OAKLAND -- If this season taught us anything, it's that the Warriors have not quite cracked the elite of the NBA.
Joining that club, defeating the current members of it, requires everything going perfectly for the Warriors. And that's not going to happen, not for this franchise.
So now begins the renovations. Yes, they are required.
Contrary to popular belief, the Warriors did not underachieve. At best they overachieved and at worst they wound up right where they should be. But to say they belonged in the class with San Antonio and Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers is to view the world through blue and yellow goggles.
The good news is the Warriors are right on the cusp. Over the long haul, and in a seven-game series, Golden State doesn't quite stack up with the top. But they are right there.
The bad news is that getting what it takes to make that next step will be difficult to pull off. The Warriors have four starters making $10 million or more, and Klay Thompson is due an extension. And the player the Warriors would be most willing to trade, David Lee, is due $30.5 million over the next two years -- a tough contract to move.
But it has to be done. If the talk about winning a championship is serious, if the Warriors are not satisfied with having a lower seed and a puncher's chance in the postseason, they have to upgrade.
Get another star: The series against the Clippers exposed the desperate need for the Warriors to get Stephen Curry some help.
The elite teams in the Western Conference feature at least two stars. San Antonio, Oklahoma City, the Clippers, Houston and Portland -- all have a tandem of players who consistently strike fear in defenses, draw double-teams and dominate games.
And the upper echelon of those teams even have a third star.
The Warriors have Curry. He strikes so much fear in opponents that it frees his teammates to have big games. But as dynamic as he is, having one star makes the Warriors less dynamic than other elites.
The Clippers called out that reality by relentlessly double-teaming the Warriors star. Andre Iguodala was supposed to be that big splash. But if this year was an indicator, he'll be a defensive specialist and a glue guy on offense.
General manager Bob Myers needs to go big for a difference-maker. (Isn't LeBron James considering opting out of Miami?)
A trade for Kevin Love, who is expected to push for a trade after another disappointing season with Minnesota, would give the Warriors a formidable one-two punch. Landing Detroit's restricted free agent Greg Monroe would give the Warriors a budding star who could add some years to the aging core.
Even Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to opt out of his contract, would upgrade the talent. He would be an expensive addition, no doubt, but as a power forward he'd bring the spacing the Warriors lacked all season.
Acquiring a major talent is usually pipe-dreamish, as the Warriors learned in past pursuits of James and Dwight Howard. Especially so because the Warriors don't have much they are willing to give up.
The most attractive pieces are Harrison Barnes and some expiring contracts.
Reconfigure the bench: The loss of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, whose prices were too rich for the Warriors' liking, forced Myers to rebuild the bench. Striking out on a couple players turned the Warriors' bench from a strength into a liability.
The Warriors desperately need a guard who makes his living off penetration, a game-changer who can serve as the sixth man. A return of Jeremy Lin via trade would be ideal. Detroit free agent combo guard Rodney Stuckey would be good, too. (Oracle fans still love Jack.)
Whomever the Warriors get, it's important they fill in the gaps left by the starters. They don't need a midrange shooting big man coming off the bench. They don't need a jump-shooting guard to back up Curry, or a key reserve who needs his shot created for him, or a center who can't post up.
Upgrade the offense: The offensive talent on the roster figures to make the Warriors a top-10 offense. But the last two years they've been average.
Some of the scoring struggles can be fixed by the aforementioned. But some of it can be improved by schematic adjustment.
Passing is a strength of the Warriors. Their front line is more skilled than imposing on that end of the court. The offense needs to include more movement and versatility.