The Golden State Warriors improved to 19-0 Monday night in a narrow win over the Utah Jazz.
The Warriors are already off to the hottest start in NBA history, and they’re the undisputed best team in basketball.
In what’s been a surprisingly lopsided start to the NBA season, it’s fair to wonder who can actually challenge the Warriors.
Golden State will lose at some point, but there’s a select few teams that seem capable of beating them four times in seven games. With a young, improving roster locked in for several years, it doesn’t look like the Warriors are going anywhere.
This has some teams considering a ridiculous route to avoid them. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe sneaks into his Tuesday column, some fringe teams might just try to wait out the Warriors’ run. Lowe writes about young, building teams, saying (emphasis added):
“Everyone needs to wait out the Warriors, anyway. (Seriously: waiting out Golden State’s run of dominance is already a topic of conversation among team executives).”
Lowe never elaborates on the details of what “waiting out” entails, but the basic idea is the same: teams don’t think they can beat Golden State right now, so they might as well slow their growth until the Warriors weaken.
For some teams, that could mean tanking in hopes of getting more draft picks and young players; for playoff contenders, it may mean avoiding big trades or signings, staying put, and waiting for a better shot to make a move for the top.
Unfortunately, for those teams, if this truly is a strategy, the Warriors’ dominance is going to last a long time. The Stephen Curry-Klay Thompson-Draymond Green triumvirate is locked in until 2017, when Curry becomes a free agent. Curry’s current $11 million salary is a bargain, but come 2017, he’s going to get his deserved pay raise. The Warriors still have Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston locked into deals until 2017, as well, so at a minimum, the Warriors have two more years (including this current season) with this core.
When 2017 hits, despite the giant salary cap inflation, the Warriors will have to make some choices. Curry, Thompson, and Green will almost surely stay together, but unless Curry or any other free agent signings are willing to take a discount, the Warriors will have to sacrifice some of that depth to have three All-Star players on the same roster.
It’s not impossible, however. The San Antonio Spurs have generated a prolonged championship run by convincing players to take discounts across the board. The Warriors could possibly do the same thing, particularly if they continue to dominate at their current rate.
So, if other NBA teams are truly willing to wait for the Warriors’ run to be over, they may be waiting a while.
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