseph for Gordon Hayward, who is an expiring contract? Would the Nets swap Spencer Dinwiddie, also an expiring contract, for Wiggins if the Warriors added wither their 2026 or 2028 pick? What about the same deal with the Pistons for Alec Burks and Monte Morris, both of whom are expiring?

Wiggins isn't an easy contract to move, but those future picks have a chance to be mighty valuable if the Warriors continue to decline. Which is why the Warriors would also be justified in keeping them -- even if that means keeping Wiggins. 

As long as Curry is around, it's hard to imagine the Warriors totally giving up on a final run at one more title. Maybe Wiggins comes back around next year. Maybe a different trade option comes along that does move their needle enough to justify spending those picks, which are more or less the last piece of future currency they own beyond Kuminga. 

But right now, that trade is not out there. Right now, unless they can get off Wiggins' deal or strike a trade for Thompson that brings back something of value, the move, as boring and frustrating as it sound, is to stand pat. Wait for the summer. When they can reassess with a clear head and a clearer cap sheet.