According to former NBA TV analyst Peter Vecsey, the Grizzlies offered Gay to the Warriors in exchange for Harrison Barnes, Jarrett Jack and either Andris Biedrins or Richard Jefferson, who both hold hefty contracts themselves.
Gay’s contract is large, as well, which was why many teams were hesitant to take on a player of his production and skill set with a hit to the bank account of that magnitude.
The Warriors, however, did not seem to be giving up much in return for a small forward that seemed to be the final piece to Golden State’s playoff puzzle. Barnes is growing as an NBA player, but there has been nothing overly special about him in his rookie season with the team.
In the same way, Jack’s presence in the locker room and in the final moments of games makes him a valuable player for the Warriors, but this is Stephen Curry’s team in the present and future.
The Warriors turning down the trade for Gay only further shows what the franchise thinks of the future of Barnes and the current leadership of Jack.
Barnes has the ability and potential to become a player of Gay’s caliber down the road, and the Warriors would like to find out what he can bring to the future of Warriors basketball with Curry and Klay Thompson already a part of the team for years to come.
Jack, on the other hand, may have been the most dispensable of the group in the proposed trade. His contract with the Warriors is up after this season, making him a free agent. However, he has been Golden State’s go-to player late in the fourth quarter, as well as a real influence in the locker room to young players like Barnes, Curry and Thompson.
Not pulling the trigger on the trade shows that owner Joe Lacob and GM Bob Myers think Jack is a significant piece to the Warriors this season and a player Golden State may not be able to contend without.
It also shows where the team’s mindset is at the moment. The Warriors currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference, and continue to overachieve this season. But not parting with Barnes, and most importantly Jack, is significant in that the time is evidently now for the Warriors.
Losing Jack would have lost the veteran presence on the team and a player who wants the ball in his hands in the final moments of the game.
The playoffs are the time when a player like Jack is needed most. The Warriors believe that they could not make a significant run in the Western Conference without him on the floor in the final moments, in the locker room prior to the game, in practice and in the huddle during games.
How serious the Warriors are about contending in the NBA will certainly become apparent in the coming weeks as the playoff race heats up, but the Warriors’ cautiousness to trading for Gay may have created a better opportunity for the team to make a run toward the end of the regular season and on into the playoffs.
They did not land that scorer to round out their starting lineup, but they did not alter the atmosphere in the locker room, and that may be most important to this team in the long run.
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