Kurtenbach: If the Warriors want to contend in 2025, they need to trade Jonathan Kuminga [Mailbag]

It’s been a while since we went to the KurtenBag.

So, let’s fix that.

If you want in on the next edition (or if you just want to yell at me about this one), you can email me, text me, or DM me. It’s all good to me.

Now to your questions:

Will the Warriors have to trade Kuminga for that one player who can put them over the top?

Well, the player who would put the Warriors (who were the No. 10 seed in the West) over the top is probably not going to be Kuminga anytime soon (if ever)…

So… yes.

That said, the options are rather bleak, and it takes two to tango. The Warriors are high on Kuminga; they don’t want to trade him for anything less than a sure thing. I don’t think the rest of the league shares their opinion on JK. To them, he’s a nice player with plenty of upside, but we have said the same thing about John Collins for years, didn’t we?

If you believe Kuminga (and picks and Andrew Wiggins) should go in exchange for a bonafide No. 2, you need to be hoping for sheer chaos in the league this offseason. I’m not optimistic that will happen, given the league’s parity and the new collective bargaining agreement.

I suggested a few names a couple of weeks ago (or was it days?), and the target that has grown on me the most is Dejaunte Murray.

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I don’t think Murray is a superstar or even someone on the verge of stardom, but he would fill some vacancies for the Warriors.

The first is the need for someone to defend the damn ball on the perimeter. Klay Thompson used to do that, but those days are over. Andrew Wiggins did it, too, and I can’t explain why he stopped. Kuminga can do it, but not at Murray’s level. Murray is long, a former All-Defense team member, and would give the Warriors great on-the-ball pressure and the ability to switch more (a necessity in the pick-and-roll dominant NBA.)

Murray can also handle the ball and run the second unit when Steph Curry (but really Draymond Green) is off the floor. With Chris Paul likely gone, someone has to fill that job.

Murray averaged 22.5 points per game last season for the Hawks on average shooting splits. There’s room for that side of his game to grow a bit, too. He’s going into his age-28 season.

Is he a worthy upgrade over Kuminga? That depends on how you view JK.

I’d make the trade if you keep draft picks out of the mix. The Hawks seem like willing sellers — they need a re-set and the concept of Kuminga and Tre Young on the pick-and-roll could be pretty exciting. The Warriors can rightly claim they brought in another All-Star in their prime — they would likely have to replace Wiggins, though, and that’s easier said than done. (He’d be included for salary-matching purposes.)

There is another player who could be traded to the Bay this summer. His name is Kevin Durant. Ever heard of him?

Sadly, I don’t think that will happen.

Pearsall — who would you say is his pro comparison?

As a society, we’ve run out of white receivers to compare Pearsall. I’ve heard it all: Julian Edelman, Adam Thielen, and I might have suggested Cooper Kupp once or twice.

We’re a few days away from a Wayne Chrebet or Steve Largent comp.

But the actual comp is Saints Z receiver Chris Olave, albeit with appreciably more athleticism.

Like Olave, Pearsall catches everything, is fearless over the middle, and can win at all three levels. He also is poised to line up as a flanker more often than not. And seeing as Olave has caught 159 passes for 2,165 yards in his first 31 games as a pro, despite having dregs at quarterback, I think this comp, while chromatically dissonant, should please Niners fans.

Which running back will get moved, Elijah Mitchell or J.P. Mason?

I don’t think there will be a trade market for either, but if we expand your question to mean, “Which of these 49ers running backs won’t make the 2024 team?” I’m inclined to say “both.”

Mason is the one most likely not to make the team. I think he’s a good back who’s worthy of carries, but Kyle Shanahan clearly disagrees. And while Mason has been a valuable special teams player for the 49ers, San Francisco spent its offseason adding nothing but guys with good special teams upside.

Seriously, it was like a fetish.

Mason seems on the outs. Another team will reap the rewards.

And I don’t think the Niners can go into the 2024 season trusting Mitchell to stay on the field, seeing as every time he played last season, he seemingly was injured for a week or two afterward. Such is the plight of an undersized back who plays a big back’s game. He was here for a good time, not a long time.

Perhaps someone will send a seventh-round draft pick the Niners’ way for Mitchell. I doubt that happens because of the aforementioned reasons.

But if the Niners are going to carry three “true” running backs (plus a fullback), who is in?

Fourth-round pick Isaac Guerendo is in, for sure. He’s Raheem Mostert with 20 extra pounds. I expect him to be a revelation this upcoming season.

And then there’s Alfred Morris 2.0 (we all remember how much Shanny loved him) — Mizzou running back (aka the best running back in America last season) and undrafted free agent Cody Schrader will take the other role.

I am biased here, as he’s a fellow True Son, but landing Schrader was a coup for the Niners.

This guy went from Truman State to walk-on at Mizzou to being the SEC’s best back on one of the nation’s best teams, putting up great games against the best competition Mizzou faced last season.

Doubt this man at your peril.

How many hours did you spend watching draft prospects?

Too many.

But seriously, I love doing draft prep, and with my podcast, KNBR radio, and this venerable establishment all wanting that sweet, sweet content, the effort was well worth it. If nothing else, I have a head start on the 2025 NFL season.

I would estimate that I put in two hours a night, six nights a week for 10 weeks. (I told you I love this stuff).

But even then, I came up short. I pride myself on having a couple of minutes (or a few hundred words) of understanding on every possible 49ers target, but I had to cram study Jarrett Kingston after he was drafted. How I missed a guard with a short shuttle time like that is unacceptable, and I apologize for the shortcoming. It won’t happen again.

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