Watching the Lakers dismantle Utah last night in the same fashion the Jazz nearly always impose their will on the Golden State Warriors, this much was clear: the Warriors are eons away from contending for the Western Conference title.
Well no duh, you say (I’m paraphrasing). The Warriors were the 4th-worst team in the NBA record-wise, and in terms of general dysfunction and hope for the future, perhaps even worse than that. It’s never a good sign when a team without cap space clings to the hope that a new owner will come in and save the day. It’s like expecting Barack Obama to come in and end every war we’re involved in before his first 100 days were up. Sure, it would be nice, but who actually thinks it’s going to happen?
But that headline in the Salt Lake City Tribune saying “All hope is lost” for the Jazz? Sure, it probably pissed off Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams, but it’s even more depressing for Warriors fans who’d give their favorite “The City” jersey to be in the same predicament the Jazz were in this week.
I’m not sure Warriors fans know exactly how bad of a spot they’re in, especially if the sale of the team drags on well into the season. First, if your psyche can handle it, check out this excellent breakdown by Adam Lauridsen of the Warriors salary cap situation for next season. The Cliffs Notes version: the Warriors are going to be over the cap no matter what they do, meaning they can only sign free agents to the Mid-Level Exception (and only a really desperate vet would consider signing one of those deals to play for the Warriors).
Since the team’s in a holding pattern, and there will probably be some kind of work stoppage after next season, don’t expect any radical trades either (and if this past season was any clue, expect a lot more D-League signings and a roster that includes one or two less players than the NBA allows. God, Cohan’s a cheap SOB). None of the big free agents are going to agree to a sign-and-trade if the Warriors are the team they’d end up on, and as long as Cohan’s around they won’t trade Monta Ellis or Andris Biedrins for an expiring deal like Eddy Curry’s (which would just make the team worse, anyway).
No, the Warriors’ only hope is to land one of the top two spots in the Draft and hope John Wall or Evan Turner becomes a superstar. Positions are irrelevant right now. The Warriors aren’t going to find a franchise center, and since Don Nelson’s the coach it’s probably better that they don’t anyway, since Nellie would make it his mission to destroy the kid’s desire to play basketball simply to spite him for being seven-feet-tall.
And even if they win the Lottery, with Cohan around they’ll probably screw it up anyway.
What’s depressing about watching playoff basketball for Warriors fans is that the best case scenario for these guys is they get Wall and he’s as good as Deron Williams. Or they get Turner and he’s as good as Carmelo Anthony. Both Williams and Anthony are in their primes right now and have better supporting casts than the Warriors could ever really hope to provide next season (even if all goes well, like Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright and Kelenna Azubuike come back healthy and Andris somehow remembers how to play again), and the Jazz just got swept by the Lakers after easily disposing of the Nuggets.
So it’s even worse: the Warriors need to get into the top two of the Lottery, they need to pull off a wacky trade that somehow works brilliantly (preferably involving Ellis, who spends more time heaving backwards trick shots from the courtside seats and laughing at his failed shots at the buzzer than doing anything remotely resembling what a team leader should — like playing defense, listening during the game and timeouts, not taking off weeks at a time due to illness, etc.), as well as find a new owner, GM, coach and trainer.
Or, you could just be satisfied with the same players, coach and trainer because the Warriors have a new logo (if that actually is the real logo). If you aren’t the boycottin’ type, this might be the only way to keep your sanity over the next few years.