First-year general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr.'s first official act as head basketball decision-maker for the Golden State Warriors was jettisoning home-grown guard Jordan Poole for future Hall of Famer Chris Paul. It's a good move, as the addition gives the Warriors a better shot at winning their fifth ring in 10 seasons.
With Paul, the Warriors have a reliable offensive weapon that provides Golden State with the perfect change-of-pace ballhandler behind Stephen Curry. He also provides intangibles fellow guard Poole doesn't — leadership, for one.
"Everywhere Chris goes he makes teams better. He just makes the game simple," former NBA player Matt Barnes said recently on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game.
When looking at the longer term, Golden State loses out on this deal. Poole is loaded with talent and a microwave on offense. Trading a 24-year-old who could turn into an All-Star for Paul, 38, who has been injured in four of his past six playoff runs, doesn't bode well for the long term.
However, the long term doesn't matter now. All that matters is next season and maximizing the championship window of 35-year-old Curry, a once-in-a-generation superstar. CP3 will undoubtedly be a more capable and productive player in 2023-24 than Poole was this past season.
Last season for the Suns, Paul averaged 13.9 points, 8.9 assists and 4.3 rebounds and shot 37.5 percent from beyond the arc. Poole, meanwhile, averaged 20.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.7 rebounds (33.6 percent from three). He's a better scorer than Paul, but Paul has a unique skill set that is unmatched on this roster.
Many pundits point out the opposing playing styles of Golden State's run-and-gun and Paul's deliberate, surgical attacks and decision-making. But Paul's style, used in doses, should help the Warriors.
Golden State won't revamp its identity, but slowing it offensive game occasionally and running pick-and-rolls aren't bad ideas. The Warriors second unit struggled mightily last season, mostly due to poor shot selection and turnovers. That will change fast with Paul, who is great at getting teammates involved in the offense.
On Paul George's podcast recently, Warriors forward Draymond Green said, "Our team last year didn't have a variety in ways it could score, and I think CP adds another thing to the menu."
Golden State is clearly taking a gamble. If Paul were to break down again this season and be unable to finish another playoff run, it would be a disaster. But the Warriors and owner Joe Lacob have the utmost trust in Rick Celebrini, the team's director of sports medicine and performance.
Outside of the 2019 NBA Finals in which Golden State's roster fell apart, losing Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to season-ending injuries, the organization has been incredibly successful in keeping its players healthy.
If Golden State can keep Paul healthy, he's a huge upgrade from Poole for the short term.