The trading deadline has passed, and the Warriors will spend the rest of the season seeing how good Stephen Curry is, how well he and Monta Ellis can play together, and how Raja Bell fits into the blend. Warriorsworld.net’s senior editor Rasheed Malek along with contributing writers Sherwood Strauss and Rick Blaine answer a few questions that Warriors fans might be asking regarding the first half of the season, last week’s trade activity, and the rest of this season. Feel free to chime in with your own answers in the forum.
Andy Griffith—Rick Blaine
Season Ticket Holders
Enablers (if they renew) —Blaine
Future All Star (on another team, of course) —Blaine
Can Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry co-exist?
Sheed: No, Monta had it right from the beginning. A backcourt of Ellis/Curry isn’t going to get you many wins. One of them gets moved this summer, most likely Ellis.
Strauss: No, the dye was cast with the three million dollar fine. Even with an undercurrent of good chemistry it’d be difficult to overcome the collective size deficiency.
My caveat is that with new ownership/coaching/vibe, that situation could change.
Blaine: Ellis and Curry should coexist, but they won’t. Ellis resents Curry’s presence. How many times have we seen him give Curry the cold shoulder? Ellis’s ego and preconceptions have ruined any chance of him and Curry developing good chemistry. Too bad, because Ellis was playing at an All Star level the first quarter of the season, but as Curry’s star began to rise during the second quarter, Ellis’s began to dim. The once efficient Ellis has become a volume scorer and his market value has taken a hit. This is already Curry’s team—at least is should be—and I doubt Ellis can abide.
Now that the trade deadline has passed, and the Warriors have stood pat, what has to happen between now and the beginning of next season in order for the team to become playoff worthy?
Sheed: Easy, ownership change.
Strauss: I’m still down to swap Monta for OJ Mayo. I don’t even like OJ—I just want Curry to handle the rock strafed by a legit shooting guard.
I differ from many in that I believe the Warriors are talented (upon my writing that, the Oakland PD is knocking on my door, prepared to drag me to a drunk tank). So I’d advocate an OKC approach. Draft Evan Turner, and…wait. No get rich quick schemes, just patient, responsible team building. Sounds crazy, right?
Blaine: The playoffs are a long shot under any circumstance. A tall order even for America’s Cup winner Larry Ellison should he buy the team this year. The best hope of getting on track towards the playoff is for Cohan, if he is not going to sell the team, or the new owner to clean house. Purge the front office. Get rid of Rowell, Riley, and Nelson. This organization needs a completely new identity and image. Bring in a great basketball mind to be the General Manager, someone who relates well with players, is the respected throughout the league, and has the aptitude to tackle the financial aspects of the business side of the operation. The selection should be a break with the past, not a former Warrior. The new GM should have attained championship-level success, someone like a Rudy Tomjanovich, Pat Riley, or even Mike Krzyzewski. (Yes, Coach K. He had recent success with NBA athletes at the China Olympics.) The newly appointed General Manager should then select a coach who works well with young players, and is a teacher who runs an elegant offense (a Bay Area must) and preaches defense and rebounding.
After selecting a new coach, the new GM should trade for a dominant player who will mesh with the young talent on the team, preferably a strong finisher who will be on the receiving end of Curry’s passes. He will need to find for Curry his own Karl Malone or Amar’e Stoudemire.
The Warriors are likely to have a top 5 draft pick, but this is a weak draft class. They should package Ellis and their draft pick for an established star on draft night, or make a sign-and-trade deal thereafter, which involves Ellis and our pick.
Finally, the Warriors should improve the chemistry of the team. They need to find players who are willing to play for the team and meet team objectives. This is always the challenge of coaching, and every coach needs to have a dominant star who leads by example and demand conformance from his teammates. Stephen Curry may very well be that leader in the future. He needs to be paired with another star to make that happen. No one on this roster fills that bill at this time.
Evaluate Corey Maggette
Sheed: Scoring machine who can get to the line as well as any player in the NBA. Ideal 6th man on a winning team, scapegoat on a losing team. Consummate professional who doesn’t complain and simply does what is asked of him.
