Each year, every NBA team approaches the February trade deadline differently. Trades before the deadline are almost guaranteed for a team like the Phoenix Suns this year, where an unhappy Amar'e Stoudemire is barely putting forth any effort in games.
With Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash, and Grant Hill coming close to the ends of their careers and the championship window closing, the Suns are in danger of missing the 2009 playoffs.
On the other side of the spectrum are the Golden State Warriors.
Besieged by injuries the entire year, the Warriors arguably face the toughest decision in the league in whether or not to make a roster move. Current injuries include Marco "When did I become the best defender on the team?" Belinelli and Brandan "Why did I get injured in my best performance all season?" Wright.
Recent games have not made the decision any easier. The Warriors have gone from getting blown out by their former nemesis—the Dallas Mavericks—to losing in overtime to the stalwart San Antonio Spurs, to never trailing against the Phoenix Suns in a landslide.
With such spastic levels of play, I think the best way to approach the trade deadline is to envision how each player's future might unfold with Golden State. For brevity, I will skip Rob Kurz, Jermareo Davidson, and Marcus Williams as they would only be fillers in trades.
While his recent 0-for-7 outing in the blowout against the Suns may worry some people, Ellis is still considered untouchable in my book. He still hasn't had much practice and seems afraid to drive after picking up so many charges in his first few games back. By next season, he will be back to his old self.
I should not have to say anything about Andris. He's the man. Great attitude, does everything he's asked to, and will eventually get respect from the officials. Untouchable.
Jack had his first career triple-double against the Suns, but Warriors fans still cringe as he dribbles into double-teams and turns the ball over every game. As to whether or not to trade Jackson, I would be open to it, but most other teams probably wouldn't be after his recent contract extension through 2013.
Crawford is the only veteran on this team with a short contract, which makes him more valuable to other teams. However, I really love Crawford's attitude, especially for allegedly calling out Maggette in the Spurs game for being selfish.
This is one of the tougher decisions for the franchise. Crawford can opt out after this season, making his future with the team unknown. I'd be open to all offers, but I would not be mad if he stayed on for the remainder of the season.
Maggette has been the Warriors' ace off the bench. While many people are astounded by his ability to put up 20-plus points on less than 10 field goal attempts, I'm not so thrilled.
Everyone talks about how proficient he is at getting to the free throw line, however, you have to consider how many times the Warriors have actually won this season with Maggette playing.
You also have to consider the Warriors' best offensive performance of the season where the ball moved well for most of the game (save a few Jackson and Maggette isolations). When you examine that game, the frightening statistic is Maggette's free throws: 1-for-2.
Are the Warriors a smoother offensive team without Maggette? I would be the first one to say definitively yes. Trade him for an expiring contract.
How can you not love Buike sticking it to Stern by nailing four three-pointers in the first quarter against the Suns after not having a Warrior named to the three-point shootout? Buike is a keeper in my opinion.
I wouldn't consider him untouchable because other teams may value him, but I would be hesitant to get rid of him. He is a cheaper, better three-point shooting Maggette. He just doesn't get the instant foul calls, which isn't really a bad thing for the Warriors.
Untouchable. Some people may think I'm crazy, but I value chemistry as much as skill at the NBA level, since pretty much everyone that plays in the league is skilled.
It's clear that Marco and Andris have become great friends, and along with Marco's defensive epiphany this season, he's become untouchable.
Wright should definitely not be traded until we see more of him. His game against the Lakers was so intriguing that he deserves the rest of the year to prove he can rebound like that again. If he can't bring that performance back, then maybe consider trading him in the offseason.
It may be a dangerous thing to leave decisions completely up to head coach Don Nelson at this point, since I am not sure where his head is sometimes, but I think you would have to leave it to the experts on Morrow.
If Nellie and the other coaches think that Morrow has peaked as a remarkable shooter, then I'd consider selling him high. If there's potential to become an average defender, he's definitely a keeper.
How do you say untouchable in French? Turiaf is the best thing the Warriors have had this season, especially with his recent surge in rebounding. I just love watching him reject attempted dunks by opposing star players, though. I would pay just to watch 48 minutes of that.
This is probably the toughest choice on the team. With Randolph recently firing his agent, he may soon petition his way into a trade. I would prefer to hold onto him because he has All-Star potential.
This is one that I wouldn't leave in Nellie's hands. If the Warriors had a decent owner, that owner would tell Nellie that the season is lost and Randolph needs to play at least eight minutes every game.
C.J. has magically discovered his jumper this year, making him more valuable. If only he would not try to steal the ball all the time he might be even more valuable. He'd be a decent backup point guard to package in any deal, but isn't that what Marcus Williams has been kept for? C.J. is fine here.
As you can see, I'm not so high on breaking up this team. I do believe that the problem with the team is contained within the three vets: Jackson, Maggette, and Crawford. In my opinion, at least one of them has to be gone by the beginning of next season.
Come playoff time this season, I'll be rooting for the Blazers. Hopefully the Warriors will take a page out of the Blazers' book and develop the solid young core over the next few years.