At a league-worst 15-50, the Golden State Warriors were the lone NBA team mathematically eliminated from playoff contention when the season was halted last month because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. So Coach Steve Kerr already was thinking about next season even before everything was paused.
“It feels like the offseason,” Kerr said during a video conference call, per ESPN. “And, in fact, we had a Zoom call, [President of Basketball Operations] Bob Myers and I got on a Zoom with our players, our whole roster last week. And it was just a chance to check in, but it was also a chance for Bob to update the players on his contact with the league and the latest news, but it also kind of felt like our annual team exit meeting. Our coaching staff and I have been undergoing staff evaluations, offseason plans, so we are absolutely in offseason mode right now.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has yet to announce whether the league will resume play, and he has not set a cutoff date for determining whether the rest of the season will be played. Under league guidelines released Saturday and updated Monday, teams will be allowed to reopen their practice facilities to players if their local governments have loosened stay-at-home orders, and players will be allowed to conduct individual workouts at those facilities beginning May 8.
NBA teams had between 15 and 19 regular season games remaining when play stopped after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus March 11. All of them except the Warriors still harbored at least faint playoff hopes.
“It’s different for us because we were down to 17 games, but we were out of the playoffs. It feels like the end of the season for our team. It just does,” Kerr said. “We don’t know anything officially. There’s still a chance the league could ask us to come back and play some games, but given what we went through this season, with all the injuries and the tough record, it’s been more of the case of we’re staying in touch with guys, but everybody is just sort of assuming that this is kind of it. We’re not going to be involved much anymore.”
After making five straight trips to the NBA Finals and winning three championships, the Warriors’ core was decimated by departures and injuries this season. Kevin Durant left via free agency, two-time league MVP Stephen Curry played in only five games because of a broken finger suffered in late October, and five-time all-star Klay Thompson didn’t play at all because of a torn ACL suffered in last season’s Finals. With Draymond Green (who also battled injuries) left to carry the veteran load, the Warriors suffered a jarring downturn and are destined for their first lottery pick since 2012.
“I think what we’ve tried to do as a staff is take more time than we’ve ever had before to really self-reflect, to really examine what we’ve done, what we’d like to do going forward,” Kerr said. “And we’re in a pretty unique position because we’ve come off an incredible five-year run and then this season where we had the worst record in the NBA and we went through all kinds of injuries and everything else. And so this whole experience, this last six years for us, as a coaching staff, as an organization, we’ve pretty much seen everything, and yet what I realize now is very rarely have we had the chance to actually sit down and examine everything.”