The Warriors on Deadline Day: A History
In the last 25 years the Warriors have made 5 trades on deadline day, which actually puts them in the upper third of most active teams in that period. Let’s go to the tape:
1990: GM Don Nelson makes two blockbuster deals, first acquiring Christian Welp from the Spurs for Uwe Blab and then trading Winston Garland to the Clippers for two 2nd round picks. Nelson reportedly considered taking Welp with the 14th pick in the 1987 draft before settling on Tellis Frank (Welp went 16th to the 76ers) and he decided to see if there was anything left in the 7-footer. There wasn‘t. Welp played 14 games for the Warriors and was out of the league the next year. Garland was the kind of player that inspired advanced statistical analysis in basketball: a guy who put up superficially good offensive numbers for a team that played at a fast pace. He should get some credit for starting 79 games on a team that went to the conference semifinals in 1988 but he was better suited as a backup and he became expendable the next year when the Warriors drafted a short, stocky point guard from UTEP whose interests included breaking ankles on crossovers and pulling up for knuckle ball jumpers on the break.
1996: By this time that point guard had worn out his welcome with the team. Or, more accurately, he had worn out his welcome with Latrell Sprewell. One of them had to go and GM Dave Twardzik decided it would be Hardaway. The Warriors traded him and Chris Gatling to the Heat for Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles. This deal violated two NBA principles: don’t give up the best player in a trade and don’t trade for Bimbo Coles. Willis and his elbow pads would only play 18 games for the Warriors but Coles, incredibly, would play almost 200 over the next 3 years on teams that combined to go 70-144.
1998: GM Garry Saint Jean came out firing, trading Donald Royal to the Hornets for Scott Burrell. Burrell would play terribly in 29 games for a terrible team and would leave after the season was over. But Saint wasn’t done. He then pried Jason Caffey from the Bulls for David Vaughn and second round picks in 1998 and 2000. Saint got his man in this one. He identified Caffey as a long-term solution at power forward and gave him a $35 million contract. It became pretty clear pretty quickly that Saint did not, in fact, get his man. Or maybe he did. Either way, Caffey would only start 88 games for the Warriors and would average about 10 and 6 in those games.
2002: Marc Jackson to the Timberwolves for Dean Garrett and a 2nd round pick in 2007. I’m not sure how many GMs there are who have asked for a 2nd round pick 5 years later in a deal but Saint can always say he’s one of them.
2005: Baron Davis to the Hornets for Speedy Claxton, Dale Davis and cash. GM Chris Mullin made arguably the best trade in team history and inarguably the best trade the Warriors have ever made on deadline day. Baron would lead the Warriors to their only playoff appearance since that point guard from UTEP was on the roster and he would outplay the league MVP in one of the biggest playoff upsets in NBA history.
2011: Bob Fitzgerald for Greg Papa.