Well, this has been a while.
With the NBA trade deadline approaching, we can actually discuss the Golden State Warriors and trades without involving the phrases “for the future" or “salary dump.” Now they can look to add pieces to help them not only make a playoff push, but a push into the second round of the postseason or beyond!
The best part of the upcoming trade deadline is that no move really needs to be made in order for the team to make the playoffs—a big deal when you have made the postseason just twice in the last 19 seasons. As it stands, the Warriors are fifth in the Western Conference and fighting for home-court advantage in the first round.
So with the way the team is clicking right now, a trade doesn’t seem all that likely. Plus, they are short on assets, which might be a good thing since they are low on needs and high on chemistry.
But that doesn’t mean a deal couldn't make things even better.
This looks like a team that no one would want to play in the first round of the playoffs. In fact, this looks like a team that no one would want to play in the second round, either!
Could a potential trade possibly make them into a title contender?
What the Warriors could really use is another big man.
Ideally, that man would be Andrew Bogut. However, he is still without a timeline to return and the Warriors may not see him on the floor again this season. Festus Ezeli has done a nice job filling in for him, but Golden State could use another body in the post other than Andris Biedrins.
A potential target could be DeJuan Blair, who has really fallen out of favor with the San Antonio Spurs. He would provide the Warriors with an offensive upgrade on the block and bring postseason experience to a team that really doesn’t have any. His defense isn’t all that great, but that’s what Ezeli brings to the table. The two could from a nice combo together.
What Golden State could offer the Spurs is a package of Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins. San Antonio would be getting another big man that they would just sit on the bench, but more importantly, they would be getting a very underrated point guard in Jenkins.
With Jarrett Jack being a free agent after this season, Jenkins is a valuable insurance policy, but if he could net the Warriors a center, that is something they should consider.
The Warriors lost quite a bit when Brandon Rush went down. The team has rallied around that loss with the help of strong rookie play from Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. But the Warriors could use another strong perimeter defender who is also an offensive weapon.
Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons could be that man. He would essentially fill Rush’s shoes and give the Warriors three legit wing defenders in Green, Barnes and Prince.
A possible deal could include the Warriors getting Prince and Jonas Jerebko for Richard Jefferson and Tyler.
The Pistons would be essentially getting out from the last year of Prince’s contract, as well as the likely exercised player option that Jerebko owns in 2013-2014, saving them over $12 million that season. The Warriors would be taking on extra salary, but to get a defender like Prince. it just might be worth it.
Another area of need for the Warriors is scoring off the bench. Someone to provide instant offense who would become the main backup for Curry. Ideally, someone who could step in if Curry was to miss any more time again. The Warriors looked lost when Curry was out and they could use someone to ease the blow if he gets nicked up again. The Warriors can’t afford a repeat of what happened when he missed two games.
The player who could fill the role is Ben Gordon. He carries a $13.2 million player option for next season—an option that is likely to be exercised—just like the options of Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Andris Biedrins ($9 million).
A plausible deal would include sending Jefferson and Biedrins to the Charlotte Bobcats for Gordon and Tyrus Thomas. The Bobcats would win by unloading the final year of Thomas’ contract, saving them over $9 million in 2014-2015.
Gordon would be a lethal scoring punch off the bench and be a great insurance plan in case Curry was to miss any more time this season. Thomas is an intriguing talent. Perhaps by getting him on a winning team with a good locker room (yes, it feels strange to say that about the Warriors, but that’s where things are at now!) he would be able to realize his full potential and justify the Warriors taking on his extra salary.
Thomas can defend the post well and can get up and down the floor. He can also block shots, something that would be welcomed on a team that ranks near the bottom of that category. Remember, this was a guy that was basically traded straight up for LaMarcus Aldridge on draft night, so the talent is there somewhere. Maybe Mark Jackson can be the guy to help him maximize it.
The Bobcats would be making this trade to save over $11 million (assuming all player options are exercised) and for the hope that either Biedrins or Jefferson would forgo their player option next season because they were traded to the worst team in the NBA.
Scoring off the bench, another big man and a perimeter defender are all areas that the Warriors could use help in. While these are just speculative deals, they also fit an area of need for the team. However, it appears like the Warriors are right where they want to be approaching this point of the season. They would be hard-pressed to make any deals with the way they are playing right now and with very few assets to work with.
But it never hurts to look.