Warriors fans don't have many reminders of the 2007 playoff team left on the current roster. Baron Davis is toiling away in LA with the Clippers. Matt Barnes is a Laker. Stephen Jackson ticked off management (the same management that handed him a three-year contract worth $28 million) and got himself traded to Charlotte. Jason Richardson played playoff basketball with the Suns last season, while the guy the Warriors traded Richardson for (Brandan Wright) didn't play AT ALL last year.
All the Warriors really have left is Biedrins and Monta Ellis, and judging from how those two have acted the past couple of years, it wouldn't be surprising to see Larry Riley jettison them before the start of the 2010-2011 season.
First off, I know about Ellis. I know that he doesn't think he can coexist with Stephen Curry. I know that he probably is overpaid, and probably can't carry a team (which is why we have Curry...but I don't want to get sidetracked).
But the Biedrins stuff is new. I saw this posted on Warriors World and Golden State of Mind, yesterday. Basically, Biedrins was asked in an interview about last year, and well...he wasn't exactly a "Positive Patty" by the end of it, especially when it came to the team dynamic last season. Here's what he said about his relationship with his teammates:
"I can tell you right now, about our team, most of my teammates are egoists. But what can you do? It’s important to have good veterans as the rookies and young guys will take after them. Right now, I would say i don’t have a good relationship rather a neutral or friendly one with everyone on the team. I don’t have any problems with any player and I don’t think anyone has a problem with me. Of course, we aren’t real big buddies, but our relationship is on a professional level and we can work successfully.”
You have to keep two things in mind:
A.) This was translated in English from Latvian (GSOM has the actual video posted), so there could be something lost in the translation.
B.) This team dynamic was awful last year. Jackson threw a grenade into the team's chemistry before the season started and injuries derailed this squad to D-League call-ups by the end of the year. You can understand why Biedrins would be frustrated. He's with all these guys he knows won't be back the following season, everybody is hurt, the team is losing, and some guys were preparing to become restricted free agents (e.g. Anthony Morrow and C.J. Watson), so with no playoff shot in mind by January, everybody started to play with their futures in mind. You can't blame Biedrins being angry and not "lauding" his teammates here. Nobody would on a team that finished 26-56. If you're a competitor, you're going to be frustrated that people aren't healthy/playing better.
Also in the interview, Biedrins was asked about the idea of being traded. Here's what he said:
“It’s very rare, that a player stays with one team. It’s very rare and every player travels during his career. It’s part of the business. It doesn’t really matter how good or bad you have played during the season. They actually wanted to trade me after the last season. Not this one, but the last, which was the best of my career, but it didn’t go through. So, I guess, if they trade me, there could be some nice changes involved, maybe I’ll be on a better team, with better teamwork. When the rumors came out last year about me going to Phoenix, I would’ve loved to play with Steve Nash. Also, the Phoenix team, the city, it was all fun to think about. With a point guard like that, the game is different.”
I can understand Biedrins' apprehension. Professional sports have gotten to the point where everyone is looking out for themselves, so you have to understand that Biedrins wants to put himself in a position where he can A.) win and B.) get paid as much as possible. That seems to be what he's saying. And it's not like the franchise has stayed completely loyal to him, either (as evidenced by him saying they wanted to ship him in 2008-2009).
So, Andris just wants to be in the best position to win, and right now, he doesn't feel that is with the Warriors. Is he somewhat accurate? Sort of. The Warriors will most likely be battling just to escape the cellar of the Western Conference with the T'Wolves and Kings. It's a reality.
David Lee is a nice addition, and Curry is definitely the future, but other than Ellis, who else is going to step up? Winning teams don't ask those questions, and Biedrins wants to be on a winning team. Any player would be saying the same thing, especially when they're not looked at as a cornerstone for the future (Curry, Lee and Ellis take precedent over him).
Thus, is Biedrins due for a wave of criticism and will be seeing the boot from the Bay Area like his former comrade Jack? I don't know. Here are two reasons why I would like to see Biedrins to stick around for a little longer with the Warriors:
1.) I believe he is healthy and can get back to the 11.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 5.4 WS (win-shares) player of 2008-2009. Furthermore, Biedrins in limited time last year showed improvement defensively, as his block percentage sat at 4.1 percent, the highest percentage he's had since 2006-2007 (when it was 4.3). It's totally plausible Biedrins can have a bounce back year if fully healthy (but of course, that's an if).
2.) The Warriors are extremely thin on the front line. Basically, after the Lee trade, in addition to Lee and Biedrins, they have Ekpe Udoh, Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric as backup in the post. With Biedrins gone, the Warriors are taking a big risk, especially with Udoh and Wright. But there's a problem: Udoh is a rookie (and big men have not had good track records their rookie years under Nellie) and Wright is coming off a FULL missed season. The Warriors need Biedrins unless they want to start "Tankapalooza 2011" by October 27th.
I can see why some Warriors fans might be fumed and be premature in their decision to jettison Biedrins. It was obvious last year in retrospect that Jackson killed the team morale, and I'm sure Riley and Nellie and new owners Lacob and Gruber want to avoid that from happening a second-straight year. However, when you weigh the positives against the negatives, the Warriors need to stick with Biedrins and try to get him properly motivated to BE IN the Bay Area in 2010.
For the Warriors to have a chance to be at least SOMEWHAT successful this upcoming season, Biedrins has to be part of the puzzle.