Well, here we are in mid-July, and many people are depressed about recent happenings with the Golden State Warriors.
Let's just have a quick review:
The Warriors lost Baron Davis, the team's star point guard, because the front office were unwilling to commit so much money for such a long time. Just the fact that the Clippers took him should tell us we probably made the right choice. You just can't give up that kind of money for personality. You must have consistent production.
The Warriors also lost out on the Brand sweepstakes. Remembering what Alton Lister looked like after his Achilles injury, maybe it wasn't such a bad thing for a team whose identity is to run—and maybe run even more in the future.
They did, however, get Corey Maggette for five years and $50 million.
True, this might be a lot of money to spend on such a player. However, he scores, creates his own shot—important, when you don't have a first-rate point guard—and gets to the line frequently.
In addition to Maggette, the Warriors also landed burly Ronny Turiaf.
While many of you would have liked to have kept Baron, all you Mullin haters have to remember that most often you have to pay a lot and get lucky to make good players come to (or stay on) bad teams, and that overpaying for an injury-prone star would have probably doomed us to more years of mediocrity.
Turiaf may leave us numb and indifferent, but he does fill a need and will probably create the court dynamics needed for Andres Biedrins to be even a better player.
Someone who can play defense at the four- and five-spots while rebounding will definitely allow Biedrins to foul more freely, knowing someone will be there to rebound with him off the court. That's something he couldn't permit himself to do last year as the sole consistent rebounder on a poor rebounding team.
I only have one question: Can he run?
At least on paper, Maggette was the best signing available. He replaces the points and gets fouled consistently. For five and fifty, he looks like the safest bet of the bunch.
In addition, he will also be a good fit in the fast-paced system. In the worst case, he should be usable as a trade bait to a contender if he's a bust with the Warriors.
Does anyone really think Davis or Brand's legs would have been there on a running team for 82 games a year for five years? Or that they wouldn't be seriously injured at some point?
Now, if I understand this right, we have $10 million coming off next year for the contract of Al Harrington and another $10 million for *cough* Adonal Foyle. With this money, we should be able to sign someone young that can, according to Mullin, become a "difference maker."
The real question is: What do we do with the pieces we have?
First, move Harrington in the beginning of the season back to the small forward position. This move will hopefully increase his trade value. If the Warriors' front office decide to trade, they should trade him to the Knicks along with Belinelli for a point guard and some Fritos.
Belinelli should go, because with his lack of defensive skills, he should never be paired with Ellis. He is not a real option at shooting guard in the future. It would lead to lay-up drills by opposing teams.
Mullin seems to like doing business with Donnie Walsh, so that should be achievable.
Until then, we'll have Corey and Al. That should mean fresh legs and better than average production at the three-spot.
With the power forward position more open for Turiaf, the W's can find out if Brandon Wright is a player. Don't wait until year three of Wright's contract.
Monta Ellis—point guard?
Now, what do we do with the winged angel named Monta Ellis. I love his game, but I don't see him starting at the one-spot and us ever winning a championship—let alone getting to the playoffs.
So many times last year, he lead the break with his speed. As a point guard, this part of his game will have to be at a minimum curtailed, as he will have to hang back to bring up the ball. That kind of defeats the purpose of his speed, doesn't it?
Firstly, however, let's see if he can run the point productively and prove everybody other than Don Nelson wrong. In Nelly's system, all the point really means is bringing the ball up the court and then getting someone with handles to initiate the offense.
However, if he can't, then consider highlighting him at the two-spot and trading him while his value is high. We are already starting to hear rumors about Memphis and New York being cities "of interest" for him, and losing yet another star for nothing would be devasting.
Or, see if Anthony Randolph can run (or co-run) the point. If he can initiate the offense, he could use his size, handles, and athleticism to create havoc on both sides of the floor, and make up for Ellis' defensive liabilities. This is a reach, but for us to contest one day, we have to find a "special" player.
Think Magic, Pippen, or Livingston and the match-up nightmare that Ellis and AR would create for opposing teams. For this to work, Randolph needs to have a decent assist-to-turnover ratio—something he couldn't do at LSU.
If Randolph can't, then get him back to the three, and trade Harrington and Ellis for talent and future picks. Ellis at the shooting guard position without a defensive-minded, good point guard is not a plan for long-term success, but the lottery.
2008-09 Season Warriors' Focus
This upcoming season, the Warriors should focus on three aspects: Player development to be kept or traded, fiscal responsibility for 2010 free agent signings (or trading before), and figuring who stays and who plays where.
The team wasn't going anywhere with Baron (still, thanks for the memories), and was one injury to Captain Jack or Baron from the crapper. We have a future, but need just a little patience and vision.
If you can't buy good players (or have them given to you) like the Lakers or Celtics, then you need to learn to develop and trade for them.
This means that the Warriors need to play young talent, so that they could start thinking a little even more outside of the box.