SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry is far from ready to accept that these Golden State Warriors are done chasing championships together.
Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, too.
Same goes for Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins.
“No matter how different it looks, I think we understand each other, what we all bring to the table and trust that we’re just gonna compete until the wheels fall off,” the 35-year-old Curry said.
The defending champions’ season ended in a 122-101 loss in Game 6 to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday night, the first time this core group of Curry, Green and Thompson have been eliminated before the NBA Finals after 19 straight playoff series wins against Western Conference opponents under coach Steve Kerr. Golden State also failed to to win at least one road game after doing so in an NBA-record 28 consecutive series.
Sure, the Warriors realize all of the outside speculation that the Curry-led dynasty could be done. The franchise captured four titles over eight years, reaching the NBA Finals in five straight seasons from 2015-19.
“It’s probably too raw right now for me to think about,” Kerr said. “The one thing I will say is that Draymond, Klay, Steph, our core guys, they’ve got plenty left. There’s still plenty in the tank there. I thought they all had great seasons. It may not have ended on a high note but all three guys are still high-level players and I still feel like this team has championship potential. We didn’t get there this year but it’s not like this is the end of the road.”
Looney wasn’t quite ready to fully look back at the season to evaluate the highs and lows — or why the Warriors never could consistently find their rhythm on the road. They went 11-30 away from Chase Center on the way to a 44-38 regular-season record.
“Last year after we won, I got a chance to reflect and think about all the great things that we did. But this year, still fresh. Still a sore spot getting put out in the second round,” Looney said Saturday with the Warriors back at Chase Center making offseason preparations and going through exit interviews.
“This group has been through a lot and I feel like we’ve got a lot more to give, and watching Steph, Klay and Draymond, what they did all season, what they did in the playoffs, was spectacular, and it obviously shows that they have a lot left more to give.”
Yet the quest for a repeat title began with Green punching Jordan Poole during training camp, then the Warriors worked through that team crisis only to struggle on the road and miss key players to injury for long stretches. The continuity was rarely there.
“Last year we were a little bit more together,” Wiggins said Saturday, adding, “I feel like the future’s bright for this organization, all the players.”
Looney and Wiggins — Curry, Green and Thompson weren’t among those players to speak at the arena Saturday — were still coming to terms with the disappointing early exit.
Golden State needed Curry’s 50-point masterpiece in Game 7 at Sacramento in the first round to beat the Kings and become the first defending champion to rally from a 2-0 deficit.
Then he and Thompson struggled to knock down the key shots against the Lakers. Golden State’s 365 missed 3-pointers in the first two rounds are the most in NBA history, topping the 2020 Rockets’ 358. And after going a combined 6 for 26 from deep in the deciding Game 6, Curry and Thompson became one of only three pairs to each have missed 10 or more 3s in the same playoff game.
Now, they will part ways and work to regroup again — and see how the roster might change.
“We will all collectively kind of handle those at the right time. I think obviously, start at the top and working down in terms of trying to put together the best team possible next year,” Curry said. “Making sure all the pieces fit and understanding how we can retool to put ourselves in position to be legit championship contender because for us, that’s all we’re worried about.”
Thompson, like the others, will need a little time before moving forward.
“It stings real bad and it’s going to sting all summer,” Thompson said. “First time in a long time that Dray, Steph and I were healthy not making the finals. So it’s rare to be off during this time of year but I can tell you we gave it everything we had.”