In a recent mailbag, Golden State Warriors "Insider" Matt Steinmetz of csnbayarea.com intimated that the Warriors will likely look to trade incumbent starting small forward Dorell Wright. Said Steinmetz:
So, I see the Warriors looking to move Wright, who has just one more year remaining on his deal. Also, even if Wright doesn’t get traded, I don’t see him starting. The reason being that coach Mark Jackson is not a big fan of Wright. That became apparent over the course of the season, with Wright seldom playing when games were on the line.
Pretty shocking, right? Not the part about how the Warriors may trade Wright. That's a no-brainer. The surprising part is that according to Steinmetz, Mark Jackson actually recognized that Wright wasn't the Warriors' best option at the 3.
Maybe I've been too hard on Coach Jackson. He might be coming around after all.
Back to the point, though: of course the Warriors should get Wright out of town.
As Steinmetz correctly points out, Wright is as marketable as he's ever going to be right now. As far as NBA GMs are concerned, Wright's bio contains the most sought-after descriptor imaginable: he's an expiring contract! In the cost-conscious NBA, where every executive is looking to balance the books by clearing cap space, an expiring deal is the hottest commodity around.
If the Warriors are ever going to rid themselves of any of their crippling contracts (I'm looking at you, Andris Biedrins...you, too, Richard Jefferson), they'll have to do it by pairing them with something teams want—like Wright and his cheap, expiring deal.
For that reason alone, the Warriors should be looking to send Wright packing.
But there's more.
Wright, after a surprisingly effective first season in Oakland, didn't regress much last year. In fact, his PER was exactly the same in 2011 and 2012. Yet despite maintaining a respectable level of performance, Wright was simply outplayed by Brandon Rush. Though Rush is more of a 2-guard, he and Wright are asked to do the same two things: shoot threes and defend on the wings.
Rush was far superior to Wright in both areas.
To be fair, Rush was a better shooter than all but six NBA players last year. And among guards, only James Harden, Manu Ginobili and Steve Novak had higher true-shooting percentages than Rush's .628. Wright wasn't alone in being outshot by Rush.
What's interesting is that Rush was also a better defender than Wright, even when he was asked to guard much larger small forwards. Rush allowed opposing small forwards to accrue a PER of 15.0.
Despite Wright's size advantage over Rush, he allowed opposing 3s a PER of 17.9. When asked to defend 2-gaurds, Rush was also better than Wright.
So, the problem isn't that Wright is a bad player; he's average by most metrics.
Rush is just better.
Rush is also a restricted free agent who's already (deservedly) drawn interest from a few teams. The Warriors have made a qualifying offer to Rush, but they're severely cash-strapped. If the Lakers, or anyone else, offer Rush even the mid-level exception of around $5 million, the Warriors won't be able to match...
...unless they save about $3 million by unloading Dorell Wright.
So basically, the Warriors aren't likely to have both Wright and Rush next year. If given the choice, shipping Wright out of town in order to keep Rush makes sense in the ledger and on the court.
No offense to Wright, who's been a solid player and a good citizen, but it's time for him to go.
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