OAKLAND (CBS SF) – While the Cleveland Cavaliers were stopping in Las Vegas to celebrate their NBA championship early Monday on their flight back home, the off-season had begun for the dethroned Golden State Warriors.
To help ease the pain of Sunday’s Game 7 loss, the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants fired off a tweet to the Golden State franchise that ended with –
“We would also like to remind you that (winning a championship) every other year ain’t so bad.”
The Giants have won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and currently are one of the best teams in the National League in 2016.
Even with Las Vegas oddsmakers already making the Warriors the favorites to return the NBA Finals next year, the club has to address five key areas before they can think about the 2017 Finals.
Here in no particular order are those five:
- 1. Address the center position.
While Golden State can field one of the most potent offensive lineups in the NBA by going small with Draymond Green at center, the NBA Finals expose how vulnerable they can be when they do play with a center.
At 31, starting center Andrew Bogut is aging and oft-injured. His backup – Festus Ezeli – hasn’t developed as the team had hoped and is an unrestricted free agent and looking for a big contract. Mid-season pickup Anderson Varejo is also an unrestricted free agent and likely will not return.
Among the other unrestricted free agents available are veteran Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard and Timofrey Mozgov.
- 2. Harrison Barnes
Barnes turned down a four-year, $64 million contract offer from the Warriors in September and is an unrestricted free agent. The veteran disappeared in the last three games of the NBA Finals, hitting on just 5 of his 32 shot attempts over the span of those games. His play has been marked by inconsistency throughout his career — you never know what you are going to get out of Barnes from night to night. It may be time for the Warriors to cut Barnes loose.
- 3. Find a replacement for assistant coach Luke Walton.
Walton’s impact on the Warriors was enormous and key to the club rolling to a record regular season 73-9 mark. With head coach Steve Kerr sidelined with a bad back, Walton took over and guided Golden State to the best start in NBA history with a 39-4 mark. Walton now moves on to be the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and it marks the second straight year Kerr has lost a key assistant to a head coaching position. Walton had replaced Alvin Gentry, who moved on to lead the New Orleans Pelicans.
- 4. Create offensive plays for Draymond Green
By his own admittance, Kerr does not design plays for Green to score on. It might be time to add a few plays in the playbook, particularly after Green scored 32 points, pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and had nine assists in the Game 7 loss. Green says he will learn from the Finals loss and better control his emotions on the court. The Warriors lost momentum in the Finals when leading while leading 3 games to 1, Green was suspended for Game 5 after picking up a flagrant foul in Game 4.
- 5. Cut down on the careless turnovers.
All season long, the Warriors – particularly two-time league MVP Steph Curry – were plagued with careless turnovers. In Game 7, Curry had four turnovers including a momentum changing miscue in the fourth quarter. He averaged 4.2 turnovers and 5.2 assists a game during the 2016 playoffs. That’s not a winning ratio.