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The Warriors’ Future Will Not Arrive Painlessly

DENVER, CO - APRIL 24: Draymond Green #23 and Jordan Poole #3 of the Golden State Warriors talk during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2022 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors have always made the extra effort to tout their zen-soaked culture and the array of rings that validate it. Steve Kerr is the duvet that covers the occasionally rumpled bed, and Stephen Curry the pillows that stay eternally fluffed and cloudlike.

But generational politics come to us all eventually, and the Draymond Green/Jordan Poole set-to (and it’s hard to know exactly how to describe it without seeing it in rancid detail) is the thing that redefines what they are going forward. It is not just Green’s legendary act-first-think-as-you’re-being-pulled-away impulse-control issues, but it is also Poole wanting the transition to the Warriors’ next generation to happen now, while the generation who did the heavy lifting is still on the job site. 

Green and Poole both did their two years’ time as understudies, Green to David Lee and Poole to Klay Thompson, at least once Thompson healed from his cavalcade of injuries. The difference is that while the Warriors moved off Lee to Green with relatively ease and massive benefit, they are still very emotionally attached to Thompson and will have to find Poole 30-some-odd minutes in more creative ways. Poole had a breakout regular season that stalled a bit in the playoffs but is on the verge of his first fat money deal that this year’s performance will largely define. Poole and Green are thus on a contractual collision course in which the Warriors need to make a decision on one or the other to avoid the unpleasantness of a luxury tax bill that would crush the Saudi royal family. One trough of cash and two sets of hands.

But it’s also more than that. The Warriors also have James Wiseman, himself a third-year, and the expectations ought to be intertwining with the skill for him. There is Jonathan Kuminga, the captivatingly raw second-year who was underused because he was either insufficiently diligent if you believe Stephen A. Smith’s sources or profoundly engaged if you believe Kerr’s rebuttal, and Moses Moody, who showed flashes but mostly learned how to travel the sclerotic Highway 17 route from San Francisco to Santa Cruz.

In short, general manager Bob Myers has fleshed out the two-track plan of going from greatness to more greatness, but Poole and Green have just walked him into the teeth of the plan’s major problem: The young don’t like waiting, and the aging don’t like leaving. Add Green’s place as the team’s barometer and Poole’s desire to make his own reputational elbow room, then throw in the money, and we have what will almost surely be an ongoing threat to the team’s happy home. Green does not seem the shrinking type even when whatever punishment due is meted out, and Poole seems capable of considerable attitudinal behavior in response. Consider this an ongoing story no matter what Kerr or Myers or even Curry may tell you.