GM Mike Dunleavy, Warriors look to regroup after missing the playoffs with Curry, Green, Thompson

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SAN FRANCISCO — General manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the rest of Golden State’s front office staff had a feeling this season would wind up short of the ultimate goal for a franchise that has won four NBA championships over the past decade.

That’s the way the season went for Stephen Curry and Co. — losing big leads, making costly mistakes, repeatedly unable to deliver the big defensive stop when it mattered most.

Coach Steve Kerr had hoped the 10th-seeded Warriors could somehow fight through the NBA’s play-in tournament and into a playoff series. Instead, they lost 118-94 at Sacramento on Tuesday night and were eliminated.

“I think the overarching emotion right now is disappointment. We’re still sort of settling in on what happened,” Dunleavy said Thursday. “But on the whole, we knew this season no matter how long it went along, was going to end at some point probably disappointing us and so not a shocking surprise. But I think as far as what we need to do, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s to get better. I think that presents a really good challenge for everybody.”

Being run off the court by the Kings especially stung, given how closely the teams played this season but also the because the Warriors had thrilling seven-game victory against their Northern California neighbors in the first round of last year’s Western Conference playoffs.

“That was the worst game we played all year,” Dunleavy said.

Now, they regroup and evaluate how much of the roster to keep intact.

Working to bring back Klay Thompson — at the right price — will be a priority going into the summer.

The 34-year-old Thompson missed all 10 shots in the loss to the Kings and becomes a free agent in July when his five-year contract worth nearly $190 million expires. He missed more than 2 1/2 years recovering from surgeries on his left knee and right Achilles tendon before returning in January 2022 and helping the Warriors to their most recent title that spring.

“Certainly we want Klay back first and foremost. I expressed that to him yesterday,” Dunleavy said. “I think our players have expressed that, our coach, front office, ownership, look, everybody wants Klay back. He’s still a really good player and I think we have enough good players in our system, we have enough assets to acquire good players and we have the ability to keep getting better.”

The question for Dunleavy is whether the Warriors can make another title run while led by the core trio of Thompson, the 36-year-old Curry and Draymond Green, who is 34.

“There’s a lot of value in our three guys being Warriors for life,” Kerr said Thursday. “There’s a lot of value in ending with dignity.”

Thompson has repeatedly said he would “love to be a Warrior for life,” even if it was too soon Wednesday to address his future as he said he needed to decompress from the early finish.

Dunleavy said he is “hopeful, optimistic” about the sides getting something done.

“I think it’s a mutual feeling. I mean, the guy’s been here a long time. He means so much to the organization,” Dunleavy said. “We really, really value him. So there’s nothing that would make me think that he want to go somewhere else or we don’t want him back. And for that reason I’m hopeful we can make it happen, but, you know, it’s a deal both sides got to be good with it and we’ll work through that.”

Dunleavy also said of Green, “fully expect him to be back,” following a season in which the fiery forward served two suspensions.

The 2022 NBA champions must get better defensively, Dunleavy said, having missed the playoffs following last season’s elimination by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.

Losing games earlier in the season hurt late, according to Kerr.

“We put ourselves in a position to lose in an elimination game and we lost,” said Kerr, who will shift gears to coaching first-time Olympian Curry and the U.S. team at the Paris Games. “We won 46 games in a loaded conference. It’s usually enough. It’s not enough. … It’s way harder now than it was nine years ago to succeed in this conference. This summer will be a lot of self-reflection.”

This marked a tough finish to Dunleavy’s first season since taking over for Bob Myers, but it was also a year that saw rookies Trayce Jackson-Davis and Brandin Podziemski make sizeable contributions and Jonathan Kuminga emerge as a reliable rising star.

“We know clearly what this team was. It wasn’t good enough,” Dunleavy said. “There’s no doubt about that, there’s no what-ifs.”

When Dunleavy and Curry spoke Wednesday, the GM expressed his disappointment that the veterans — and the young players — aren’t playing deep into the postseason.

“That’s what everybody wants to see not only here in the Bay Area but frankly around the world, to see those compete at the highest level, so for them not to be able to do that is really disappointing,” Dunleavy said. “I feel for them. But it is what it is, it’s our own undoing. We’ve got to live with it.”



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