Even before the Warriors got thumped in Utah tonight, it was clear the team needs to do something unless they wanted their season to end at least one playoff series sooner than last year.
So thoughts turn to the trade exception.
A tricky little loophole to be sure, this $9,999,999 exception the Warriors earned for giving Jason Richardson to the Bobcats, apparently for the right to rest Brandan Wright. The exception pretty much means the Warriors can take up to that much money back in a trade even though they are over the NBA’s salary cap.
It’s actually a lot more complicated, but this is the Bay Area Sports Guy, not the Bay Area Law Guy. Just researching what the Warriors’ exception means makes me agree even more with what Bruce Jenkins wrote on Saturday, that the current trade rules in the NBA keep the average fan not only in the dark, but wearing a blindfold. The key is, in three days (the NBA trade deadline) we’ll see if the Warriors not only can get another team to trade them a useful player, but if they’re willing to get into the luxury tax to do it.
One school of thought, the one most often being taught publicly by the Warriors front office, is the team needs to make sure not to take on contracts that go on past 2008 in order to re-sign Baron Davis, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. Oh yeah, and Kelenna Azuiboooookie.
However, there are two forces at work that lead one to believe that not only must the Warriors make a trade now.
1. MP just threw down the gauntlet
Mickael Pietrus has officially gotten pissy. He wants to waive his Bird rights, he has publicly asked for a trade in a seven minute chat with reporters that I only wish I could have witnessed where he said some version of “I’m gone” 20 times.
It’s probably as much how the crowd has reacted to Pietrus as anything else. He looked like he was having a great time in the playoffs last year, and it’s tough to believe that such an important piece from last year would be so horrible this season. The fans have been hard on Pietrus (for Warriors fans, anyway) and Pietrus is sensitive. The fact that he doesn’t seem to have learned anything about NBA basketball in four years is a bad sign, too. Hopefully that’s something that at least one other NBA general manager hasn’t noticed, because MP has officially reached “addition by subraction” status.
2. Baron’s career year
What kind of teams make trades to improve during a season, regardless of the sport? Teams that think they have a chance. There’s no coincidence that more NBA teams are making trades that matter this year; they know that while the Western Conference is obviously deeper, no team can truly be called elite, at least yet, anyway.
Sure, Baron’s on a contract year, but that’s when you get a title out of players. Monta and Biedrins are young, but Baron won’t have a better season in his career. Since Baron is obviously the Warriors’ best player, doesn’t it make sense to go for a title when he is at his best? Waiting until Ellis and Biedrins are making eight figures per year doesn’t seem like the best way to win a title, especially when Baron would either be midway through a long and lucrative contract or with another team.
Ron Artest: The most obvious, due to his St. John’s ties with Chris Mullin, his ability to not only defend but run, and the fact that a locker room including Stack, Artest, Baron and C-Webb screams for a BET reality show like HBO’s “Inside Knocks.” Uncensored, preferably.
Chris Wilcox: Could conceivably be traded straight-up for the $10 million exception, if the Sonics were willing. Big, fast, strong, but one worry about this guy: Don Nelson has never done well with big and strong, only fast and smart. Wilcox is fast.
Mike Miller: The Grizzlies are in full fire-sale mode, but I just don’t see the Grizzlies giving up either Miller or another fantasy-Warrior, Hakim Warrick, to Golden State. But if Miller did get to bring his three-point shooting and matador defense to The Oracle, there would be plenty of free Chalupas. You know, for high scoring games. Wait, do they even do that promotion anymore? Why am I explaining my jokes like I’m Jay Leno?
Drew Gooden: Oh God, no. He would be a much better Sacramento King anyway, wouldn’t he? He is a very pretty man.
Let’s face it, the Warriors are going to win or lose with small-ball. As Rick Pitino might say, “Tyson Chandler isn’t walking through that door! Marcus Camby isn’t walking through that door!” The Warriors are going to battle with Mystic Biedrins as their big banger inside, and that’s the way it has to be. Therefore, Artest needs to be a Warrior.