OAKLAND--The Warriors have earned their optimism fair and fervently this time.
So when I asked Stephen Curry on Friday if this franchise has the players to win a championship soon, he didn't need to offer any bit of massaged truth.
"I think so -- I mean, we're young, and we have a great core," Curry said a day after the Warriors' second-round playoff exit. "Obviously it takes a lot of things going right for anybody to win a championship. But I feel like we have the pieces to do it."
Curry said this with the pride and experience of just having taken the San Antonio Spurs to six games.
But as the players trickled into Warriors headquarters for their exit interviews with coach Mark Jackson and general manager Bob Myers, there was an obvious larger truth, too.
As much as it took to lift the Warriors to 47 regular-season victories and that first-round conquering of Denver, it will take more to push them into true title-contention.
Here are five central issues for the Warriors, in the order they'll probably have to deal with them ...
After this stirring run, picking up Jackson's option for 2014-15 is a no-brainer for owner Joe Lacob, and probably will happen in the next month or so.
But the Warriors probably should look into signing Jackson for the long-term -- to assure the current core that their leader is staying around and to attract free agents who like what they saw and heard this playoff season.
Andrew Bogut offered a logical opinion Friday: It's probably financially impossible for the Warriors to keep both.
Jack's value to the Warriors exceeds Landry's at this point, and I think he's far more likely to remain here.
With Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green growing up during the playoffs, David Lee is theoretically expendable, but in reality, actually not.
Lacob probably won't allow any serious trade discussions involving his favorite player, and Lee's salary doesn't invite attractive offers, anyway.
So, given their budget restraints and lack of a first-round draft pick, how could the Warriors land a difference-maker such as Andre Iguodala or key piece such as Eric Bledsoe?
Only by offering Barnes or Klay Thompson in trade talks, and I don't believe the Warriors will consider moving either young player this summer.
It's more likely that the Warriors pick up moderate help here and there -- the way they picked up Jack and Landry last summer.
For Curry, it's not a major red flag any more -- he got through the regular season and 12 playoff games without missing a long stretch.
This summer he can focus on strengthening his game -- literally, to absorb the contact and help him power to the lane to draw more fouls.
For Bogut, the Warriors' most important player in the postseason ... it's the whole deal, and there will be no real answer until he shows up at camp healthy (or not) and gets through an entire season (or not).
"I know it's a lot, I guess," Barnes, 20, said. "I can either work on my game, improve a lot, take some pressure off Steph, off Klay, those guys, not only find the shot but also create for others. If I improve I can obviously help.
"And if not, I guess, be in the exact same situation we were in this year."
The future is bright. The key players are there. But so is the responsibility: You don't win championships by standing still; you win them by constantly making the smartest decisions.
Poole: The Warriors players see a culture change under CEO Joe Lacob. Page 7
Notebook: Andrew Bogut, despite playing in pain, is not happy about losing. Page 7
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