As a Golden State Warriors fan, I had zero hopes going into this offseason.
I would have been happy had we not traded Stephen Curry or sent Monta Ellis away for a bag of peanuts.
Most of us were probably more interested in waiting for the day when Chris Cohan finally sold the team and our new owner started to clean house.
Well, after his work this offseason, GM Larry Riley has shown that maybe he deserves another chance.
I've always felt that Riley gets a bit of a bum rap from Warrior Nation—mostly because he's so closely tied to Don Nelson and the rest of our front office.
However, let's look at the moves he's made since he took the big chair.
Trading Jamal Crawford, Stephen Jackson, and Corey Maggette
I put these three together because the situation for all of them is pretty much identical. You got three guys on terrible contracts who were moved purely for that reason.
Sure, we didn't get much back for any of them, although I suspect Gadzuric may have a role this season until Ekpe Udoh is fit.
Unfortunately, when you're trading players on bloated contracts, you have only two options:
1) Take back another player of equal talent on a bad contract
2) Accept a significant drop off in talent and take expiring or cheap deals.
Riley did the latter for all three, and, with the team shortly for sale, it's hard to argue that he made the wrong choice. While I would have liked to see him try and get picks (if nothing else), but anyone can be an armchair GM and say what they would have done.
Drafting Stephen Curry
If I need to explain why this was a good move to you, you either don't watch enough basketball or you're a moron.
Curry may just go down as our best draft pick since Chris Webber.
Let's not forget that it looked like we would take Jordan Hill for a while last year.
He also gets bonus points for not trading him to Phoenix for Amar'e. We probably wouldn't have kept him for more than a year anyway and we'd've lost out on a future franchise point guard.
Not trading Monta Ellis
There were two deals I remember that were being floated around for Monta at the time. One was to the Celtics for Ray Allen's expiring contract, and the other was to the Grizzlies for OJ Mayo and Hasheem Thabeet.
Neither of them would have been of any real benefit to the Warriors.
The Ray Allen deal would have been a straight salary dump. Monta's on a fairly large contract, sure, but when you consider what he can do when he's used right (i.e. NOT as point guard), it seems much more reasonable. Therefore, salary dumping him wouldn't have made much sense at all.
As for the OJ Mayo/Hasheem Thabeet trade, this one wouldn't have made sense either. OJ Mayo and Monta play the same position, but Monta is a better player than Mayo in almost all regards other than shooting.
Defensively they're equally bad help defenders, but Monta's much better at playing the passing lanes and harassing bigger two guards.
As for Thabeet, well, nothing much needs to be said about him really. He's a joke.
I wouldn't have minded Riley hitting the phones to see if he could get a better offer for Monta (i.e. a Monta plus filler for Andre Iguodala deal) but at least he didn't pull the trigger on either of these offers.
Drafting Ekpe Udoh
OK, I won't lie—I hated this pick at the time.
However, based on the moves that have gone down since then (the David Lee trade), I like it much more.
Udoh may never be much on offense, but he gives us a solid defensive big man who's equally solid defending in the post and the perimeter. If he can provide cover for Lee/Beans at four and five once he returns and guard the Stoudemire types (which neither of them are able to do) I'll like it even more.
I still think we should have taken Aminu or Monroe, but I'm slowly beginning to come around to the Ekpe Udoh Era.
Trading for David Lee
This article should explain how I feel about this deal. If you don't want to read it, to put it simply, I love this trade.
Lee gives us the perfect partner to Stephen Curry, and at 27 is just entering his prime as an NBA forward. Randolph was a low-IQ headcase who will probably not make it.
Some of you may disagree with that assessment, but let's see how the season goes.
While I do believe we overpaid a little for Lee, the fact is that the only way we could get a player of his quality with our current dysfunction was to pay over. So I'm okay with that. His deal is nowhere near as bad as Maggette's was anyway.
Signing Dorell Wright
This is the most recent move Riley has made —signing Heat swingman Dorell Wright to a three year, $11 million deal.
While this probably means we're letting Black Boi Pachino walk (which makes me very sad), Wright isn't a bad player at all.
He's not the shooter Morrow was (who is?) but he's a great athlete, can score, finish around the rim, and plays good defense. At 6'9", he's also appropriately sized for the SF position. He struggled in the slow half court sets of Miami—the Warriors offense is ideal for a guy with his skill set.
Considering some of the deals that have been thrown at average players this season ($35 million over five years for Travis Outlaw, $32 million over five years for Drew Gooden) his salary is also very solid.
Plus, Wright also brings championship pedigree (he was a member of the Heat team that won in '06) and has spent most of his career learning at the knee of D-Wade—not a bad role model for a young swingman.
I like this deal. Better than going after some washed up fool like Josh Howard, for sure. Plus, it opens up any number of Wright Brothers jokes.
Before anyone wants to start criticising me and calling me Bob Fitzgerald's buddy, let's take a look at our potential lineup for next year.
SF: D Wright
Bench: Reggie Williams, Brandan Wright, Charlie Bell, Ekpe Udoh, and Gadzuric. Monta is set to spell Curry at PG unless we can resign CJ.
That's a 40-plus win team if everyone stays fit.
Considering that the West will be weaker this year than in some years past—the Suns and Jazz in particular will be significantly weaker than this past season—we could even be knocking on the playoff door.
I haven't felt this good about a Warriors team since 2007.
Whether we like to admit it or not, this team is largely the work of Larry Riley.
While I wouldn't lose any sleep if our new ownership gave him a bus ticket—especially if we could get someone like Kevin Pritchard in his place—he has shown that he can be a competent GM.