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Four Ways the Warriors Can Get Their Groove Back

The champs are a bit of a mess right now. Here are a few friendly suggestions for how Golden State can get back on the title track.

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Draymond Green shouldn’t have called Kevin Durant a bitch multiple times. He probably shouldn’t have brought up Durant’s free agency and said that the Warriors don’t need him. He probably should have just passed Durant the ball. And yet, the Warriors are still title favorites. “We’re still gonna win a bunch of games and win a championship,” Green said Thursday night..

But the Warriors are clearly in a funk right now. They were blown out by 21 in Houston on Thursday. And though Durant and Green seem to be getting along, Durant isn’t exactly laughing it all off. “Don’t ask me about that again,” he shot back to a reporter who inquired about his relationship with Draymond. “We’re banged up physically and banged up spiritually,” head coach Steve Kerr added after the Rockets loss. Everything is fine.

They’ve played only 16 games this season, and won 75 percent of them, but it looks like the Warriors need something to help get them out of this rut. Here are some rational, irrational, and possibly irresponsible ideas to do so.

Let Kevin Durant Be Kevin Durant

Sometimes the best remedy is the simplest one. With Steph Curry out for at least the next four games with a groin injury, the Warriors should continue to feed Durant. He is quietly averaging 27 points, six assists, and seven rebounds, shooting 52.4 percent from the field. Even as ill will threatens to subsume the franchise, he’s led the team in scoring in each of their three games since the fight. His play is not the problem. But he clearly needs some comfort food, and what better way to eat your feelings than by binging on possessions? Durant’s usage rate is over the 30 percent mark (the second-highest on the team behind Curry), and two of his highest-volume shooting games this season have come in the past three games without Curry. Green couldn’t even complain; it’s not like his 6.9 points a game this season are helping much on that end of the floor.

Wait for Steph to Return

It’s easy to quantify Curry’s value to the Warriors in numbers—3s, assists, pace, wins. But the joy he spreads around the court with his shimmies and carefree style may be even more important. Just look what happened when he wasn’t with the team in Los Angeles on Monday. The results may be ugly until Curry is back on the court, but maybe the best plan is to ride out the next few games, take the Ls, and hope that Steph can provide some much-needed synergy upon his return. In the meantime, he’ll try to do what he can by traveling with the team during its three-game road swing through Texas. Just look at the positive effect he’s already having from the bench:

It’s safe to say that Curry might be a better peacemaker than Boogie.

Trade Draymond Green

At face value, this is preposterous, irresponsible, desperate above all else. Things aren’t this bad (yet). But there does seem to be universal agreement that this incident is still hanging over everyone’s heads. And while initial reporting suggested that a few Warriors players were just as miffed about the way KD has handled the lead-up to his decision next summer, The Athletic’s Sam Amick suggested that this may just be a Draymond problem. ““No one cares except for Draymond,” a source told Amick.

There’s also the future to think about. The Warriors’ salary-cap sheet will be jammed up for the foreseeable future even if Durant walks in free agency. Curry is on a supermax through 2021-22. Klay Thompson will likely earn a full max next summer. Green would also like a new max in 2020. The problem is his offensive play is already in sharp decline; though he’s still one of the best passing big men in the game, he’s shooting a putrid 22.2 percent from 3. Given his age (28) and body type, he’s not going to get much better on that end. If the Warriors are indeed light-years ahead, they may want to consider moving Green now, while he’s still valuable enough to return the type of assets that can help them make a seamless transition into the future.

Go Get Melo (or Someone Else)

Buried beneath all of the drama of this past week is the same problem the Warriors have had for some time: They lack depth at the wing. Jonas Jerebko has been a fine offseason addition, and Alfonzo McKinnie has been a revelation. But struggling rookie Jacob Evans showing up on the court Thursday night for 11 minutes is a clear sign that the Warriors don’t have many options to turn to when Curry sits. Quinn Cook will not save them. But what about Carmelo Anthony?

OK, here me out. Yes, Melo has failed now failed in both attempts to adapt to a lesser role. But if there’s any part of the former scoring champ still left in there underneath all of his jab steps, don’t you think a team that once made Nick Young an important contributor would be the one to bring it out of him? Anthony’s ball-stopping ways seem like the exact opposite of what the Warriors need right now, but they need something to jolt them back to life. As they wait for the DeMarcus Cousins revival tour, why not try the same approach with Melo? Maybe the best way to move on is to double- or even triple-down on the drama. Most of the time, the Warriors seem to thrive on that, anyway.