On Feb. 2, the Golden State Warriors' trade deadline strategy appeared to be simple: sit back.
The team had won seven of nine, including four straight to move to a season-best 13 games over .500 with a record of 30-17. They were finally healthy, with center Andrew Bogut back on the court. Four Warriors were heading to Houston for All-Star Weekend: David Lee to the All-Star Game, Stephen Curry to the Three-Point Shootout and Harrison Barnes to the Rising Stars Challenge along with Klay Thompson.
The only Warriors starter not invited to All-Star Weekend was Andrew Bogut, who many would argue is the team's best player.
Beyond that, the Dubs' bench featured two of the NBA's frontrunners for Sixth Man of the Year in Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, the high-intensity, heady Draymond Green, great center depth with Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins, and All-NBA benchwarmer Kent Bazemore.
The need to add to the team appeared nonexistent.
Then, on Feb. 5, the Warriors began a four-game road trip in Houston. Maybe the four All-Star Weekend participants were preparing for each of their respective events, but that still doesn't explain why every player in a Warriors uniform decided not to guard James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons or any player in a Rockets uniform.
That game ended 140-109, and Houston had tied the NBA record for threes in a game, draining 23 shots from deep. This game appeared to be an anomaly, but instead was the beginning of a disturbing trend. The Warriors lost each of their next four games, giving up point totals of 119, 99, 116 and 116.
Suddenly, the best season of Bay Area basketball in over 20 years has taken a turn, and the Warriors now find themselves in a position less similar to that of the 1991-92 squad that won 55 games and more similar to that of the 2007-08 team that won 48 games but missed the playoffs.
That isn't to say that, at 30-22, the Warriors are likely to miss the postseason. The team still has a five-game lead over ninth-place Portland, and the only team threatening Golden State with an easier schedule from here on out is Houston.
However, the Warriors can no longer afford the luxury of letting the trade deadline breeze by without seriously considering their options.
A look at the Warriors' season stats will tell you that the team has virtually no weaknesses—they out-rebound opponents, out-shoot opponents and out-defend opponents. However, a look at the past two weeks tells a different story.
Ever since the return of Andrew Bogut, the Warriors' rebounding has dramatically suffered. This is perplexing, as Bogut and David Lee should be one of the league's better rebounding tandems. Carl Landry and Festus Ezeli should provide more than adequate rebounding help off the bench, as should Draymond Green.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case. Landry has looked as undersized as he actually is, Ezeli's minutes have disappeared and Bogut has not been able to play enough minutes with enough energy to make up for this. In addition, Warriors wings such as Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes have stopped crashing the boards, and the results are disastrous.
Still, the personnel to be a good-to-great rebounding team is there. What may not be there is perimeter defense, another element of Golden State's game that has fallen off somewhat suddenly.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson spent much of the first half of 2012-13 as the NBA's most underrated defensive backcourt. All of a sudden, both players—particularly Curry—have reverted back to their matador-like ways defensively, routinely getting beat off the dribble and making little to no effort to recover or contest shots.
Perhaps the return of Bogut has made the Warriors' guards lazier. If this is the case, the last five games should be a resounding wake-up call. If the backcourt tandem doesn't display a return to quality defensive habits during the first two games of the second half, the Warriors may need to think about making a move.
Even if it's not the No. 1 area of concern, an attempt to add size to the roster may be the smartest move for Golden State GM Bob Myers. This is because size is plentiful on this year's market, and big names such as Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and Pau Gasol could lower the price on smaller names such as Timofey Mozgov, Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.
Perimeter defenders are less numerous on the trade market, and the one's that are potentially available may cost more to acquire. Still, the need is moderate to large, and it wouldn't hurt for the Warriors to at least consider ways of pursuing. J.J. Reddick would cost far too much, but Iman Shumpert and Evan Turner are possibly attainable.
Who Should Golden State Pursue?
First, let's deduce. Stephen Curry and David Lee are franchise players, Andrew Bogut is too important to this season and Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson too important for the future. None will be considered as trade chips.
Second, a combination of Stephen Curry's weak ankle and the Warriors' lack of another bench player who can run the offense will keep Jarrett Jack in town.
After that, it gets interesting. Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli are good young players and high-character guys, but their production has been inconsistent and their necessity has become less important as the Warriors have gotten healthy. While they carry long term value, they should be considered movable were the right offer to come along.
Carl Landry should also be considered a movable player at this point. He is having a great season in a contract year, but the return of Bogut has cut into his minutes and his effectiveness has suffered. With the season he's having, he's unlikely to accept his player option this summer and may cost too much to keep in Oakland.
Kent Bazemore, Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler are all seemingly valueless benchwarmers, but they're also young with varying levels of upside. All three are ultra-tradable. Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson are not only movable, but should be forced upon any team that will accept them.
As far as returns go, the Warriors should only consider moving Landry if it'll net them Shumpert or Turner. If the Warriors were to pursue Mozgov, Ezeli should be readily offered up. Green is right in between the two, as he could work either packaged with Landry in a deal or as an alternative to Ezeli.
Any combination of Bazemore, Jenkins, Tyler, Jefferson and Biedrins should be considered fair game as throw-ins, although a team pursuing a straight-up trade for Bazemore isn't completely out of the question.