Your Golden State Warriors tip off the 2023-24 season Tuesday night in Kevin Durant’s first game before Warriors fans since he left town, but the blockbuster trade for future Hall of Famer Chris Paul will likely determine whether these Warriors can be NBA champions again.
It will be appointment viewing with plenty of drama this evening when the Golden State Warriors begin their 2023-24 NBA season at Chase Center against the Phoenix Suns (7 p.m. PT, and oh yes it will be on TNT), in a game that’s much juicier than any normal regular season game. That’s because it will be Kevin Durant’s first game in front of Chase Center fans since the All-Star bolted for the the so-called superteam Brooklyn Nets in 2019 (yeah, some superteam that ended up being, and Durant has since been traded to Phoenix).
Kevin Durant is set to finally play at Chase Center for the first time and he'll do so with two other Kevin Durants because all of his other teammates are injured. https://t.co/nUguF7uWVu— sreekar (@sreekyshooter) October 24, 2023
Will fans boo or cheer Durant? I’m guessing they will boo his ass! Technically, this is not Durant’s first game back at the Chase Center, but it’s his first game at Chase Center with fans in the stands. CBS Sports has a convenient explainer on why Durant hasn’t played here in four whole years: the 2019-20 season was wrecked by COVID and then sent to “the bubble,” the Warriors’ 2021 home game against Brooklyn was played at the Chase Center but with no fans in the stands, and Durant’s various injuries have kept him from any of his team’s games at Chase Center since.
Here are the latest NBA Title odds as we get ready for Opening Night 👀 pic.twitter.com/T43hYHApM9— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) October 24, 2023
Durant’s return is really just a one-night story. More significant to Warriors fans is whether they are going to win the title after the stunning trade for 12-time All-Star Chris Paul makes them possibly a superteam again. The Las Vegas odds do not consider the Warriors strong title favorites, as MGM has the Dubs with the sixth-highest odds to win the championship. The top five ahead of them are overall favorites Boston Celtics, followed by the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, and Los Angeles Lakers.
The arrival of Paul has to have Warriors fans thinking they’ve solved the issue of the team playing lousy whenever Steph Curry was on the bench. And as seen above, Paul has a proven track record of making teams better once he’s on the roster. But on the other hand, Paul is 38 (!) years old, and his most recent Suns playoff series consisted of two ineffective games on the court, followed by four games on the bench, mostly wearing street clothes.
Reporting on @RunItBackFDTV: There's a significant gap in extension negotiations for Golden State and Klay Thompson, league sources say, as current signs point to the four-time champion going into 2024 free agency. pic.twitter.com/0U0wSXo0hR— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 23, 2023
Potentially more troubling is the season’s other big subplot, that it is the final year of Klay Thompson’s contract. Usually a player of Thompson’s caliber has already received a megabucks contract extension before said contract hits its final year, but Klay and the Warriors are reportedly “at a dead point,” as The Athletic's Shams Charania explains above. So this could affect Thompson’s or the team’s morale, and theoretically, could even spur unheard-of talk of trading Klay Thompson at the trade deadline (February 8, 2024).
Klay ain goin nowhere…He’s a Dub…— Mychal Thompson (@champagnennuts) October 20, 2023
Is it a good thing when your dad is chiming in on your contract negotiations on Twitter? To be clear, it is always good to be Klay Thompson. Moreover, Klay’s dad Mychal Thompson, whose tweet is shown above, is a 14-year NBA veteran who won two championships. So that is informed speculation.
Steve Kerr has ruled Draymond Green for Tuesday's opener. He says he wants Dray to more practices under his belt and ease into playing shape. He's already back practicing and scrimmaging.— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) October 23, 2023
That left ankle didn't seem to be an issue for him at all on Monday after practice. pic.twitter.com/ql9pbJWzFf
Still, the Warriors have other issues. They absolutely stank on the road last year, and were turnover-prone even at home. I don’t know if Chris Paul solves that. Draymond Green (who will not play tonight) has shown a tendency to create unnecessary conflict. The team doesn’t really have a true center, and they’re small up front. And as noted with Chris Paul, the Golden State Warriors are old.
Image: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 18: Stephen Curry #30 and Chris Paul #3 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after Curry made a three-point shot against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at Chase Center on October 18, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)