With the NBA trade deadline approaching quickly on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, the Golden State Warriors are faced with the decision of whether or not they will remain over the luxury tax line for the first time in franchise history.
As reported by Ken Berger of CBS Sports, rival executives of the Warriors expect the team to avoid paying the tax as they only exceed the line by less than $1 million.
Since Kent Bazemore, Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler are all on minimum contracts, trading away two of the three would allow Golden State to move back under the tax line for the 2012-2013 season.
Although owner Joe Lacob has noted that he is willing to pay the luxury tax if his front office believes it will make the Warriors a better basketball team, do not be surprised if the team decides to make a last second transaction to avoid the tax, since they are one of only seven teams that has never gone over the line.
While it is not a guarantee that either Bazemore, Jenkins or Tyler will be moved by Thursday, Bazemore should be valued the most by this organization.
One thing that you will notice right away when watching Golden State play is that the players genuinely like each other and want to win for the team.
Bazemore is a big part of this as he is always the first guy celebrating off the bench and is clearly respected by the veteran players. After Stephen Curry finished his round at last Saturday's three-point shootout, he busted out a hilarious "bazemoring" celebration.
Justin Taylor of sfbay.ca summed it up perfectly:
Kent Bazemore’s ridiculous 12th man enthusiasm has spread through the whole bench. His reaction to damn near every good play is almost as entertaining as the play itself.
You can’t underestimate the value of a bench that is completely enthusiastic and engaged from tip off to the closing buzzer. This undrafted rookie has been the catalyst for this phenomenon and that’s why the team only ships him to Santa Cruz for one night at a time.
Losing a personality like Bazemore would be a huge blow to this team that has been playing for each other the entire season. It is crucial that the NBA's best "cheerleader" stays in a Warriors' uniform, especially if Golden State wants to have a chance at winning a playoff series.
While Bazemore has struggled on the offensive end, he has shown in his brief spurts of extended minutes that he is a capable perimeter defender.
He is the co-leader on the team in steals per 36 minutes at 1.6 and has shown a knack of being active and pesky with his long arms on opposing team's wing players.
As a junior at Old Dominion University, Bazemore was honored with the 2011 Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year award. There is no doubt that Bazemore can continue to develop his game and eventually become a key defensive stopper coming off the bench and a valuable part of the Warriors' rotation.
Charles Jenkins has a great mid-range jumper and could suffice as a decent backup point guard while Jeremy Tyler has shown a lot of athleticism for a big man, but neither of them possess a skill that could be as valuable to the Warriors as Bazemore's defense.
All of the spirit that Bazemore provides from the bench and the energy that he shows on the floor when he does get some minutes is turning him into a fan favorite throughout the Bay Area.
He is a funny, charismatic figure that the Warriors can market for years to come, so they really should not have any interest in trading him for multiple reasons.
Not only will Bazemore pump up his teammates and provide a defensive spark off the bench, but he will also sell a lot more jerseys than a typical 12th man to the Warriors' faithful.
Besides, if Bazemore is gone, who will be there to make fun of Blake Griffin when he air-balls another three-pointer?
Should the Warriors make a move to avoid paying the luxury tax? Please feel free to leave your comments below.