The Golden State Warriors look to be playoff-bound again, but the team has hit some rough patches in the past couple of weeks. The team is underperforming, and a player might need to be traded in order to cover up some of the holes.
The team is somewhat limited with its salary cap figure, but there is always room to make smart trades. It is too early to dump potential, even if the player or players are struggling.
The biggest problem is the Warriors don’t have a true definition. They rely on the jump shot too much, and inconsistent efforts across the board are bringing them down.
Some nights the Dubs look fluid by making crisp passes and manning up on defense. Other nights, like the one against Charlotte on February 5, the team looks like it has no identity.
The roster is getting healthier now as Jermaine O’Neal returned quicker than expected to strengthen the frontcourt. Festus Ezeli and Ognjen Kuzmic are also close to returning from injuries.
Andrew Bogut and David Lee have been out recently with minor injuries, but both should return shortly.
What once was a major problem for the Warriors is now an abundance of frontcourt bodies. The Warriors could use that supply to go fishing for some talent at other positions.
But you have to ask, what players would the Warriors be willing to give up in order to make this young and exciting team better? And would it fit the clouded vision?
The first name that comes to the minds of Dubs fans is David Lee. Yes, he is the one everyone wanted to get rid of when he was struggling in November and December of last year.
Then he turned things around and made a significant All-Star push, but he wasn’t rewarded.
Lee’s biggest problem is his contract, which weighs him down. He will be receiving $15 million plus per year for the next two seasons.
Lee has all of the skills except defense, with which he struggles, but he’s making a concerted effort this season. He would fit a team that needs an experienced power forward to build around.
The Warriors would be hard-pressed to find a taker for his services as shown from previous attempts. However, if they could acquire a younger, underdeveloped replacement and an expiring contract to match Lee’s salary, the Dubs could fit the two into their free-flow style of play.
The team needs someone who craves the rim and doesn’t mind getting fouled in the process. Lee has the potential to bring that type of chip, but the cost can’t be too high.
The Philadelphia 76ers have two of their stars available, F Evan Turner and PF Thaddeus Young, at the right price. Lee could be paired with former-Sixer Marreese Speights, Kent Bazemore or Kuzmic to give that team a foundation.
Philly is looking for draft picks and expired contracts, but its demands might be too high and would be willing to rebuild with Lee.
Harrison Barnes remains the biggest question mark on this team. Is he the player who showed limitless potential in the playoffs, or is he the player that underproduces, similar to his stay at the University of North Carolina?
The Dubs’ brass needs to let him know they have 100 percent confidence in his playing abilities or he will continue to wilt and be indecisive on the floor.
His marketability is at an all-time low based on his performance this season. He is not adapting well to his duties as the sixth man.
Barnes' price is cheap, since he is only in the second year of an entry-level contract. The Warriors would have to combine pieces to get a solid return or trade Barnes for another cheap youngster.
With the Cleveland Cavaliers falling apart this season, the Dubs have a willing target to acquire a sixth man. Dion Waiters is comfortable in that role and providing higher offensive production than Barnes.
Waiters vs. Barnes (Through February 7)
Waiters reportedly is not getting along with backcourt partner Kyrie Irving, according to Chris Broussard of ESPN, and the Cavs will definitely want to do everything to keep Irving around after the much-hyped loss of LeBron James a few years ago.
The Warriors were very high on the possibility of drafting Waiters, but he went three spots earlier than Barnes.
If Barnes stays, coach Mark Jackson has to figure out a way and a style that will make Barnes more comfortable on the floor. Confidence is key and if Barnes doesn’t have it, he will not help this squad.
Looking further down the bench at the Warriors roster, Kent Bazemore has been less about celebrations and meaningful play this season. He has struggled in his chances to provide any quality minutes off the bench.
He had high hopes coming into this season after trying to assume the backup point guard position behind Stephen Curry. He was quickly switched to the 2 and hasn’t been given many quality minutes.
He can still play defense, but he needs to continue to improve his offensive game. He is a development project, but he still can provide athleticism and a long wingspan for other teams.
He was sent to Santa Cruz for the first time (via Warriors.com) this season to gain some confidence and get some quality minutes.
Bazemore would possibly be shipped with the remainder of their trade exception to acquire someone making a minimum salary or be packaged with another young player like Kuzmic.
With the potential return of Festus Ezeli in March, the Warriors frontcourt will be very crowded. Bogut, O’Neal and Ezeli are ahead on the depth chart, and it will leave very little time for Kuzmic.
Kuzmic has been hurt for a significant portion of the year, so he hasn’t developed at the pace management would like. He also has only appeared in 14 games so far, averaging a paltry 3.7 minutes, scoring less than a point and having a negative PER.
He still has upside since he is an athletic big man, and he could fit on a young roster somewhere in the league. He would be a throw-in to a bigger package since his salary is so small.
Will They Stay or Will They Go?
The Warriors look to be on the periphery of championship contention. The remainder of the season will be extremely important to fight for no less than a sixth seed.
Will the Warriors make a trade just to create buzz?
The simple answer is no, as general manager Bob Myers has a plan in place. If he determines this young and dynamic squad doesn’t have the horses to make a solid playoff run, he might look to the future and unload Lee or Barnes or both.
Either way, the Warriors have a very solid young roster that is headed in the right direction. We just don't know what pieces will be in place yet.