With the possible departure of Baron Davis after he exercised his out clause Monday night, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins have become huge priorities for Chris Mullin to keep the nucleus intact.
Still, their signings wouldn’t be an improvement over last year. More playing time for Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli will further the overall experience of the team, but, without a major upgrade to the roster and seven more games from Stephen Jackson, that doesn’t necessarily make the Warriors a playoff team, either.
Forget about Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes and Kelenna Azubuike, who aren’t worth the money they are asking for; the Warriors need an impact player. The addition of projects in this year's draft are a "good two-to-three years down the road"..a broken record of lackluster success in Oakland.
The Warriors can pick up role players like Detroit’s Jarvis Hayes or Boston’s James Posey. But without that impact player, it doesn’t make a difference in the Western Conference.
The $10 million exception that came as part of the Wright deal for Jason Richardson expired today, and Mullin should be ashamed of himself that nothing was done with it. Not that the Warriors should have taken best available rather than what makes the most sense for the team, but Mullin had one year and knew that when the trade occurred there was an expiration date. Mullin has a history of hit-or-miss deals and it's time for him to make himself more notable to the Golden State franchise beyond being a member of run TMC.
That said, the piece that the Warriors have been looking for has just appeared on the free agent market. The Clippers' Elton Brand is only 29 years old and has been a Warriors killer. Mullin would be smart to weaken a division rival and get the impact player they are looking for.
The Clippers likely will be fighting with the Warriors for the final spot in the West, but Brand may enable the Dubs to not only make it, but go deeper by banging with the big boys. The Warriors could also hope that Wright matures quickly and Belinelli becomes a sharp-shooter, but only if they are able to add Brand would it make sense to go after players like Hayes and Posey to enhance the roster.
While Davis has been great and has helped create excitement in the Bay Area, the team will keep running and can find a cheaper point guard who can handle the rock. Brand will help make the Dubs tougher and drastically change the dynamic of the team. Plus the Warriors still have Jackson, one of the captains and just as much the heart as Davis. Not to discredit BD, but Jackson will thrive with any decent point guard and Brand.
The fear right now is that the Warriors may go over the salary cap and owe luxury taxes. As much as I enjoyed shipping Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy to the Indiana Pacers—the Warriors accomplished what they needed to—shipping one of the franchise’s many busts and his sidekick out of town—it’s time to part ways with what they got in return, Al Harrington, if it means staying under the cap. But after 14 years of misery, a lucky one-year Cinderella run, and an unlucky miss, ownership owes the fans, especially considering the crowd support in recent years.
Mullin's success has come when Don Nelson has looked over his shoulder, and getting rid of Dunleavy, Murphy and Adonal Foyle was made possible with his mentor's help. In the last year of the Nelson Era, it’s time to put up or shut up.