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What’s next for Warriors after quiet trade deadline? How Golden State can improve, plus potential buyout candidates

There was plenty of smoke surrounding the Warriors before Thursday’s trade deadline. None of the trade rumors ended up materializing, though.

Aside from trading deep reserve Cory Joseph to the Pacers, receiving a 2024 second-round pick and lowering their luxury tax bill by a few million, the team watched the day’s action from the sidelines. 

Why did Golden State sit the deadline out and what does it mean for its future? Here are some answers for Warriors fans. 

MORE: The biggest winners and losers from the trade deadline

Why didn’t the Warriors make a trade at the deadline?

The Warriors did look at opportunities to upgrade their team. They inquired about Kelly Olynyk, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, and talked to the Bulls about Alex Caruso.

Olynyk was eventually moved to the Raptors and that Caruso deal fell through when the Warriors refused to include Jonathan Kuminga, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

General manager Mike Dunleavy told reporters later in the day that the team viewed Kuminga as virtually untouchable, and rightly so. He has been the second-best player for the team over the past month. 

MORE: Jonathan Kuminga’s breakout since Steve Kerr meeting has changed Warriors plans

The Warriors also looked at shopping Andrew Wiggins throughout the week, per The Athletic’s Sam Amick. But no deals made sense for them. 

Wiggins has started to play a little better as of late (though it would have been hard to get worse). And the team has looked much better since Draymond Green’s return to the lineup. They’ve won five of their last six, with their only loss coming on the road, in the second night of a back-to-back, in overtime against the Hawks. 

At the end of the day, the Warriors believed that they had a better chance of winning this season with their current core rather than by making a trade and sacrificing some of their younger players who have been terrific this year. 

How do the Warriors get better? 

The Warriors do still have some hope of making some noise. They’re better than their 24-25 record might suggest. 

The defensive problems that plagued the team during Green’s suspension have largely vanished. They were ranked No. 29 in the league while he served out his suspension. Since he’s come back, they’ve been top five in that department. 

Curry is still by far the best player on the team. He can still reach a superstar level, as he showed in hitting 11 3-pointers in a win against the Pacers on Thursday. But Green is the communicator that makes all of the other pieces work.

For example, the minutes with Kuminga and Wiggins on the floor together were a complete tire fire without Green. Kuminga and Wiggins simply don’t have the high feel to work well. Add Draymond to the mix, and that three-man unit has been the driving force behind their improved play. The Warriors have outscored teams by 25.6 points per 100 possessions with that trio. 

Chris Paul’s return from injury will also help. He’s missed over a month with a hand injury but should be back soon. He was a stabilizing force for the team off the bench and the least mistake-prone player on the roster. 

The big question mark behind all of this is Klay Thompson, who has recently gotten benched to close out games. The Warriors need him to get back to his level of two years ago if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs. 

MORE: Patrick Beverley breaks news of his own trade to Bucks ahead of NBA insiders

Buyout options for Warriors

There are some very interesting names in the buyout market, led by Spencer Dinwiddie and potentially Kyle Lowry.

The problem for the Warriors is that they can’t sign anyone who was making more than the mid-level exception because they’re over the second apron. That takes them out of the running for the above two names, along with anyone else who was making over $12.2 million before getting bought out. 

That still leaves some targets that the team could acquire. Otto Porter Jr. was a pivotal member of their last championship run. He was traded as salary filler to the Jazz and could be bought out. He’s had issues with his health, but he’s already shown that he fits into the team’s system. 

There are some other shooters that could help, too. Danilo Gallinari has already been bought out. Seth Curry, traded to the Hornets, could be bought out. 

Thaddeus Young, dealt as salary filler to the Nets, has already gotten waived. The high-feel passer and defender would be a perfect fit in Golden State’s offense. Robin Lopez could add some badly needed size and rebounding. 

None of these players are game-changers, and the Warriors have gotten some surprisingly good play from the end of their bench already, but they could serve as insurance against injury or work their way into spot minutes in the right matchups. 

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