Golden State holds a valuable card
As the NBA trade deadline approaches, you have a big question to answer.
Should the Warriors fear the Denver Nuggets or the Memphis Grizzlies in a seven-game playoff series?
I know; we just answered that question last season.
So what about the Los Angeles Clippers or the Sacramento Kings?
Those are the only four Western Conference teams ranked ahead of the Warriors in the latest ESPN Power Rankings or Wednesday morning’s NBA Rankings.
And since I know how the Warriors will answer that question (no, no, no and absolutely not), I ask you.
Although I don’t see why you would disagree with the Dubs.
The Warriors have been disappointing and inconsistent all season — god, have they been frustrating to watch — but in a Western Conference that lacks a great team, the Dubs head into the trade deadline in a solid position.
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
It may not look like it, but it’s true: this Warriors team has everything it needs to compete for another title. No guarantees, but their eight-man rotation is more than enough. God knows they are not lacking in experience.
These next few days are only an opportunity to increase their chances, to strengthen their workforce.
If the Warriors want to stay true to the trade deadline, it’s an acceptable game.
If they want to add a rental player on an expiring contract to improve their title chances this year, that’s good play too.
The Warriors may be a team surrounded by questions — what, with their two timelines and all — but they enter the fray with no sense of desperation.
It is a valuable card to hold in business negotiations.
The Warriors have nothing to do until Feb. 9 at noon PT. This separates them from their Western Conference peers.
The Nuggets, Clippers and Grizzlies had better do something before the deadline – lest each lose a golden opportunity to win the franchise’s first title.
The Kings should probably do something. Not because they’re going to win a title, but because they can’t lose their playoff spot now. It would be too heartbreaking for long-suffering Capital fans.
Then there are a bunch of teams below Golden State in the standings. To be worse than a Warriors team that barely tried this season? You clearly need more.
Meanwhile, the Warriors – a team that seems constantly torn between the past and the future – found themselves firmly in the moment before the deadline.
(Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Ultimately, this lack of desperation will likely result in a quiet trade deadline for the Dubs. Desperation is the driving factor of trades when time is of the essence. Teams feeling pressure drop that extra first-round pick or pitch that young prospect they want to keep. They pay too much, hoping that the short-term gains from any move will far outweigh the long-term costs.
Some good players are currently being bought at comically high prices.
Alex Caruso, Jakob Poeltl or my favorite name on the trading block, Utah backup center Jarred Vanderbilt, would all make great warriors.
But will the Dubs part with a first-round pick — or, in the case of the first two options, multiple — to land those bench improvements?
Such moves could be easily justified.
It is likely that they will not. Those late first-round picks are cheap labor for a team looking to cut costs at the far ends of the roster and avoid paying half a billion dollars in payroll next season.
The Warriors trade deadline challenge is best summed up in this fact:
The Dubs’ hardest-to-trade player — James Wiseman — is also the team’s most likely to be traded player.
They’re selling low on Wiseman, but hoping another team will buy Wiseman’s already expensive and supposedly high contract (that, or the draft picks the Warriors will have to be packaged with him).
It will take a real Goldilocks situation for the Warriors to make such a move. If you know of a team that could partner in a trade, there’s a basketball operations department in San Francisco that would love to hear that feedback.
Since I’m not (and it looks like the Warriors front office isn’t either) at 12:01 next Thursday, I’m expecting this team to look the same.
And it will be very good.