Strauss: Misunderstood, and my friends are still clowning me for thinking so. He’s selfish, he flops, these traits are annoying. But if he’s so awful for the Warriors, why isn’t the stink reflected in his +/- numbers? My take: He’s played for the Clippers and Dubs. You can’t make a silk purse out of that, let alone sow ears.
Blaine: First the good. Maggette comes across as a great guy in interviews. He’s a solid citizen and this year appears to be a glue guy in the locker room. Wisdom comes with age. He became much less of a black hole after getting booed by fans early this season. He has looked to pass the ball much more.
Now the bad. In spite of his improvements, the offense still stifles when he is in the game. Too often, fluid ball movement is terminated when the ball comes to him. Playing for a coach who gives his veterans carte blanch, Maggette has not worked out well. Even with his improvements this season, Maggette cannot shake his reputation around the league of being a stat whore. He will be difficult to trade, and I think the only chance they have will be NEXT season’s trade deadline. The Warriors are stuck. The only way to make lemonade out of this lemon is put him in the role of 6th man and cease and desist with playing him at the power forward spot.
Which NBA team helped themselves the most with trades last week?
Sheed: Dallas. They are the 3rd best team in the West behind only the Lakers and Nuggets. Caron Butler gives them toughness and another offensive threat who can take some of the load off of Dirk Nowitzki’s back. Look for them to be a tough out in the playoffs as neither Denver or Los Angelese will look forward to playing them.
Strauss: Cleveland. I’ve read a lot of analysis on this trade but I’m not sure such incisive examination was needed. Jamison’s already the second best player on a team that had the top pre-trade deadline record. Lebron + Three other three point shooters. JJ Hickson upgraded to Twan. Be afraid, East, be very afraid.
Oh, and I love how the Bobcats got Ty Thom for nothing. The Cats might turn into the most frightening defensive team ever (If Tyrus Thomas can de-crazy himself).
Blaine: Not the Warriors. Teams involved in trades last week either helped their cap situation significantly or added talent in areas of need. The Warriors did neither. Cleveland has to be the answer here. They needed to pair Lebron James with another star, and Antoine Jamison fits the bill. He is not quite Amar’e Stoudemire, but he’s a very close second. He’s not just a terrific forward, but he’s one of the league’s great ambassadors. He will be a terrific compliment to James and O’Neil. He will fit in well and do whatever Cleveland asks of him. If James pairs well with Jamison, and they win it all, James may re-sign with Cavs, making it, therefore, one of the great trades in NBA history. It could be the trade that saves the city of Cleveland. And Lord knows, Cleveland, which was recently ranked by Yahoo as America’s most miserable city , is in need of redemption.
What playoff matchups do you want to see?
Sheed: Denver vs Lakers, Cavs vs Celtics, Lakers vs Cavs.
Strauss: Bobcats vs. Celtics, Lakers vs. Denver, Lakers vs Dallas, Cleveland vs. Lakers, Cleveland vs. Orlando
Perhaps I love the NBA a little too much, this list could go on forever. I’m watching any Bobcats series. Same goes for Cleveland.
Blaine: For entertainment value I’d like to see a Dallas-Phoenix match-up in the early rounds. In the Western Conference finals, I’d think a rematch of the Lakers and the Nuggets would be intriguing.
In the East, I would like to see Boston and Atlanta play in the early rounds, though that match-up doesn’t look very likely to happen given their current positioning. Last year Boston and the Bulls played in an epic series. I think pitting the veteran Celtics against the young, talented Hawks has the potential to be a thrilling series as well.
In the Eastern Conference finals, the Cavs and Celtics would be a lot of fun to watch, provided Kevin Garnett is 100%.
Who makes it out of the West, and who are the biggest threats to dethrone the Lakers?
Sheed: Injuries. Barring injuries, no team is getting close to the Lakers. The Nuggets have the talent but lack the mental toughness to get it done while all the other teams out West just aren’t talented enough.
Strauss: I hope Chris Cohan makes it out of the West, and makes room for Larry. Denver is my pick.
And Denver/LA intrigues the hell out of me. Denver is the team constructed to beat LA. Ty Lawson will shred Derek Fisher like fish taco cabbage. Birdman will frighten Pau like it’s Gasol’s sixth birthday and Bird’s the scary clown. Afflalo will frustrate Kobe, or at least frustrate people trying to say his name. I don’t see Los Angeles winning this.
