Title hunt leads to strange bedfellows. Steph Curry was now tasked with doing what Kevin Durant failed to do – Chris Paul’s drag withering body to an NBA title. He’s no longer an all-star player, but there is still something left. Now the future Hall of Famer is imported into a system unlike anything he’s ever played in before. Just hours before the 2023 draft began, the Warriors executed a red-hot trade that sent Jordan Poole, a protected 2030 first-round pick and a 2027 second-round pick, to Washington for Paul. Poole’s sacking from Golden State is a waiver of the $128 million four-year extension that was set to begin next season.
Can Paul Golden State help?
Paul has been a successful, high-demand pick and roll retailer for nearly two decades. In the Golden State, he will take a backseat to established veterans and like-minded individuals. More importantly, Paul will adjust to a decentralized offense that emphasizes ball movement rather than the ball-dominated, methodical approach he has favored. The Warriors need no help in a starting five that had the NBA’s best net rating this season. As I wrote two weeks ago, Paul is no longer capable of directing a rival team’s starting offense, but he can revive a Golden State second unit that has been abysmal this season. There will be nights when Paul springs into action and fails at an unsuspecting backup guard, and others when he looks even more raspy than usual. Kerr’s job will be to keep him safe until the playoffs.
Poole averaged the highest points of his career this season, but his shot selection caused his efficiency to drop and occasionally a few moments of Poole’s frustration crept through the Warriors monastery. A visibly angry Curry in the closing seconds of a recent January match against the Memphis Grizzlies started his mouthpiece after Poole blocked an ill-considered deep-three pitcher just seconds after a shot clock reset.
InPaul, Steve Kerr knows what he will doT. A high IQ, stubborn ball handler who can pick and roll with the best. This is also Paul’s last chance at a ring. Relying on a point guard Paul’s age is a risky proposition. Injuries are more common. Ligaments lose their elasticity and the first steps become slower. But in a few minutes, Paul’s spatial computational brain will hold the key to unlocking Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and Gary Payton Jr. in minutes when the death lineup is dormant.
In a significantly reduced role, however, Kerr can potentially make the most of what Paul has left and avoid the mistakes teams have made in the past with aging greats like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. During their respective seasons at the age of 38, Nash’s physical condition deteriorated rapidly and Kidd’s performance rendered him virtually unplayable.
For a decade, the Warriors were Paul’s hurdle to overcome. In the first round of the 2014 Paul’s Clippers postseason were the last team in the Western Conference to beat Golden State until the Lakers shocked them in six games last month. Months later, Joe Lacob hired Steve Kerr and the Warriors dynasty began to conquer the West. In 2018, Paul’s hamstring injury sparked Golden State’s comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals. Next year, Curry’s transcendent second half sent the Rockets home licking their wounds and ended Paul’s tour of Houston.
Within a week, Paul was shuffled off to Washington by the Phoenix riches and then rescued by Golden State. Assuming the Warriors re-sign Draymond Green, the Warriors are poised to snag another title after being ruled dead by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. This time, the Warriors will speak with Paul at their side. In staggered formations, Paul could be offered the opportunity to control the offensive alone.
During his two years at Houston, Paul thrived off the ball while Harden sat. He needs to feel the momentum within the Warriors offense. Unlike previous stints in Houston and LA, the Warriors are a cohesive group of veterans. A reunion of the Clippers would have seen him join a fragmented dressing room. Giving him difficult minutes with the Lakers would risk a repeat of the disastrous Nash experiment a decade ago. Situationally, things couldn’t be much better for CP3.
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