David Lee GS WarriorsThe Golden State Warriors advanced further than most figured they would in the NBA Playoffs. However, that doesn’t mean they’re married to the team that took the San Antonio Spurs to six games in the second round.

They’re in on Dwight Howard, as Jerry West is reportedly leading a contingent that will meet with the free agent center on Monday in Los Angeles. That wasn’t much of a surprise; the Warriors have been interested in every available superstar since Joe Lacob bought the team. But there’s a player in the Warriors’ locker room making superstar money who everyone but Lacob seemed to think was making too much. His spot on the team was safe. Rock solid.

Until now:

The Golden State Warriors  are exploring trade opportunities for All-Star forward David Lee and the three years, $44 million left on his contract, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Warriors forward David Lee had offseason surgery to repair a torn hip flexor. Lee, 30, is a popular and well-respected player within the Golden State franchise but his contract is considerable, and moving him for a star – or a player on a shorter deal – makes financial sense.

Golden State offered Lee in a package for Toronto’s Andrea Bargnani, sources said, but the Raptors made a deal with the New York Knicks to shed the final two years, $22.5 million on Bargnani’s contract.

The Warriors tried to pry Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge as part of an offer that included Brandon Rush, league sources said. Portland has been engaging trade talks for Aldridge, but has pursued more robust offers than Golden State’s proposal, sources said.

There’s very little chance West can convince Howard to sign with Golden State, since Howard’s alternatives consist of either re-upping with the Lakers or heading to Houston to team up with James Harden and the Rockets. The chances are similarly remote that they can get a team to take Lee’s remaining salary, especially since NBA players are judged differently now than they were even a few years ago (translation: the Sloan Conference killed a lot of Lee’s trade value). Plus, the entire league saw how well the Warriors played after Lee tore his hip flexor.

If the Warriors are unable to lure Howard or unload Lee’s contract, the squad will still be fundamentally different next season. The idea that the Warriors are Stephen Curry’s team isn’t all that wild to most fans, but Lee was the team’s first All-Star in over a decade and clearly saw himself as a co-leader with Curry, the teammate he’d “race” from mid-court to the baseline before each game.

Lee was almost like a de facto member of the front office, at least in terms of public perception. It was Lee who was on stage with Gavin Newsom, Ed Lee and the Warriors’ brass at the press conference announcing the Warriors’ intention to move Piers 30-32 in San Francisco, not Curry. Even if Lee is traded, it seems likely he’d end up back with the organization in some capacity if Lacob sticks around for the long haul. However, from now on, Lee is an asset like any other — not THE favorite.

In any case, this is shaping up to be the most interesting Warriors offseason in years. Unless nothing happens, then Lee’s presence on the team and his reaction (or lack thereof) to the first trade rumors involving his name since he was traded to the Warriors will make for some interesting stories during the season.