It's that time of year again!
We're nearing the NBA draft (next week), and the subsequent off-season insanity of free agent signings and potential trades that can make or break your season.
You saw what it did for the Boston Celtics this year. From zero to hero in slightly over 100 games.
Earlier, I wrote about the fact that the Warriors need to do something big to make any real push into contention. Below, I'll throw out some crazy ideas that might just make some sense to help them get there.
1. Shawn Marion for Baron Davis
One thing that I mentioned in one of my previous articles was that the Warriors need an athletic, defensive small-forward. Stephen Jackson has been fantastic (one of his best years, last season), but he is getting slowed by foot problems. It may be time to consider options, especially if there are upgrades available.
One such example comes from Tim Kawakami (of the San Jose Mercury News), who threw out an idea to trade Baron Davis for Shawn Marion straight-up.
Their respective salaries match up, and this does make sense from Miami's side. If they add Beasley as their new PF this year.
I'd hate to give up Baron personally, though Marion is an intriguing addition to a team that truly lacks defense. He hustles a ton for rebounds and fills up the stat sheet with even blocked shots. That could potentially cover a lot of the holes that Golden State has today.
Ellis and a draft pick for Marion might be an option as well. However, it seems even less likely, given that Miami would have to start two combo guards (no point-guard); and Ellis loses the "hometown connection."
2. Draft Brandon Rush
Another more reasonable alternative to getting Marion might include drafting Brandon Rush at #14. Rush is 6'7" and has a good wing-span. He has the size and speed to come in and provide defense in even his first season (while learning to use his other tools).
While he isn't Marion, he could learn under Stephen Jackson's tutelage and become a replacement for Pietrus, who is likely leaving. Jackson and maybe Biedrins have been the only ones leading the tough-minded defense (though we've had steals and filled up passing lanes with others).
The steals and rotations still need to improve, but alongside that, brute force intimidators in the mold of Battier, Bowen and Raja Bell would be of great help. Jackson still has that mentality, and maybe he can pass it on to a younger protege.
There are other big men and options in the draft. But at #14, Rush is realistically still on the board, and he is a proven winner, as a National Champion at Kansas.
3. Trade Al Harrington for Jose Calderon OR TJ Ford with Joey Graham
The Raptors lost Jorge Garbajosa. The Warriors need a point-guard (at least a back-up) and Toronto has two (one of which has to leave Toronto, certainly this year). Calderon seems unlikely to be traded, given his excellent 2007-2008 season (high assist-to-turnover ratio), but TJ Ford definitely appears available.
To make the salaries match up, the Warriors could also take Joey Graham, who hasn't been amazing in Toronto. But, he could be a solid back-up small forward to replace Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus, should they both leave.
The Warriors have to have loved Harrington's enthusiasm and his (sometimes) timely three-point shooting. However, ultimately, he has lacked consistency -- and both of these Toronto point-guard options offer just that: each is a more consistent option, either scoring or passing.
In addition, the back-up point-guard spot has been an open position at Golden State for a while. And, this serves as insurance, in case Baron Davis does decide to leave Oak-town behind.
4. Monta Ellis to Memphis?
Mullin has repeatedly said he will keep Monta (a smart move). However, if Memphis really tries to blow the Warriors out of their water to obtain their (near) hometown product, perhaps they'd be willing to give up: Mike Miller, Javaris Crittenton and their #5 pick (Kevin Love)?
Memphis would get a star in the making, and the Warriors fans would definitely weep about that. But Golden State would get a needed shooter to break-up the zone (Miller), a back-up PG with size in Crittenton, and a solid power forward in Love.
A lot of people have said Love isn't great. And yet, at the same time, one can tell he is respected as he hasn't been projected to fall past Memphis (#5 pick) at this point.
At the same time, he is an excellent outlet passer to initiate the fast break; he can shoot the ball and pass well out of double teams; and, he is known to have a high basketball IQ (something Pietrus lacked).
Lastly, he comes from a storied program at UCLA, where both defense and success have been illustrated (even if they haven't won a championship since 1995, they made it to the Final Four twice in the past two years).
5. Get another rebounder
Whether or not the Warriors can obtain a Marion, they still need someone dedicated to playing defense and rebounding. Their very own Dennis Rodman, Anderson Varejao, Joakim Noah, or Paul Millsap.
If Miami is still hot on Pietrus (it was a topic of discussion during the 2007-2008 season, at one point), it might still be worthwhile to trade him for Udonis Haslem.
Every team could use someone who fights to go to the boards, and who isn't necessarily looking for his own shot all of the time.
6. Use that Trade Exception
The Warriors have nearly $10 million with the trade exception received in the Jason Richardson trade.
If they were able to move some pieces around, per above, this might be the time to go all-in and use it for someone big.
Mullin himself has said that he would pull the trigger and go over the cap (which would surely happen using this exception), if and only if it meant getting a quality player in return that could put the Warriors over the top.
Would it be possible to stretch the exception with someone in the $5 million dollar range to get a solid star Power Forward? Packaging someone like Pietrus (via sign-and-trade) and Brandan Wright (gasp!) for an Elton Brand or a Josh Smith (restricted) would accelerate their chances big-time.
In some cases, Biedrins might be a swap-out for Brandan Wright. Not that they'd want to lose either-- but this simply serves as another option, if they have an opportunity to get an impact big man.
Clearly, either scenario is fairly unlikely, but the hope of "cap relief", a decent (albeit much maligned as "inconsistent") player in Pietrus and a hopeful, future star-- all for an existing one, might be worth consideration.
Today, assuming the Warriors try to stay pat and re-sign Monta and Andris, they have a starting five of:
- Andris Biedrins
- Brandan Wright
- Stephen Jackson
- Monta Ellis
- Baron Davis
And a bench consisting of: Al Harrington, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Perovic, whoever the 14th pick is, and maybe (potential re-signees) Kelenna Azubuike and CJ Watson.
That is a good team that made a decent run, but still fell short of the playoffs. In order to achieve higher against even more insanely difficult competition next year (Lakers getting Bynum back, Portland getting Oden back, etc.), Golden State will need to shake things up.
If they were to shake things up from above, they could have:
- Andris Biedrins
- Elton Brand (or Josh Smith)
- Shawn Marion
- Mike Miller
- Jose Calderon (or TJ Ford)
And a bench consisting of: Stephen Jackson, Udonis Haslem, Joey Graham, Marco Belinelli, Kevin Love, Brandon Rush, Javaris Crittenton, Kosta Perovic
This seems like an odd set, but immediately, fans are presented with a much more balanced team that has passers, shooters, rebounders, defenders, and post presence. In addition, you get a combination of veteran leadership and youth, which is needed to make the big push-- all while still having a "future" core to build with in Love, Rush, Belinelli and Crittenton.
This is probably blasphemy for the crowd that saw "We Believe" and the Dallas series upset. I witnessed it and was in awe too. But let's not hold on to that for too long, if things aren't working.
I don't know that people will be happy seeing a break-up of the Warriors own so-called "big three" (Jackson, Davis and Ellis), but if it has to happen due to circumstances or in order to make a serious run in the playoffs, this may be one outline that could work.
The Warriors have a lot of pieces that are still valued by other teams around the league. Unfortunately, most of these scenarios would have to involve their highest-valued, core players.
Golden State also has options available in terms of drafting or trading first and second round picks, either from this year or in upcoming years, as leverage.
Whatever happens this off-season, the Warriors have their work cut out for them.
Even if it's standing pat and working harder to prove me wrong-- that they can make it, as-is.
As a fan, I'll be there watching and cheering. Go to it!