For many NBA teams, draft day inspires hope. GMs wake up on draft day believing they’ll acquire the player destined to rescue their franchise from the swamp that is the NBA lottery.
Players of destiny in the NBA are usually fresh-faced kids, still too young to buy their first beer. In a few rare cases, a fortunate lottery team is offered an established star in exchange for their draft pick, allowing them to immediately speed up their rebuilding efforts.
Such an offer was presented to the Warriors last Thursday, and as you’d expect, they screwed it up.
The Phoenix Suns offered All-Star power forward Amar'e Stoudemire to Golden State in exchange for Andris Biedrins, several role players, and the Warriors’ first-round draft pick, used to select Davidson guard Stephen Curry.
The Warriors refused.
For Golden State’s fans, who pray to the smallball gods each year for an impact seven-footer, it was a punch to the gut. At long last, the Smurfs had finally found their answer for Gargamel, only to decide they’d rather go on being terrorized every week.
The reason for turning down the deal? The Warriors didn’t want to part with Curry, a small guard who may one day allow Golden State to field an entire starting five under 6'4".
For now, Curry is faced with a cruel introduction to the pros thanks to coach Don Nelson, a man who hates all things rookie. Nellie is talking Curry up right now, comparing him to Steve Nash and predicting grand things for the youngster.
That’ll last through the Summer League, where Curry will excel, right up until the regular season. Then Curry will play 20 minutes total in the Warriors’ first 25 games, as Nelson explains that Curry just isn’t ready, that he has a lot of work to do before he can play point guard.
Nelson will continuously moan about Curry’s development before finally giving him extended playing time once the season is lost.
Curry will look great in garbage time, Nelson will get credit for developing him, Curry will tease Warriors fans into thinking the team is building something for the future, and the entire process will start over again with next year’s lottery pick.
Rather than carry on this soul-draining tradition another year, the Warriors have the opportunity to trade for a player who can halt the team’s endless player development cycle.
Stoudemire would give the Warriors a fighting chance against the Duncans, Gasols, and Garnetts of the league. There are few players in the NBA who have that ability, and when you have the chance to acquire one, you bring him in first and figure everything else out later.
So why is Phoenix looking to get rid of him? If you’ll allow a bad pun, the Suns have set. They won 46 games last year but missed the playoffs, and they’re looking to start fresh rather than face a slow decline.
Stoudemire considers himself an elite player and wants to be paid accordingly, but thanks to his injury history and questionable attitude, the Suns don’t want to pay him big money while they reload their team.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because the Warriors faced an identical decision with Baron Davis a year ago.
Injuries and attitude aside, Stoudemire is still one of the most valuable big men in the league. He’s averaged at least 20 points and eight rebounds in every full season he's played since his rookie year, including the three seasons he’s played since undergoing microfracture knee surgery.
It’s not as though Stoudemire has worn out his welcome with a patient, stable franchise either. In the last four years, Phoenix has gone from being a running team to a halfcourt team back to a running team, but not before dumping the NBA’s best up-tempo coach (Mike D’Antoni) and two All-Star players who excelled in his system (Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion).
Unbelievably, the Suns are also willing to part with Stoudemire, and Phoenix is beginning to look like the old widow selling her husband’s vintage car for $500 at an estate sale.
If the Warriors don’t want to grab Amar'e for less than he’s worth, some other team will.
It would be a shame if the Warriors passed on him, because no team is better suited for Stoudemire than Golden State. The Warriors would still be a gimmick team with Stoudemire, but at least they’d be more Andre the Giant than Kimbo Slice.
Thanks to his ability to run the floor and finish the break, adding Stoudemire to Monta Ellis, Anthony Randolph, and Stephen Jackson would allow the Warriors to go from playing fast to playing at ludicrous speed, which would keep the coach, players, and fans happy.
Amar'e Stoudemire is the kind of player the Warriors have always coveted, yet thought to be unattainable. Now that such a player has been offered to them almost exclusively, they can’t afford to come up empty.
Stoudemire isn’t perfect, but he is perfect for Golden State. After all, headaches caused by your All-Star power forward are much easier to deal with than the ones caused by trying to crack the 30-win plateau.
The Oakland Sports Examiner, new columns every Tuesday and Thursday: http://www.examiner.com/x-12984-Oakland-Sports-Examiner