It’s not that the Warriors haven’t been able to find talented players. Hell, one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference is determined to surround their franchise center with as many ex-Warriors as humanly possible (don’t be surprised to see C.J. Watson to finally get his chance to join this squad within the next few weeks). It’s that the Warriors’ approach to player acquisitions is completely backwards.
The Warriors like to get a player, boost their value (internally and to the local media) to the point where they become “untouchable” (meaning they will not be traded under any circumstances unless the other team’s offering a top-5 player in return). Then when the player inevitably disappoints — because while the Warriors have had plenty of talented players, they haven’t had a true superstar since Rick Barry — the Warriors wait until that player’s value dips to its lowest before moving the player for pennies on the dollar.
Buy high, sell low. It’s been their philosophy for years, from the J.B. Carroll trade to the first Chris Webber fiasco, and the tradition has been upheld in fine fashion the last few years as Jason Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Stephen Jackson and now Corey Maggette have been turned into Brandan Wright, Speedy Claxton, Vladamir Radmanovic, Raja Bell, Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric (and don’t forget multiple trade exceptions that have gone or will go unused).
It’s enough to make anybody hit the snooze bar, waiting until Larry Ellison or some other billionaire we assume has a clue comes in and saves the day. Not that this won’t happen, but until it does the Warriors can still do some tinkering. Up until now, it’s not like the Warriors have put a moratorium on player moves. They dumped their second round pick for a little extra pocket change for Cohan. They chose Ekpe Udoh in the first round. They traded Maggette. They made a qualifying offer to Anthony Morrow and neglected to do so for Chris Hunter and Anthony Tolliver. They changed logos, colors and unis. They aren’t totally dormant, and clearly want to put together some semblance of an NBA franchise together that will sell tickets in case Cohan doesn’t get the offer he’s looking for.
With all that in mind, here’s what the Warriors can/should do while they wait in limbo to build the best team possible without adding extra payroll obligations:
1. Sign Anthony Morrow. The rest of the league is worrying about what will come out of the LeBron/Wade/Bosh lovefest (which will actually end up leading to nothing, since none of them would dare take less than market value with the NBA on the brink of a labor stoppage). Nobody’s going to offer Morrow big money, and with the right coach Morrow could be an above-average bench guy for the next decade. Best not to let him go do that in Houston, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, Boston or some other city with a GM who knows what he’s doing.
2. Stop signing D-Leaguers. Please. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Everyone in the NBDL is flawed, and because they have no choice but to hustle for their livelihoods coaches like Nellie will lean on these guys to keep games close and send a message to the established players on the team. It’s not cute anymore. Unless the team bus drives into a ditch and 10 players die in the resulting fire, stop it.
3. Don’t spend the midlevel on just one player. If the Warriors sign a guy for the same amount the Lakers and Celtics paid Ron Artest and Rasheed Wallace last off-season, you know they just overpaid. Nobody that good or well-known will sign with the Warriors this summer. But with so many high-profile free agents out there and an uncertain labor atmosphere, there are going to be several bargains if the Warriors are willing to wait. Instead of using this year as another round of D-League tryouts, why not fill the roster with the kinds of solid vets that the team needs anyway that could come at great bargains?
4. Don’t trade Andris Biedrins or Brandan Wright. I’ve been firmly in the “get rid of Biedrins” camp for the last two years, but now it’s too late. Unless Biedrins was filmed taking part in a Grey Goose-fueled orgy with Andrei Kirilenko and Mikhail Prokhorov, there’s no way his value could be lower than it is now (actually, his value might become higher if that happened, at least in Eastern Europe). The worst thing that could happen here is if the Warriors don’t sell until later than they planned, Don Nelson harasses Biedrins in the media for the first two months of the season and Riley decides to trade him for another retread combo guard and another awkward center. Wright has been forgotten by 99.8% of those who watch NBA basketball. Time to see if he can do anything for Golden State, because even if he can’t, his trade value doesn’t diminish.
5. Do trade Monta Ellis … and maybe even Anthony Randolph. There’s no way the Warriors will trade Stephen Curry, nor should they. The only two players on the team whose value hasn’t sunk over the past year to a great degree are Ellis and Randolph. Now, while I’ve been preaching that the Warriors should trade Monta for quite a while, I love Randolph. But it’s crossroads time. Randolph’s not just disgruntled at this point, it’s a guarantee that he certainly hates playing for Golden State, and if the sale gets delayed and Nellie sticks around, things will get ugly. And to get another team to accept Monta’s contract in a deal (Memphis?), you’re going to need to sweeten the pot. If the Warriors are going to blow this team up and start over again with Curry as the main centerpiece, you might as well get rid of Monta and Randolph now before they start REALLY pouting, right?