The headlines will emphasize the jaw-dropping, record-scratch moment that is Chris Paul coming to the Warriors for what could be as brief as a few hours or as long as a couple years.
The more significant statement being made here, however, is about the Warriors giving up on Jordan Poole.
Giving up on someone that they loved during the 2021-22 championship season. Someone they were willing, only eight months ago, to hand a sizable portion of their salary cap. Someone they believed in . . . until they did not.
This is, on its surface, the second pedal-to-the-metal decision the Warriors have made over the past four months, following the decision to walk away from James Wiseman in February. Only one year ago, Poole and Wiseman were, according to the Warriors, cornerstones of the future.
Wiseman was seven weeks from his 22nd birthday when his departure created an opening for 30-year-old Gary Payton II. Poole was one week past his 24th birthday when he was sent away – along with future draft picks – in exchange for Chris Paul, who turned 38 last month.
The Warriors aren’t shifting away from the two-timeline approach they favored entering training camp last September. They’re jackhammering the whole idea into oblivion.
Not to worry, though. Should they keep CP3, he’ll know his place in the team’s hierarchy. He won’t be asked to lead. His well-earned reputation for grinding the nerves of teammates won’t be tested. That act doesn’t fly when playing 16 minutes per game.
Paul will be asked to play spot minutes behind franchise player Stephen Curry. He’ll be tasked with staying healthy enough to make valuable contributions in a plan not much different from that which was formulated for Otto Porter Jr. when he arrived as a free agent two summers ago.
Put another way, Paul will be the next massive project for Dr. Rick Celebrini, Golden State’s highly trusted master of all that is health and performance. A healthy CP3, given his experience and fearlessness, would be of immense benefit for any team entering the postseason.
As for the possibility of conflict with Curry, fear not. Curry is one of the most adaptive players in NBA history. Besides, the Curry-Paul relationship is acutely competitive on the court but, perhaps, surprisingly cordial off it.
For the moment, the Warriors have opted out of a young potential star in Poole and into a wily veteran who should be the best backup Curry has ever been able to watch as he rests.
For the Warriors in their current state, tomorrow is a myth. Today is the only thing that is real.