Golden State Warriors: Ranking the Worst Management Decisions in Team History
Calling anyone in the Warriors' front office "management" seems like a slap in the face to the business world. Warriors fans could give you a lot of other names they've used for the people (none of which I could list here), but since "management" probably appears on their business cards then I'll go with "management" here.
In their defense, they have "managed" to screw up draft pick after draft pick, undervalue the right pieces and grossly overvalue the wrong ones on the free-agent market and win maybe five percent of the trades they've been involved in.
Somehow, they haven't yet "managed" to completely alienate one of the league's best fanbases, but that could be coming sooner than later.
The Warriors may be the most inept franchise in all of professional sports over the past 20 years. It's amazing that I could even "manage" to get this list down to just six horrendous decisions.
6. Using the Amnesty Clause on Charlie Bell
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For those paying attention to the league's labor negotiations of less than a year ago, the one intriguing item that emerged was the league's amnesty clause.
This was not a foreign concept to the NBA. It had first appeared in 2005 and was later known as the "Allan Houston Rule." In short, the amnesty clause allows each franchise a one-time chance to erase their worst contract from their team.
The club is still required to pay the player's salary, but the impact of that salary is removed. The 2005 amnesty clause removed the contract's luxury tax obligations, while the 2011 amnesty removed the contract from the team's salary cap altogether.
Rashard Lewis, believe it or not, the league's second-highest paid player, became the face of Amnesty 2.0, but the Warriors had two players who could've just as easily been the face of the clause.
The obvious choice was Andris Biedrins, the latest terrible contract for a Warriors big man. Although, it somehow looked worse than the ridiculous money dolled out to Erick Dampier, Adonal Foyle and Troy Murphy over the past decade.
Biedrins, and his career 7.1 points and 7.6 rebounds, has handcuffed the franchise with three years and $27 million remaining on his contract. He's failed to average more than 24 minutes per game in three seasons, although considering how bad he's been on the court, the Warriors are probably grateful that that number is not higher.
The other option was second-year power forward David Lee. Lee was the first big acquisition of the team's new ownership. The trade was completed before the new ownership was officially in place, but Lacob supported the move and has been as good as advertised in his brief Warriors career.
Unfortunately, Lee's goods (20.2 points and 9.6 rebounds) haven't helped the Warriors in the standings nor justified the six-year, $80 million contract he signed in 2010.
Either had a strong argument for being amnestied and would've brought great relief to the financially strapped Warriors. So, management decided to erase the expiring $4 million contract of seldom-used guard Charlie Bell so they could make an offer to restricted free-agent DeAndre Jordan.
The Los Angeles Clippers matched Jordan's offer sheet, and the Warriors now appear at least two seasons away from having any cap room.
5. Using the No. 1 Overall Pick on Joe Smith
The Warriors have had more than their fare share of draft-day blunders. But given the rarity of holding the top spot in the draft (this would be their only No. 1 pick since 1980), the Warriors couldn't afford to miss this pick.
With the Warriors still holding on to two-thirds of Run T.M.C. (Tim Hardway and Chris Mullin) and budding superstar Latrell Sprewell, the team hoped to find the missing piece and become a Western Conference contender.
Joe Smith, unfortunately, proved to be anything but that piece.
In the team's defense, Smith was seen as the consensus best player in the draft by many. He had just finished his sophomore season at Maryland with 20.8 points and 10.6 rebounds and was the year's Naismith Award winner (given to college basketball's top player).
Smith finished second in the 1995-96 Rookie of the Year Award voting, after averaging 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds. But his stint in Oakland would last just two-and-a-half seasons before the Warriors sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers. Changes of scenery became common place for the former Terrapin, who would eventually play for 12 different NBA teams.
Second-guessing draft picks is commonplace in sports and would resonate over any top selection who left their franchise after that short of a stay. Of course, that second-guessing increases when other more viable draft options arise.
This is where the Smith selection looks so bad. After Smith came off the draft board, the next four picks were (in order): Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett.
4. Disbanding the 'We Believe' Team as Quickly as It Was Put Together
Chris Mullin's tenure as Warriors GM can be defined by a handful of moves regardless of whether you're a fan of his or not.
For his detractors, their argument starts and stops here: Mullin signed Adonal Foyle, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy to a combined 17 years and $144 million.
Those contracts could cripple franchise if they all came within a decade of each other. Unfortunately for Mullin supporters, these deals were all signed in a two-year span.
