Trading Monta Ellis for Chris Kaman, who’s very much available these days, does not sound sexy. Young, fast and explosive, versus not as young, not at all explosive and fairly injury prone. Oh, and don’t forget Kaman’s rather … odd-looking. At least Kaman finally cut his hair about five years too late, which makes his ginger beard his most noteworthy feature. As opposed to this.
Kaman’s also very tall, and has a $14 million contract that expires at the end of the season. The New Orleans Hornets could have some suitors for the 29-year-old center, who put up big numbers in February with Emeka Okafor injured (16.8 ppg and 9.8 rpg, albeit on 39.1 FG% along with 3.2 turnovers per contest). However, teams like Boston, Miami and San Antonio would have a hard time parting with a player as talented as Ellis, although Houston might be able to swing something.
Cap space is alright, but the Warriors have a hard time luring free agents even when they have piles of money to offer. So why do this deal? Here are a couple reasons, the second much more important than the first.
1. The addition of Kaman would make the Warriors a more balanced team in the short-term, and would allow them to stop playing Andris Biedrins for the first 5 minutes of each half.
Regarding the lineup, Mark Jackson could make Klay Thompson the starter alongside Stephen Curry. If Jackson’s worried about the offense, how about getting crazy: Curry/Thompson/McGuire/Lee/Kaman, a group where scoring wouldn’t be a problem and McGuire could be the designated rebounder/defender guy. Then the bench becomes Nate/Rush/Wright/Udoh/Tyler. Just kidding, you know Tyler would stay in the D-League and they’d keep force-feeding us Biedrins. Who knows, maybe a little Dubstitute therapy would do Biedrins some good.
Crap, now I’m coddling him!
On Thursday afternoon, Jackson told Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert that he likes how Biedrins “sets the tone.” Some tone. Kaman isn’t Dwight Howard, but at least he’s harder to convert a 3-point-play against because he’s bigger than Biedrins and doesn’t spend his minutes wishing he was on the bench, cheering for the game not to go into overtime.
2. The Hornets have two first round picks.
That’s not a typo. Despite what certain franchises who play at the Coliseum BART stop will tell you, most teams have at least one first round draft choice, and some even stockpile those suckers! The Warriors don’t have one first round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and even if they stand pat they’re almost surely going to win too many games to retain their own top-7 protected pick. No shortage of putrid teams in the NBA these days, and New Orleans is one of them.
The Hornets have their own pick (and the 3rd-worst record in the league behind the Bobcats and Wizards, currently). They also have the more favorable of the Clippers’ or Timberwolves’ first round selection, which they picked up in the Chris Paul trade (whic,h as of now, would be Minnesota’s No. 13 pick).
Either one of those picks would be nice, and absolutely a requirement if the Warriors were to deal their leading scorer. If the NBA says both first rounders are off the table, so too should be Ellis. However, if the ownership committee (Stern) thinks Ellis would be a nice addition, with two shooting guards (Eric Gordon and Marco Belinelli) hitting free agency after the season and Ellis moving (sort of) near where he grew up, that mid-first round choice could come in quite handy in what’s widely thought of as a deep draft, either as a future player or a piece the Warriors could use in a trade.
If the Warriors want to go crazy and move up potentially to the top spot (it’s ping pong ball-dependent, as you well know), it would probably take Ellis and Thompson, or Ellis and Udoh. With Anthony Davis (the unibrowed Kentucky Wildcat, not the 49ers’ North Shore wave-catching offensive tackle), Andrew Drummond, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson available, the NBA may say “no” to any such deal anyway … even though Chris Broussard said, “New Orleans has no use for him and simply wants to get something — even if it’s just a second-round draft pick — for him, according to sources.”
The league may say “no” to every offer Golden State comes up with, and the Warriors’ preference could be to sit on their hands, waiting for Howard to fall into their laps. But the Warriors need to spend every minute before the trade deadline figuring out not what they can do to make the playoffs, but what they can do to get into this Draft.
We already know patience is required with this team, and the longer they go until their next impact draft pick, the longer Warriors fans are going to have to stay patient with the same starting lineup they used in 2010. While it’s never a good idea to make a move simply for the sake of looking active, committing to one of their two smallish guards, freeing up salary cap space and gaining a draft pick would make this trade deadline a successful one.