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DIMES: The real reason there will never be another Warriors

DIMES: The real reason there will never be another Warriors

Warriors beat writer Danny Emerman shares his thoughts on the NBA offseason and beyond.

Steve Ballmer passed Bill Gates in net worth for the first time in the Microsoft CEO’s life last week, becoming the sixth-richest person in the world.

At the same time, he was so scared of the second apron that he let Paul George walk for nothing in return.

Weeks after winning the title, the Celtics — one of the premier sporting brands in the world — announced that principal owner Wyc Grousbeck is selling his majority stake in the franchise. Not coincidentally, Boston is beelining for a half-a-billion-dollar roster between payroll and luxury tax in a couple years.

We’re entering the hard-cap era. The punitive restrictions of going into the second apron in particular are making even the richest owners, and even the most successful teams, run for the hills.

The new collective bargaining agreement rules have unintended consequences. When it comes to NFL-style parity, be careful what you wish for. Fans love greatness. They don’t love having to be amateur accountants to understand what their favorite teams can or can’t do to improve their rosters. The hard-cap (and that’s what it is) will depress players’ earnings.

The new CBA means teams — even those that build through the draft — won’t be able to retain their best players. They’ll be able to pay Steph Curry, and they’ll be able to pay Steph Curry and Draymond Green. But they won’t be able to pay Steph Curry, Draymond Green, AND Klay Thompson — at least not for very long.

Curry, Thompson and Green played 11 years together. Their greatness forged from years of familiarity and championship mettle. They grew together, became champions together and lifted a franchise on their shoulders.

They just might be the last of a dying breed.

Warriors’ offseason grade: incomplete

In their transactions to start the summer, the Warriors made their priorities known.

They needed more 3-point shooting, better point-of-attack defense, and more wing size. The only players who can check all those boxes are the best in the league. So the Warriors went out and got it in the composite, with De’Anthony Melton, Buddy Hield and Kyle Anderson.

Each player has question marks, but that’s how free agency works. If each plays to their potential, the Warriors will be improved.

But it’s also clear that Golden State doesn’t want to be done. You don’t say you want to give Moses Moody more minutes and then bury him again on the depth chart unless there are more moves to come.

Moody’s just an example, but as it stands now, he’d be competing with Anderson, Hield, Melton, Brandin Podziemski, Jonathan Kuminga, Andrew Wiggins and Lindy Waters III for playing time. There aren’t enough minutes to go around.

The first string of transactions from Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the front office were jabs. They’re trying to set up a knockout punch. With more depth, particularly young players on tradeable contracts, the Warriors have another move to make. If they can connect, the offseason narrative would change dramatically.

The offseason bell hasn’t rung yet. Until “pencils down,” it’s fine to hold off on sweeping judgements.

Thunder the team to beat in the West?

There’s a famous tongue-in-cheek MLB tweet from Sam Miller that goes, “LOVE this trade for the Rays. Who’d they give up? And who’d they get?”

The Thunder are the Tampa Bay Rays of the NBA. The tweet applies just as well to them.

Oklahoma City added defensive stopper Alex Caruso and center Isaiah Hartenstein to an already contending squad. They saw what did and didn’t work in the postseason and worked quickly to patch things up, maintaining their draft capital in the process.

The Thunder finished first in the West last year and got much better. The top seed rarely “wins the offseason.” When they do, look out.

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Summer League musings

The Summer League is abundantly about player development. Just watch warmups: players move with actual purpose and go through real drills. They try to impress their coaches.

These are some of the best players in the world. They’ve gotten drafted and have almost always been the best player on any court they step on.

The difference between them and the NBA’s best is so vast.

Which all makes Bronny James’ place in all this so fascinating.

James averaged 4.8 points per game on a bad USC team last year as a freshman. He’s a 6-foot-1 off guard who isn’t a floor spacer. In his first game as a pro, against the Kings’ B-Team Summer League squad, he didn’t look like he belonged.

It’s only one game, and an exhibition at that, but James hasn’t stood out on a basketball court since his senior year of high school. Adonis Arms, a 26-year-old who didn’t make his high school varsity team until he was a senior and then played at two separate community colleges, was by far the best player in the game. It’s hard to think of a more opposite background than James’s.

The level of competition is otherworldly. If James ever becomes an impact player — a big if – it’ll take quite some time.