Why the Warriors need to consider the unthinkable: trading Steph Curry

Steph Curry

Is there life after Stephen Curry?

We’re all going to find out sooner or later. Maybe we can delay that sad day for a few seasons, but Father Time is undefeated.

So let’s sit down here and have that unpleasant but necessary discussion. Maybe it’s time for Curry to (gulp) leave.

The Golden State Warriors are at a crisis point. If you watched the beginning of the playoffs over the weekend, you surely noticed that the league’s top teams are getting younger, quicker, more springy.

In that landscape, the Warriors’ core three — Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — might hold steady for another season or so, but holding steady is like treading water in the Olympics’ 400-meter freestyle relay.

The Warriors say they will consider all options, except, of course, trading Curry. Why would you consider trading one of the great athletes and people in the history of the world?

Well, there would be two reasons to consider that nuclear option:

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— If team owner Joe Lacob and his front-office thinkers see trading Curry as the best option for avoiding a bleak and embarrassing future for the Warriors.

— If Curry embraces and endorses the idea, for the good of the Warriors and for himself.

If another team will offer the Warriors a bounty of draft picks and prospects in exchange for Curry, thus jump-starting a necessary team overhaul, the Warriors should at least consider the offer, and present it to Curry.

Every move the Warriors made or considered over the past few seasons, every roster and playing-time decision, has been made with the intention of maximizing the Curry Window.

It’s at least possible, though, that the only realistic championship window for Curry is with another team.

Please understand, if Curry tells the Warriors he wants to play out his career here, end of story.

No way he would be subjected to the treatment given Joe Montana and Willie Mays, traded near the end of their careers. I’m convinced that if Curry wants to retire with the Warriors, Lacob will make that happen.

And if Curry wants to play here until he’s 50, wheeling onto the court in a walker, sign me up. Steph Curry is the reason I do this job.

But if Curry is willing to let the Warriors explore all options, it’s unfair to him if they don’t.

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Curry’s not going to tell us. He’s not likely to make some grand pronouncement about wanting to play here until the end. So all we can do is speculate.

His frustration was evident this past season, notable because Curry has been the ultimate sunshine guy, even in hard times. There were the tears of frustration and the courtside chair kick the night Green got thrown out of a big game. There have been moments of despair on the sideline. These infrequent incidents don’t mean that Curry has given up, but they could indicate that he is acutely aware of the ticking clock.

The breakup of the big three, whenever and however that happens, will be emotionally wrenching for Curry. But it’s going to happen, and it might be less painful — and more dignified — if it happens via intelligent design, rather than by driving along until the wheels fall off.

We shouldn’t be selfish here. If these are the two most logical options, would you rather see Curry slog through a potentially ugly rebuilding project with the Warriors, or go somewhere else and contend for a championship?

Head coach Steve Kerr, in his postseason media session, made a plea to keep the core three together, at least going into next season.

“I do think there’s a tremendous value in the three of them being Warriors for life,” Kerr said. “It matters to our fans, it matters to our franchise. So I hope it happens. Fortunately, right now, they’re all still good.”

They weren’t good enough to push the Warriors into the playoffs, in a league in which more than half the teams make the playoffs.

Kerr also said, “It matters that Kobe (Bryant) was a Laker for life. That’s meaningful to the Laker franchise.”

Worth noting: In Bryant’s final three seasons, at ages 35, 36 and 37, the Lakers missed the playoffs, and most of the fun was drained from the glorious Kobe spectacle. Granted, he was dogged by injuries, so being traded and leading another team to a title was not a viable option.

If Curry stays healthy, though, it would be cool to see his last seasons played out in glory, his talents and gifts employed in hot pursuit of titles. Here, or elsewhere.

“It’s impossible for this stuff to end perfectly,” Kerr said. He was referring to the breakup or fadeout of dynasties, but the same applies to the careers of great players.

If Curry ever leaves, let’s hope they televise his new team’s workouts and warm-ups, because I’d rather watch him in practice, shooting 3s and kicking the ball into the basket, than watch most NBA games. Blessing his departure, if it ever comes to that, would be small payback for all the thrills.

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