'This group was maxed': What comes next for Curry, Thompson, Green and the Warriors dynasty

After an an almost decade-long dynasty, Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry and the Warriors face a summer in which their team needs to address franchise-changing questions. Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

BY TIME AND distance the flight from San Francisco to Boston is the longest of any route in the NBA. Gate to gate, 2,704 miles and roughly 5 hours, 40 minutes. Plenty of time to sleep, watch game tape or a movie, depending on the priorities. But Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson didn't do any of those things last June as the Golden State Warriors flew across the country with a 3-2 lead over the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

"We sat at the same table," Green recalled. "And [Warriors general manager] Bob Myers walked past us and he's like, 'You all still sit together?'"

This time last year, the trio had been together for 10 years. They were about to close out their fourth title. And they were still sitting together on the team plane for the longest flight in the NBA.

"I just said to them, 'Do you know how unusual it is for players to play together for a long time and want to hang out together?'" Myers said. "But they still sat at this table after all these years. I don't think they even know how unique that is because they've never been anywhere else. But people don't stay together this long, and when they do, they tire of each other."

There's a joke about long marriages and short conversations around the dinner table. But these Warriors have made it clear they not only want to stay together, they also still have plenty to say.

The only sign of surrender after Friday's season-ending 122-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals came late in the fourth quarter, when Myers stopped Green from trying to check back into the game with an injured calf.

"This was not a championship group," Green said. "But we have champions, and we're made up of champions.

"And when you have that mindset, you go back to the drawing board, retool and figure it out and go do it again. ... So this group was maxed. We got what we could get out of it. But this thing isn't maxed. We'll get more out of it."

All season the Warriors' core has played with the idea that this could be their last run together as they age into their mid-30s and the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement makes it harder and more expensive to keep a team like this together.

Myers would normally be the one to sort through these issues, but his contract is up June 30, and he has told ownership he intends to take time after the season to reflect on everything before he decides his future, team sources say. Coach Steve Kerr has just one season remaining on his deal.

All season these Warriors have tried to stay present and make the most of the time they have left together. They didn't duck the constant questions about how much longer that would be. If anything they leaned in, reflecting on and memorializing the basketball life they've shared for over a decade so nothing would be unsaid.

"It can only last so long. We know this isn't going forever," Kerr said at the beginning of the 2022-23 season. "This could be the last year, maybe next year is the last year. ... We're in the final stages. We know that. We want to make the most of it."

Now that the Warriors have been eliminated from the playoffs, that reality is upon them.

THERE HAS ALWAYS been a problem with the comparison of the Warriors to "The Last Dance." Phil Jackson coined that term because Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause told the coach before the 1997-98 season that the team would not be extending his contract after the season.

There was clarity the whole time. Closure.

Bulls players and personnel could make plans for their futures, knowing Krause had already decided how and when the team would move forward.

Kerr was a player on that "Last Dance" team and has often tried to point out the differences from that situation to his current one. But the narrative is too delicious. Too easy. And so it persists.

"I get it," Myers told ESPN. "But just as we anoint and crown people too fast, we bury 'em too fast, too."