Less than 24 hours after the Golden State Warriors' most popular player, Baron Davis, bolted Oakland for his hometown, the Warriors have offered Clippers' free agent PF Elton Brand a maximum contract.
This news comes a day after the Warriors also reportedly offered a max contract to Wizards' free agent G Gilbert Arenas.
It is unlikely that the Warriors land either player, as both are rumored to be more interested in returning to their old teams, but, if this were not the case, which player would make more sense for Golden State?
Both are All-Stars, both are coming off of seasons that were severely shortened by injuries.
Arenas, drafted by the Warriors, has gone on to become one of the top ten guards in the NBA without question. In the 2006-'07 season, the year preceding his knee injury, he averaged 28.4 points per game, along with six assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.
He led the Wizards to the playoffs for two consecutive seasons before 2008, where they lost to LeBron James and the Cavs each time.
Brand, on the other hand, is a banger down low. Although he's an undersized power forward at 6'8", his numbers certainly are not affected by it. During his best season, the 2005-'06 season in which he led the Clippers to the brink of the Western Conference Finals, he averaged 24.7 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.
If I were the Warriors, and I had my choice between Brand and Arenas, I would take Gilbert.
For one thing, Arenas fits more into what Don Nelson likes to run on the floor. For that philosophy to work, Nelson needs a point guard that can create his own shot and score and shoot the three at a decent clip. Also, to distribute the ball and run the floor effectively.
Obviously coming off major knee surgery, there are questions as to how Arenas will be able to hold up for an entire season.
Some of this hinges upon what the Warriors do with some of the other free agents they have, including G Monta Ellis, C Andris Biedrins, F Mickael Pietrus, G Kelenna Azubuike, and F Matt Barnes.
If the Warriors were able to land Arenas, look for them to actively pursue re-signing Biedrins. Just 22-years-old, he has become an elite rebounder in the league as well as a presence defensively down low that the Warriors could not afford to lose.
Another factor in the Arenas-over-Brand decision would be to simply look at what the Warriors already have on the roster.
Last year, they acquired the rights to rookie PF Brandan Wright in exchange for Jason Richardson. Wright had very limited minutes during his rookie season, but the Warriors liked what they saw from him.
Just last week, with the 14th overall pick, the Warriors drafted F Anthony Randolph out of LSU. Randolph is expected to be a project, and likely won't get much playing time for the Warriors next season if they are even remotely competitive.
If the Warriors were to lose both Baron Davis and Monta Ellis, there would be a very large hole in the backcourt, one that Arenas would capably step in to help fill.
There are many decisions for Chris Mullin, Don Nelson, and company to make this offseason. With the Western Conference loaded the way it is, and teams like the Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers seemingly on the rise, the Warriors may be hard-pressed to compete in 2008-'09, regardless of how they address free agency.
This is not a knock on Brand, as he is probably a top five power forward in the league when healthy, but Arenas would just be the better fit for Golden State.
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