Al Harrington

The Warriors won’t make a big trade anytime soon, because they can’t

Pretty nice win over the Knicks last night, huh? Three wins in four games, a big “eff you” to Al Harrington and confirmation that the Warriors aren’t the worst defensive team in the NBA (just at rebounding).

Since Monta Ellis returned to the Warriors on Jan. 23 against Cleveland, the Golden State Warriors are 5-5. Not amazing, but after a 13-30 start it’s clear even a rusty Monta brings the Warriors to at least quasi-respectability.

All that is great news for the Fighting Rowells, since anyone dreaming of landing Amar’e Stoudemire or Chris Bosh should step away from the ESPN Trade Machine after hearing this little tidbit from CBS Sports: Portland has offered a package of LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless and Raef LaFrentz’s $12.7 million expiring contract to the Suns for Stoudemire.

Portland has the inside track over most teams (especially the Warriors) because of what the Suns are looking for: cheap young talent and expiring contracts. In other words, any way a desperate Robert Sarver can get under the Luxury Tax threshold next season. Aldridge and Bayless are slated to make less than $7 million combined each of the next two seasons, while LaFrentz’s expiring deal has been infamously coveted by NBA GM’s across the land since last season ended.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are supposedly offering Andris Biedrins and Tony Randolph for Stoudemire. Problem is, because of Biedrins’ base year status they would have to add in other pieces to make the deal work (like a combination of either Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford or Corey Maggette and C.J. Watson). And that would only work if the Warriors also took back somebody like Robin Lopez in the deal.

Andris isn’t as good as Aldridge (sorry, it’s true) and costs twice as much, Randolph comes with character questions and lacks the Arizona ties of Bayless (don’t discount the chance of Phoenix pacifying surly Suns fans by acquiring a former Wildcat), and none of that matters anyway since the Warriors can’t provide Phoenix with a deal that actually saves the Suns any money.

In fact, the more one looks at the salaries involved it’s obvious the Warriors have no shot at doing anything before February 19 besides providing material for local writers during the slowest sports month of the year. They have no expiring deals, no longer hold a $10 million trade exception and all their young talent is either highly paid (Monta/Andris) or unproven.

Don’t even think about Chris Bosh. The Raptors are trying to get pry Stoudemire away from the Suns to pair with Bosh in an attempt to tempt Bosh to stay past 2010. It won’t work, and Toronto will probably have to deal Bosh in the offseason, but Bosh is clearly a more valuable player than Stoudemire at this point.

Simply put, the Warriors are stuck. They have four players with five or more years left on their contracts and no expiring deals of any significance until Jamal Crawford comes off the books three years from now. Any trade that would net the Warriors a star would involve trading either Monta or Andris, the two players who were supposed to be the team’s core.

Again, Warriors fans have no option but to be patient. Hope Jackson can keep going for 30 points and 10 assists. Remain optimistic that Monta’s steal, coast-to-coast drive and reverse lay-up last night were a sign of newfound health rather than nonexistent Knicks defense (if I were shameless I’d call for New York’s coach to be renamed Mike ‘Antoni, but I have my pride). Pray that Don Nelson can somehow build Randolph into the next Chris Bosh before he gets traded for 10 cents on the dollar.

After all, the Warriors were able to pull off the Baron Davis trade because New Orleans wanted Dale Davis’ expiring contract, not Speedy Claxton. When your salary cap situation is as inflexible as Golden State’s, quasi-respectability is about as good as one can hope for.

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