The Warriors are four games out of the playoffs with three teams ahead of them. Usually, this would be enough to have us thinking about the lottery, but the teams in front of the Warriors are showing glaring weaknesses.
Portland sitting in fifth relies solely on the brilliant play of LaMarcus Aldridge. Can he keep it up? Can he stay healthy? He falls and so do they.
New Orleans currently sits in sixth, but is falling fast. Chris Paul's knee is far from healthy and they are not a playoff team without Emeka Okafor, who is currently hurt and if he does not come back or gets hurt again, they will continue to fall.
Denver just traded an All-Star and a good point guard for less established players. They were seventh with them, but they could likely be out of it without them.
Utah is in free fall at eighth with an angry Deron Williams, an interim coach, a hole at shooting guard, the enigma that is Kirilenko at small forward and Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson providing an undersized frontcourt with no defense.
Memphis, a team that has been playing well, just lost one of its best players (Rudy Gay) to a shoulder injury that could take him out for a month or possibly the rest of the season. OJ Mayo and Tony Allen went from fighting to manning the wings. The future looks questionable.
Phoenix is the only team that looks ready to make a run given that Steve Nash has finally begun to gel with new teammates and time does not affect the ageless wonder.
With only Phoenix in a position to improve on its current record, it is important for Warrior fans to remember that the We Believe Team had a 26-29 record at the All-Star break. It can be done again. But first let's dispel some myths.
Myth No. 1: It is not a big deal if the Warriors don't make the playoffs, we will have a better draft pick.
New Jersey has our first-round pick if it is lower than No. 7 because of the craptastic Marcus Williams trade. At this point, there is less than a 10 percent chance that we get that pick and most of that chance is if the Warriors lose most of the rest of their games. If we keep up our pace we have to win a top three spot. Not likely. So the worse we do, the only team that benefits is New Jersey.
Myth No. 2: If we don't make a deal we can get a great player with all of our cap space.
Truth: We have precious little cap space. Given the labor squabbles the cap is unlikely to increase. So even with $17 million in expirings, our cap space is likely to do little more than re-sign Reggie Williams and maybe a Lou Amundson-like player. Tim Kawakami talks about our plight in the Mercury News. We almost assuredly will not have the first-round pick, so it is not as bad as he says, but we are not getting anyone great with our cap space.
So, with no help on the horizon, we must use our expiring assets to improve. Here are some ideas.
Golden State Gives: Dan Gadzuric, Vladamir Radmonovic, Brandan Wright and Charlie Bell.
Charlotte Gives: Gerald Wallace, DeSagna Diop and Matt Carroll.
Charlotte is looking to rebuild and Gerald Wallace is on the block. Charlotte is looking for a young big to pair with Tyrus Thomas. Brandan Wright could be that big. This trade also clears all kinds of cap space for the Bobcats to be a player in free agency. Given that they are looking to move Gerald Wallace, this could be enticing.
The Warriors get the best player in the deal at a slightly less than great contract, but it makes the Warriors considerably deeper and should improve our defense and rebounding. We can use Gerald Wallace to go small when Andris Biedrins is in foul trouble or when Curry or Monta are out we can go big with Dorell Wright and Gerald Wallace as the wings. We take on some bad contracts, but I think Gerald Wallace is worth it. Even if it doesn't work out, how valuable will Wallace be as an expiring contract?
76ers Give: Andres Nocioni and Marreese Speights
Warriors Give: Vlad Radmonivic and Lou Amundson.
Marreese Speights is an extremely talented, young center that cannot seem to get out of Doug Collins' doghouse. Andres Nocioni has a big contract that still has another year on it. By swallowing it, the Warriors may get an opportunity to get a valuable piece.
The 76ers are making a strong playoff run in the East. If Speights is of no use, they might appreciate extra cap flexibility. The veteran knowledge of Vlad and the hustle and great contract of Lou Amundson.
Washington Gives: Kirk Hinrich, Josh Howard and Andray Blatche
Warriors Give: Vlad Rad, Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright
Washington is all about the future with its uber-talented, young rookie John Wall. This trade allows the Wizards to banish the head case Andray Blatche and free up space with the departure of Hinrich. In addition, they get a promising big in Brandan Wright, who we should really play, but Keith Smart hates him for some reason.
The Warriors get a very competent PG/SG in Hinrich who adds great defense in addition to veteran leadership. He is pricey, but the playoffs are worth it. The Warriors also roll the dice with the very talented Andray Blatche. Finally, we get the ailing, but, in the future, incredibly helpful Josh Howard. Back when he was with the Mavericks, he was a top perimeter defender who could hold his own on offense. Having him on the team gives us an opportunity to re-sign him and make our team a perennial playoff team.
Warriors Get: TJ Ford
Pacers Get: Brandan Wright and Charlie Bell
Warriors get a far better backup point while getting to rid themselves of Charlie Bell's contract.
Pacers get a talented young PF who might be the solution to their hole at the 4.
Warriors Get: DeMarcus Cousins and Francisco Garcia
Kings Get: Ekpe Udoh and Dan Gadzuric
The Kings get a talented young defender with room to grow in Udoh. Not as talented as Cousins, but a significantly smaller headache. They also get to rid themselves of Francisco Garcia's odious contract.
The Warriors get one of the most talented young bigs in the game, who may be a head case, but is worth it for the talent he brings. This one is not likely, but if it happened all Warrior fans would feel like we won the title.