From a financial standpoint, they have a ton of room to manuver. As a result of the Ike Diogu ($2.1m) and Jason Richardson ($10m) trades, Chris Mullin has a $12.1 million trade exemption to play with during the upcoming season.
The Warriors' backcourt is in great shape. When healthy and motivated, Baron Davis is a top-three point guard in the league. According to several sources, he's healthy and motivated.
Monta Ellis—a small but explosive penetrator, and the NBA's reigning Most Improved Player—will likely get first crack at the two slot. But if his playoff struggles carry over to the regular season—or rumored off-court "annoyances" become more than just "annoyances"—Don Nelson won't hesitate to throw a lot of his minutes to rookie Italian sharp shooter Marco Belinelli.
Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson can also slide from small forward to the shooting guard position in bigger lineups. Kelenna Azubuike is another talented young scorer who can fill in the blanks.
In fact, the Warriors have so much depth at the guard slots that Sarunas Jasikevicius, a proven point guard and deadly long-distance shooter, won't get a whiff of playing time. All told, the Warriors won't miss Richardson as much as many people suspect.
The Warriors' frontcourt, unfortunately, isn't equally well-entrenched: Andris Biedrins, Al Harrington, and then who?
The Warriors were blown out of the playoffs by a bigger, stronger Utah Jazz team. They went into the offseason needing rebounding 4 who could play a lick of defense.
And then there was Kevin Garnett....we hoped.
Instead of moving up to draft Joakim Noah—who would've satisfied the Warriors' need for a defensive-minded, court-running, rebounding machine—Mullin opted for talented project Brandan Wright...seemingly to use him as the centerpiece of a deal to acquire Garnett.
Now that Kevin McHale has thrown a bone to his former team, though, the Warriors are stuck with Wright...and still need to figure out who's going to be collecting the rebounds in '07-'08.
Enter the Cleveland Cavaliers—champions of the East and distinguished owners of the worst point guards in the entire league.
Danny Ferry has tried and failed to acquire Mike Bibby and probably several other overpaid has-beens. He's currently in his office staring Eric Snow in the face...again. Or he can pin his hopes on Daniel "Booby" Gibson, which I'm sure Rick Barnes wouldn't recommend.
So what to do? Aside from their failure to find a point guard who could score 15 points in a high school game, the Cavs are also in legitimate salary cap trouble—special thanks to Larry Hughes. Worse, Hughes' injuries mean Mike Brown has zero athletic players over 6'3" who can run the court with Lebron James.
Cleveland's salary cap issues have handicapped Ferry (to be fair he handicapped himself) in his attempts to re-sign backup power forward / Brazilian hair-monger / flopper extraordinaire Anderson Varejao.
So let's make a deal.
The Warriors can't rebound the basketball. The Cavs can't run a half-court offense. The Warriors have almost unlimited flexibility with their salary cap. The Cavs need to clear cash.
Here's the plan: The Cavs do a sign-and-trade with Varejao for three years at $21 million. The Warriors do a sign and trade with Michael Pietrus for 2 years at $7 million. The Warriors also throw in Jasikevicius and pay three-fourths of his salary (he has one year left at $4 million), and package Patrick O'Bryant—a talented but much maligned big man who has no room for growth in Nelson's run and gun system.
The Warriors get a legitimate hustle-drive backup power forward in Varejao who can play crunch time minutes against quality opponents. He'll fit nicely into a rotation with Biedrins and Harrington—and will allow Wright to develop at a normal pace.
With Varejao on board, the Warriors become a legitimate contender in the West. They can matchup with any team—including the Jazz and Spurs.
The Cavs, meanwhile, get their hands on a satisfactory point guard in Jasikevicius, for practically nothing. He'll be able to help Brown's dismal half-court offense operate more efficiently with crisp passing and his ability to space the floor as a constant shooting threat.
But I think Pietrus is the interesting play here for the Cavs. He's a highly athletic lock-down defender who's also an above-average shooter. For a team built on defense that badly needs more athleticism, he's a perfect fit.
Dare I say Pietrus would be everything Hughes was supposed to be?
The loss of Varejao hurts—we all know he's one of Lebron's favorites—but Cleveland has bigger fish to fry and can't afford to pay real dollars to a backup forward. They also pick up O'Bryant, who's built for a half-court offense and might rediscover his comfort zone back home in the Midwest (he attended Bradley).
As much as many of us may want Zydrunas Ilgauskas to play forever, it might be time to have someone waiting in the wings when he hangs it up.
This is an example of a deal that's in the best interest of both teams. Let's see if the respective GM's have the brains to pull it off.