The Week That Was:
First off, welcome to the new regular day for Warriors Weekly!
With the change, this was a shorter “week” than usual with only two games. Tuesday marked the single worst loss of the season since the Warriors got outplayed at home by the Charlotte Bobcats. Without drawing too much from any single game, it can be useful to remember that any NBA team, especially one that tries on defense, has the ability to win on the road when an opponent plays poorly.
The Warriors rebounded after a rough Charlotte game and a horrible first quarter to dispatch the Bulls by fifteen. In a strange turn, both teams announced late scratches shortly before game time as David Lee and Andrew Bogut each sat for the home team while Chicago’s Carlos Boozer missed the game as well. The backcourt stepped up offensively as Curry and Thompson combined for 56 points and 10 assists with only 3 turnovers. Klay scoring 22 on 50% shooting from the field was particularly welcome after a brutal stretch of games over the last two weeks.
The Soapbox: Thoughts on the Trade Deadline and Selling Low
There seems to be a growing consensus in the NBA media that the Warriors are looking to make another move before the deadline. That desire makes sense due to the fact that the team may not be performing up to the lofty expectations of the pre-season and the 9-1 road trip.
Unfortunately, the franchise possesses very few trade assets unless ownership gives the green light to use their bigger trade exception to potentially go over the luxury tax line. [Author’s Note: While the Warriors are hard capped for this season due to the Andre Iguodala sign-and-trade, that hard cap is at the "apron” which is $4 million over the tax line] Since I do not consider that to be a reasonable path for the 2013-14 season given what we know, there are not many trade partners or targets that pass the smell test while also making a big enough difference to matter in the short term.
Working on the assumption that Curry, Bogut, Iguodala, and Klay are functionally untouchable, the “asset” side of any trade the Warriors could make pretty much boils down to Harrison Barnes and David Lee. While Tim Kawakami’s well-reasoned piece outlined the possibility of a trade sending Lee to Cleveland along with Barnes for Luol Deng and Dion Waiters, I do not see the Cavs making a trade for an expensive Power Forward since they have not given up on Tristan Thompson and would be committing massive money to a player much older than their core not playing a position of need.
In fact, while the idea of moving Lee for a shorter deal to potentially procure a better fitting Power Forward makes sense, very few compatible trade partners have the desire to make that happen. I should know- I have been trying to figure out a way for the Warriors to move Lee for Taj Gibson (which would have to involve a third team to take Lee and give Chicago expiring contracts and/or assets since they do not want him) since Gibson was first rumored to be available. Cleveland, Charlotte, and Brooklyn stand out as facilitators but each has reasons not to do the deal.
The other challenge becomes apparent when thinking about what to do with Harrison Barnes. While Mark Jackson could do a much better job maximizing Harrison’s contributions by playing him in a more logical role, the fact of the matter remains that adding Andre Iguodala heavily reduced the usefulness of Barnes to this team in the immediate and Draymond Green’s strong play cut it even further. The larger question has to be whether moving Barnes now would constitute selling low on him. After all, Barnes will finish the regular season as a 21 year old with two years of super cheap team control plus restricted free agency after that. While many of us still believe in Barnes, the more casual observer or anyone who looks at his season stats may see his recent play and the fact that the Warriors would be moving him so quickly as signs that the team will take less for him than they should.
Offers certainly exist that would justify moving Barnes now, especially if there are teams whose opinion of him has stayed high since the 2012 Draft. That said, the limited flexibility in play over the next two weeks makes it prohibitively unlikely that such a deal will materialize. If it does, Bob Myers should strike but otherwise standing pat likely makes the most sense for both the short and long terms.
The Week to Come:
An interesting set of games that may provide a better understanding of where the Warriors fit in the Western Conference before the trade deadline. Tonight marks the final game in the regular season at Phoenix (they play one more time at Oracle on March 9th) and Stephen Curry must take advantage of Eric Bledsoe missing this tilt due to injury. Goran Dragic may play with a little extra gusto because Anthony Davis received Kobe’s injury replacement spot in the All-Star Game over him yesterday.
The Warriors’ final two games before the All-Star Break come at home and could not be against two more different opponents. Philadelphia (in potential Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams’ only game at Oracle this season) comes in with their usual nearly empty cupboard and the third-worst record in the league while Miami has the third-best record in the NBA and should remember that Golden State has beaten them at home each of the last two seasons.
I am expecting a 1-2 week but 2-1 would be a nice statement.