Will Curry’s injury force the Warriors to trade top prospects to save season?

James Wiseman, Warriors, Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
James Wiseman, Warriors, Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

The struggling Golden State Warriors were dealt another blow when it was announced that superstar Stephen Curry would miss at least two weeks with a shoulder injury. Curry has helped prop up the Warriors’ offense with incredible performance after incredible performance, helping offset their disappointing defense, and with him out, they could struggle on both ends and fall further in the standings. Before Curry’s injury, the Warriors had been linked to several veteran players, including Jae Crowder and Jakob Poeltl, in the hopes of bolstering their rotation.

However, acquiring key veterans could require them to include James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, or Moses Moody in a trade, not to mention draft picks. For instance, the San Antonio Spurs aren’t particularly high on either Wiseman or Kuminga but they like Moody. Would the Warriors make a move to win now by trading Moody in a deal for Poeltl?

On one hand, he would be a significant upgrade at center and would add depth to their frontcourt. On the other hand, Moody could play a key role on the team down the road, as could Wiseman and Kuminga.

The Warriors will have to weigh the risk of trading top prospects for veterans.

Wiseman is definitely behind where he should be, given that he was the second overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Still, he missed a lot of his rookie year and all of last season, and giving up on him might be premature, and it could come back to haunt the Warriors. Then again, he was only merely good in his NBA G League stint and probably won’t crack their rotation this season barring an injury to Kevon Looney or Jamychal Green.

He could still develop over the rest of this season and the offseason, then hit the ground running in year four, but that too is a risk for the Warriors since he’ll be making $10.6 million and may or may not be a rotation-caliber center by that point. Meanwhile, Kuminga has developed at a solid rate, particularly on the defensive end.

Still, he isn’t a threat from outside and gets a lot of his buckets by simply backdoor cutting to the basket when other teams hone in on Curry. He’s a rotation player in his second season on a playoff team, but barring significant shooting improvement, his ceiling is limited. Moody, like Kuminga, has shown flashes but has always been regarded as a less NBA-ready prospect. He’ll take more time to develop, time the Warriors may not have.

Would a win-now trade help or hurt the Warriors?

Desperation could come into play in the decision-making process with the Warriors currently at 14-16 and their best player out for at least two weeks. If they are still below 500 whenever he returns, then the odds of a win-now trade would probably be much higher than they are now. Teams have recovered from slow starts before, but 29 games is more than a third of the season, and Curry won’t be back until at least January.

Being 20-20 a month before the trade deadline is one thing, but they are the defending champions, and they face an increasingly tough route to repeating without making a deal. Even if they do, they would probably have to run the gauntlet and face at least two of Memphis, New Orleans, Denver, and Phoenix en route to another NBA Finals appearance.

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Ultimately, the Warriors will have to decide whether to go all-in on a big trade to try and salvage this season in hopes of winning another championship with their core. Or, they could play out the year and keep their best young prospects in the hopes that they can make a big impact next season and going forward. It’s a tough decision to make, but they may be better off doing the latter, even if it costs them a chance to defend their title.