Based on the tweet below from Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople), the Golden State Warriors have an opportunity to move from the wanna-be tier to the championship-level tier with just one move. The suggested trade would send Celtics legend Paul Pierce to the Warriors for Harrison Barnes and some change (probably Richard Jefferson).
Would Warriors and Celtics do Harrison Barnes plus contract dump for Paul Pierce?— Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople) January 29, 2013
This trade would dramatically change the Warriors because they would have one of the better, if not the best, starting five lineups in all of the NBA. With the depth already on the team, there would be no real weaknesses.
The bigger question that Warriors management has to weigh is trading away youth for a proven star with maybe two to three years left. Pierce is the star of the Celtics, the team captain and the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer. His current contract runs out after next season.
Harrison Barnes is a young, dynamic player that is still developing. He has already had a few earth-shattering slam dunks, but he has not surpassed rookies Damian Lillard or Anthony Davis in the impact made as a rookie.
Barnes’ line this season is 9.2 PPG, 1.5 APG and 4.3 RPG. He is a tireless worker, but how high is his ceiling? You have to factor into the equation that other members of the perimeter, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are more prolific and should be fed the ball more.
Harrison Barnes is more athletic, but he has gotten mixed reviews so far this season. He has been better than expected on the defensive side, but he has underperformed with his shooting touch by averaging 44.5 percent for the season. His hot shooting in February (75 percent) has helped raise his overall percentage.
The Warriors would get cap room relief by parting ways with one of their heavy contracts in Richard Jefferson. Jefferson produces when called on, and we can all remember his turn-back-the-clock dunk that he laid down against the Dallas Mavericks.
Two of their key bench players could become free agents after this season. Jarrett Jack will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and Carl Landry has a player-option. With the level both of these bench guys are playing at, can the Warriors risk not making a championship run this season?
Jack has definitely earned a raise for his play this season, and Carl Landry could easily go elsewhere to raise his $4 million salary that he has an option for next season. This might be the only time the Warriors have those two bench stalwarts on this team.
So I have laid all the cards out on the table. Now the real decision for the Warriors is: Do they take this chance and go all out for a championship this season, or do they continue to build their brand to become a perennial playoff (and eventually a title) contender?
The Warriors could take the safe route and continue to make subtle and slow progress after going from a snail’s pace to lightning speed this season. They could also jump in the fray and welcome themselves to the ways of the elite teams.
Paul Pierce is a playmaker with a lot of playoff experience. He won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics during the 2007-08 season and even earned the NBA Finals MVP in their matchup versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yes, Pierce has slowed down a little bit on the court, as his field-goal and three-point percentages have marginally decreased along with his point-per-game average. However, those averages are still strong.
Additionally, he can still score, as evidenced by the highlights below.
Pierce put up 40 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers that evening. He might not be the most graceful player on the court, but he definitely knows his surroundings and can always bust out his step-back fade.
Pierce can also rebound the ball; he is the fourth-best rebounding small forward, with an average of 6.1 RPG. He is also second in assists per game, with four.
Some Warriors fans will argue that they would be giving up too much to acquire someone that is not in his prime. However, the window is small with the current roster. Yes, Curry, Thompson and Lee will be around for a while, but trying to make a championship run would give the Warriors the instant brand credibility.
It would turn the Warriors into a legitimate free-agent destination. With the proposed new arena being built in San Francisco, the Warriors would be competing with Los Angeles as the new West Coast place-to-be.
By adding Pierce to the cohesive Warriors squad, he would give them an immediate boost. He could also co-exist with current team leader Stephen Curry. Pierce wouldn’t have to do as much as he has to do with his injured Celtics squad.
Pierce has been a Celtic for his entire career, but there are reports out of Boston.com that Pierce is the biggest chip in play for the Celtics, who are looking for some young talent in order to build around Rajon Rondo.
Harrison Barnes and his potential would be a loss, but Paul Pierce could bring the necessary playoff experience to take the Warriors to the next level.