For years, the Golden State Warriors felt inevitable. Their Hall of Fame trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green all but guaranteed elite 3-point shooting on offense and a tenacious versatile defense. Since Green’s rookie season in 2012-13, the Warriors have won at least 44 games every season all three were available, and they rode that core to four championships and six Finals appearances. However, as time has eroded their skills and the roster, their streak of .500 or better seasons is in danger of ending.
These Warriors are different
The Warriors are 22-25 with a plus-0.3 net rating and are 12th in the Western Conference. Just to make the Play-In Tournament, they’ll have to leapfrog two teams, making their playoff odds that much longer. While there is enough season left for the Warriors to make a run up the standings, they’re running out of time and need to dramatically improve their play.
The three issues plaguing the Warriors this season are their lack of another shot creator outside of Stephen Curry, their lack of 3-point shooting talent, and a decline in perimeter defense. The Warriors’ reliance on Curry to generate offense has worn the 35-year-old down over the season and has seen his defense sink tremendously. With Curry on the bench, the Warriors see an 8.2-point improvement per 100 possessions to their defense. While addressing all three issues will be difficult, plugging one hole will help them attend to the others.
If the Warriors want to save their season and make another run with their Hall of Fame core, they need to take a swing. This roster isn’t good enough, and continuity is only valuable if you’re continuing something worth continuing. These are three last-chance trade ideas to save the Warriors.
Last-chance Warriors trade idea No. 3: Dejounte Murray
The best shot creator on the market is Dejounte Murray. Playing next to Trae Young in Atlanta, he hasn’t had the opportunity to fully showcase his abilities, but the Warriors offer a unique situation. Curry, unlike Young, relishes the chance to play off the ball, and his perpetual motion warps and bends defenses to the point of breaking.
Murray’s threat as a lead ball handler would give the Warriors another dynamic, and allow Curry to more consistently weaponize his off-ball abilities. The combination would lead to easier shots for the two of them and better looks for the rest of the team. As a bonus, Murray has been an excellent defender in the past and is an upgrade defensively over the Warriors' current backcourt options.
Trading for Murray is as much about adding talent as it is about easing Curry’s offensive load. With fewer high-energy on-ball possessions, Curry will have more energy to defend and run the show in crunch time. The best players can turn tough possessions into buckets, but that’s no way to maximize your offensive output. Murray helps the Warriors now and is locked up on a reasonable deal long-term.
There are multiple ways the Warriors could acquire Murray, but sending the Hawks Chris Paul and two first-round picks is probably the easiest. Paul is owed $30.8 million this season but has a non-guaranteed salary for next season. Swapping Murray for Paul gives the Hawks the option to save significant money going forward, or they can keep Paul’s contract and use the final year of his deal as a massive expiring contract in a trade.
The Warriors could also flip Andrew Wiggins for Murray, but it’s unlikely the Hawks value him enough to ask for his inclusion. There’s also the issue that the Hawks would want additional draft compensation to take on his contract, and the Warriors would have almost $100 million tied up in point guards.