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Golden State Warriors

Offseason Grades: How did the Golden State Warriors bounce back from losing Kevin Durant in free agency?

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Golden State Warriors (NBA Canada Illustrations)

The Golden State Warriors had a lot on their plate this offseason. At the top of the list? Re-signing Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

The Warriors ticked one of those boxes by re-signing Thompson on a max contract. Durant, however, chose to sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, leaving Golden State following three years with the team, in which he won two titles and two Finals MVPs.

Even though it cost them a future first-round pick, the Warriors were at least able to get something in return for Durant by signing-and-trading him to the Nets for a package built around D'Angelo Russell. It's not the cleanest of fits, but Russell can give the Warriors the scoring punch they desperately need while Thompson continues to recover from a torn ACL. They'll then have the option of trading him when Thompson returns, either ahead of next season's trade deadline or at some point over the next four years.

A one-time All-Star who is only 23-years-old, the Warriors should be able to flip Russell for something positive if they do decide to trade him. If not for another All-Star, possibly multiple role players who can add to the team's depth and better complement Thompson and Stephen Curry.

OFFSEASON GRADES: Clippers | Lakers | Raptors

Durant wasn't the only player who left the Warriors this season, though. Andre Iguodala was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies - along with another future first-round pick - to create room for Russell. The Warriors then saw DeMarcus Cousins and Quinn Cook join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, while Jordan Bell signed an offer sheet with the Minnesota Timberwolves as a restricted free agent that Golden State chose not to match.

The Warriors also waived Shaun Livingston to cut costs.

Other than Thompson, the only free agent the Warriors retained this offseason was Kevon Looney. According to FiveThirtyEight, they signed him to the second-best bargain deal in free agency ($15 million over three years) based on their CARMELO player projections. Looney's return seemed unlikely when the Warriors added Russell because it hard-capped them for the 2019-20 season, so signing him to the contract they did was a huge win.

The other moves the Warriors made this offseason weren't particularly splashy, offering "prove it" deals to Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III and Willie Cauley-Stein in free agency.

Whereas Burks and Robinson will provide shooting and some playmaking in the backcourt, Cauley-Stein brings upside at a position of need. He hasn't lived up to the hype of being the No. 6 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but Cauley-Stein has the potential to thrive in Steve Kerr's system as a rim-runner and multi-positional defender, similar to how JaVale McGee did during his time with the franchise.

As for the draft, the Warriors acquired three players in Jordan Poole (No. 28), Alen Smailagic (No. 39) and Eric Paschall (No. 41). Those selections earned them mixed reviews, the biggest criticism being they reached for Poole, who wasn't projected to be a first-round pick.

So where does all of this leave the Warriors entering next season? Somewhere in the middle of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. The likes of FanDuel and DraftKings currently project them to win just under 50 games, putting them behind the LA Clippers, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. FiveThirtyEight projects them to finish slightly higher, at No. 4 in the conference behind the Rockets, Denver Nuggets and Lakers.

Even so, the Warriors are no longer the overwhelming favourite to win the title. They might not have been even had they re-signed both Thompson and Durant because of the injuries they suffered in the Finals - Thompson is expected to miss most of next season while Durant is expected to miss all of it - but losing arguably the best player in the NBA as well as two first-round picks in deals that didn't help them improve and hurts their grade.

Grade: C+

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