As many in the NBA world try to regain balance in the wake of an earth-shattering trade on this wacky Wednesday, the folks at Chase Center are yawning and stretching.
After all, the Warriors were rarely hurt by the spectacular three-way trade that sent Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers to the Bucks, Jusuf Holliday from Milwaukee to Portland, and Jusuf Nurkic and two rotation players from the Blazers to the Suns.
The Warriors are right where they were before the NBA went nuclear on Wednesday. Not only do they see the Denver Nuggets, the defending champions and favorites to win the Western Conference, but also the Suns, widely considered the second most dangerous team in the conference.
The Golden State was already there, and is still light years ahead of Portland, where those in management are committed to a youth movement they hope will mature before 2030.
Golden State’s fever dream of one day landing Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo — always a figment of creative imaginations — has died a second death.
As for Phoenix, the Warriors already considered it an imposing obstacle, and that’s as true this week as it was last week.
Surya has made some progress. They sacrificed a bit of defense from a roster that lacked much but gained much-needed depth. In swapping double-double center Deandre Ayton for the weaker blue-collar beast Nurkic, Phoenix still offers a roster that screams a one-way message to opponents:
“We know we’re not going to lock you down, but you know we can outplay you because we have Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal.”
As the night begins at Chase Center, the Warriors play host to the Suns, and the “Circle the Date” event from the start is no more — or less — impressive than it used to be.
Golden State was less stunned than most observers. The entire Solar System knew that Lillard would be sent away from Portland as requested, and most made the safe assumption that he was Eastern Conference bound. It’s over. The Warriors won’t shed a tear knowing they won’t face Dam more than twice in the regular season.
The trade news certainly raised eyebrows throughout New England as the Celtics look to win the East. With a two-man matchup between Lillard and Antetokounmpo projected to create nightmares, the Bucks have gone from co-favorites in the East to favorites to win the NBA Finals.
Warriors can see from afar. They were sixth on Tuesday and they remain in that position on Wednesday.
“Our players have been in the gym all summer,” general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. told reporters Monday. “Good, young growth plan we have going. Our players now begin to trickle again. I think we’re going into camp mentally, physically, and healthy and looking forward to a great season.
There is joy in Milwaukee. Tragedy in Portland. Relief in Phoenix. Those in the Golden State paused for a moment and resumed their discussion of details that directly affected them.