Oh, and for bball nerds who’ll argue that Fisher won’t guard Lawson, I say this: You’re right, but the Lakers will have to adjust what they do off the bat. That’s an abstract shredding.
Blaine: How do the Lakers not make it out of the West? I can’t see anyone pulling off the upset, but Chauncey Billups might have the talent and leadership chops to make the Western Conference finals difficult for the Lakers.
Who wins it all this season?
Sheed: The Mamba’s will win it again. Lakers are too good and too deep to be dethroned.
Strauss: Cleveland. Lebron’s got weapons, and he’s better than anyone else by a wide margin.
Blain: The Cavaliers. It’s their turn. James finally has a strong supporting cast, and he will parlay that talent into the city of Cleveland’s first professional sports championship since 1964. They hold longest championship drought in professional sports. That is reason enough to make the Cavs sentimental favorites.
College Player who can help the Warriors most?
Sheed: John Wall for obvious reasons. I also like DeMarcus Cousins and think he’s going to be an absolute beast in the NBA. Athletic, tough, skilled big man who won’t back down and loves to compete.
Strauss: Evan Turner. It’s wrong for me to push for him landing here, because he’ll re-hurt his back the second he lands.
Blaine: The best player in the draft is John Wall, but I’m not sure Wall helps the Warriors the most because they already have Curry and Ellis. That doesn’t mean the Dubs don’t draft Wall if they get the #1; it just means that they will be facing a serious dilemma in having three starting NBA point guards on their roster.
Given his game, Evan Turner might be the best fit coming in, assuming that Ellis is moved and Bell is not re-signed. At 6’7” Turner is a tall guard who is noted for his defense and is very unselfish with the ball. He would compliment Curry very well for years to come. DeMarcus Cousins has tremendous size and talent, but his mental and emotional states are cause for concern. Derrick Favors is also a talented big, but he has not shown enough yet to be ranked up there with Wall or Turner.
Is Nellie asked back to coach the Warriors next season?
Sheed: Yes, Nellie will be back next season because no way does Cohan pay him $6 million dollars to get out and go live it up in Hawaii. Hopefully Nellie gets re-energized by an infusion of some young talent and quality moves over the summer…or maybe not.
Strauss: No. Yes. It’ll probably be decided by a game of “rock, paper, scissors,” that a deranged Cohan plays against himself in the mirror.
Blaine: I just don’t see how Cohan and Rowell can ask Nelson back. The organization has done very little to show its fans that it is committed to moving forward, so bringing back Nelson would be a signal to season ticket holders that the status quo is acceptable. The only viable option I can see for Nellie sticking around is a move upstairs, but that is only if Cohan keeps the team. If the team is sold, the whole front office gets purged.
Can a fan boycott work?
Sheed: Hell no. The fans will keep coming out because they love basketball and the Warriors play an exciting brand of basketball.
Strauss: Probably not. We have no idea what motivates Cohan, so pinching his wallet might have no effect.
Blaine: Yes, a boycott can work because of the other elements in play, which include the bad economy and the declining financial health of the NBA, Cohan’s own reported financial troubles, fan disenchantment, and the rising tide of harsh criticism of the team by the local media (which has finally caught up the national media’s scorn). All the factors are in place for a fan boycott to become an effective form of protest and an additional catalyst for the sale of the franchise. Look, truthfully the boycott has already started. Its signs are present in fan blogs where many season ticket holders or former season ticket holders have said they have had enough. The empty seats at recent home games give further evidence of a mounting movement by paying fans who are looking to spend entertainment dollars elsewhere. And many of the seats that are being filled are given away or sold for pennies on the dollar through campy marketing promotions such as yesterday’s “C.J’s Mohawk Night” in which every fan that received a complimentary Mohawk from a Supercuts stylist at the Oracle was given a free ticket to the game. Cohan has to know that his season ticket base will shrink next season. Really, the boycott is already underway, and the movement is gaining momentum as the period for season ticket renewal draws near.
Andris Biedrins on WarriorsWorld TV