His supporters, likewise, can keep their argument to these two deals: he turned Speedy Claxton and the corpse of Dale Davis into a rejuvenated (and underrated) Baron Davis and turned two of those bad contracts (Dunleavy and Murphy) along with Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod into Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Josh Powell and Sarunas Jasikevicius.
Mullin's two trades spurned the "We Believe" run for the 2006-07 Warriors. The team won 16 of its last 21 regular-season games and earned the club's first playoff berth since 1994. The eighth-seeded Warriors made basketball history when they knocked off the defending Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks in six games.
But just as quickly as the "We Believe" squad came together, it was disbanded. Star shooting guard Jason Richardson was dealt over the 2007 summer to the Charlotte Bobcats in a draft-day trade for Brandan Wright. Over the next two seasons, Davis, Harrington and Jackson all left the Bay.
The team has yet to make a postseason return since.
3. The Chris Webber Debacle
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The 1992-93 Warriors entered the season with more question marks than most clubs, with three postseason appearances in four seasons, should have.
The Warriors were fresh off a 55-win season (a franchise-high since 1975-76) and led by their strong perimeter trio (Hardaway, Mullin and Mitch Richmond), playing one of the most exciting styles of basketball in the league.
But Richmond was no longer a Warrior after being dealt (in a move that nearly made this list), along with Les Jepsen for the draft rights to Billy Owens.
The team had a rookie star that season (Sprewell, not Owens) but still limped to a 34-48 finish. The Warriors nabbed Anfernee Hardaway with the third pick in the 1993 draft but sent him (and three future first-round picks) to Washington in exchange for the top pick that season—Webber.
Webber, a reigning first-team All-American and Naismith Award finalist, was college basketball's best prospect after a two-year stay at the University of Michigan. An athletic big man with tremendous court vision for any player, he appeared to be the missing cog in Nelson's high-octane offense.
But while Webber hoped to use his passing and ball-handling skills to complement the Warriors' offensive talents, coach Don Nelson wanted him to be the low-post player his Warriors never had. He often became Nelson's small-ball center, much to his dismay.
The rift between player and coach grew as the year went on, with the front office finally stepping in at season's end, trading for Miami big-man Rony Seikaly to play center alongside Webber.
But the gap between player and coach had become too great. Webber exercised a one-year escape clause in his contract and the Warriors were forced to deal him to Washington for Tom Gugliotta (who played just one year with Golden State) and three first-round picks (which became Todd Fuller, Keon Clark and Chris Mihm).
2. Trading Wilt Chamberlain
With the franchise in financial disarray, the San Francisco Warriors traded the fifth-year big man to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1965.
The money problems had to be dire as Chamberlain had needed all of one NBA season to set single-season records in points (37.6) and rebounds (27). By his third season, he had set several NBA records including highest scoring average (50.4) and most points scored in a single game (100 on March 2, 1962). Both records stand to this day.
No NBA franchise wins when they trade away an all-time great. But the Warriors could've done better than this. In exchange for the five-time scoring champ, the Warriors received Paul Neumann, Connie Dierking, Lee Shafer and cash.
Neumann had the longest tenure of the three with the Warriors, where he lasted all of two-and-a-half seasons. Dierking was gone before the start of the 1965-66 season. Shafer, meanwhile, opted to retire rather than play a single game for the Warriors.
1. Trading Robert Parish and Kevin McHale
For all the pro-tanking Warrior fans out there, take one precaution in your lottery wishes: don't hope for the Warriors to land the first pick.
The last two times haven't worked out so well.
In 1980, the Warriors acquired the No. 1 pick (Joe Barry Carroll) and the 13th pick (Rickey Brown) from the Boston Celtics in exchange for their starting center (Robert Parish) and the No. 3 pick (Kevin McHale).
Carroll's numbers with the Warriors were good (he averaged over 20 points in four consecutive seasons), but the team managed just two winning seasons(1981-82 and 1986-87) during his five years with the club. He even spurned the team for Italy, where he played the 1984-85 season for Simac Milano.
He was dealt to the Houston Rockets in 1987-88 along with Sleepy Floyd for an aging Ralph Sampson and Steve Harris.
White failed to average better than 5.7 points or 4.4 rebounds and couldn't last three years with the club.
Parish and McHale, meanwhile, would team with Larry Bird (whom the Warriors had passed on in the 1978 draft for Purvis Short) to bring the Celtics three championships in the 1980s.