Golden State Warriors' 5 Most Pressing Offseason Agenda Items
Whether by making a blockbuster trade, signing a couple role players or just staying put, the Golden State Warriors’ offseason will determine how successful next season will be.
In head coach Mark Jackson’s first year at the helm, the Warriors went from a lockout-shortened 23-43 to 47-35 and a second-round playoff appearance.
Jackson and Co. hope to build on the surprise success by adding to an already solid roster over the summer.
The ranking system is organized by what will help the Warriors the most, not what the most flashy or glamorous move might be.
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Re-sign Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry
Jack and Landry have expressed interest in returning to the Warriors, just with bigger paychecks. There’s little doubt Landry and Jack would strengthen the bench, but, as we’ll see, other standout subs could come cheaper.
Discuss Limiting Stephen Curry’s Minutes
Curry played 38.1 minutes per game last season, a reasonable amount for a star, and is happy to finally have a healthy off-season.
The Warriors don’t want to inhibit their best player, but his ankles are as tough as wet paper. Mark Jackson needs to stop playing Curry in blowouts, like when he logged 39 minutes in a 105-89 win over the Timberwolves on Apr. 9.
Signing Dwight Howard
Yes, Howard is the best center in the game. Yes, he and Golden State have a mutual interest in each other. But a team developing young stars does not need Howard’s enormous contract and ego hanging over like a dark cloud.
Howard’s most valuable asset is his rebounding, which incumbent Andrew Bogut does fine, and the Warriors have a potential monster on the glass lying in wait. He may be out right now, but the team needs to…
5. ...Be Patient with Festus Ezeli
Uncle Festus got the bulk of his playing time early on when Andrew Bogut was recovering from microfracture ankle surgery, and the rugged rookie made the most of his opportunity.
Now the tables have been turned. Ezeli underwent right knee surgery on June 13 and will not return until January at the earliest.
The 30th pick in the 2012 draft knows that his NBA future is not guaranteed, so he plays physical defense and crashes the boards relentlessly.
Ezeli still needs to develop his offensive game, but he averaged 4.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game in just 14.4 minutes per game. If the Warriors continue to work with Ezeli, the Nigerian could develop into a Kenneth Faried-type player.
Ezeli will need a defensive-minded mentor on the coaching staff to stick up for him. That's why the Warriors need to…
4. ...Replace Mike Malone
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After the Sacramento Kings were sold to Vivek Ranadive, the organization went into complete overhaul. Sacramento’s first move was to hire defensive-minded Mike Malone, Golden State’s No. 1 assistant coach.
Malone was instrumental in Mark Jackson's coaching scheme during the Warriors’ surprise playoff run last year, putting together offensive game plans and defensive strategies.
Before Malone and Jackson came in, the Warriors scored 97.8 points per game and gave up 101.2. With Malone as Jackson’s right-hand man, those numbers improved to 101.2 and 100.3.
Jackson plans on promoting Pete Myers to the lead job, while Darren Erman would fill Myers’ shoes. To retain the team’s defensive success, though, he needs to find another Malone.
Lead assistant is the only spot that needs filling. GM Bob Myers is a sharp judge of talent, and could even…
3. ...Trade Harrison Barnes and David Lee for Kevin Love and Alexey Shved
This is a tough trade to make, especially after Barnes capped his rookie year by averaging 16.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in the playoffs. So let me explain:
The deal depends on the health of two players: Love and Brandon Rush. Love missed most of last year with injuries, but put up 26.0 points and 13.3 rebounds per game the previous season.
Love’s style of play would fit perfectly with the Warriors. He’s much more valuable than Lee, and comes at a discount, as Justin Taylor of Trapped In Golden State wrote:
“They will be making damn near the same amount of money in the 2015-16 season when Lee is 33 and Love is just hitting his prime at 28.”
Shved would be very serviceable behind Stephen Curry, especially under a $3.15 million contract. Jarrett Jack is likely to leave in free agency, and Shved would be a good replacement while keeping the Warriors under the luxury tax.
If Rush can return to hitting threes, driving to the basket and playing exceptional defense after tearing his ACL early last year, trading Barnes and Lee is worth the risk.
Now, if Rush is given a starting role, the Warriors will need to…
2. ...Find a Bench Scorer
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Last year the Warriors had two reserves that could light up the scoreboard. Now that free agency has stolen Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, the bench needs an impact player or two.
The Dubs technically have positional replacements for Landry and Jack, but Draymond Green and recent draft pick Nemanja Nedovic are not as skilled as their predecessors.
Unrestricted free agents J.J. Hickson or Emeka Okafor could help replace Landry’s scoring and rebounding. Hickson had a career year for Portland, averaging 12.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game, while Okafor may come cheaper after a down season with the Wizards.
If the Warriors don’t land Shved and want a distributor at point, D.J. Augustin or Beno Udrih could replace Jack. For more scoring, Bob Myers might grab Randy Foye or bring Nate Robinson back to Oakland.
While holes remain, the most important pieces are already in place. The Warriors just need to…
1. ...Hold onto the Starting Guards
Golden State has one of the top backcourts in an increasingly guard-friendly league. To stay competitive over the next few years, they need to retain Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
In Curry, the Warriors have the best shooter in the NBA who also dishes out 6.9 assists per game. Thompson is nearly as smooth, and will continue to improve in his third season.
Curry is already locked down for the next four years, and there is no chance he’ll be traded. Next summer, the team will likely exercise a $3.08 million dollar option on Thompson.
If Thompson is then signed to an extension, it will kick in following the 2014-15 season, a year after Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins’ wasteful contracts have expired.
Reserving money for Thompson is another reason the Warriors don’t need someone like Dwight Howard. As Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury said, laying low over the off-season is the Warriors’ best move.
More than acquiring Love and Shved, finding a new assistant or getting a backup scorer, the highest priority is not messing with the Splash Brothers. Just surround Curry and Thompson with talent, and the Warriors will return to the playoffs.