The clock is ticking and the pressure is on for the Warriors, what can they do at the trade deadline to turn this season around?
Golden State Warriors fans have had a cruisy life the past decade. When I think about team issues that I’ve had to go through, there’s the Draymond Green-Kevin Durant argument, the injuries in the 2019 Finals and before that… I guess you could say leaning on Jordan Crawford and Steve Blake as backup point guards.
So when I’m walking home after a wonderful day at work, listening to the first really concerning episode of Light Years, I’m taking it to heart.
“Hear me out on this,” host Andy Liu says. “I think that [the Warriors] are tired and not physically tired, I think they’re mentally tired and I think they’re a team that looks like they’re almost content with four [championships].”
“I think they’re saying to themselves: ‘man, for the first time in a long time, maybe the first time since after 2019, it’s a lot. We have about 30-plus games to go, then we’ve got to get to the postseason, then we’ve got to drag our ass to every single one of these games’.”
Are the Warriors content with four championships? If they never win another title, they’ll be known as one of the greatest teams of all time and with their stars deep into the wrong side of 30, failure is excusable.
Andy adds that the ‘second timeline’ was supposed to be better than this. James Wiseman should, at the very least, be letting Kevon Looney rest a bit. Jonathan Kuminga was supposed to be more than an energy big man (although his defence is very encouraging). Moses Moody was supposed to be one of the more NBA-ready wings but right now Steve Kerr is finding it hard to give him minutes.
Maybe if the young players were reliable contributors, the big three doesn’t look as lethargic and they’re not checking back into games in the fourth quarter trying to make up for a squandered lead. Maybe, then, I’m not writing an article about Golden State’s possible complacency.
But the young guys aren’t good right now and they might never be.
What we do know is that Steph Curry is still playing at an MVP level and when Draymond’s on the court, the Warriors are still one of the more dynamic defences in NBA history.
That’s enough to win an NBA title, and the front office needs to show some urgency and surround them with quality role players, just as they did last offseason before Steph put the rest of the league to bed.
As Bob Myers told Tim Kawakami, The Athletic on 9 November 2022, after the early-season struggles of his Warriors: “But it is 11 games. I’ll get back on the phone with you after 40 games or half the season and if we’re talking about the same stuff, maybe it’ll be different answers. But at this point, it is early. Not so early that we don’t care what we’re looking like. But it is too early to kind of make any drastic decisions.”
There’s a big enough sample size now, the front office needs to make a move. Bob Myers needs to show that winning a title in 2023 is more important than selling tickets in 2028.
Here are several routes the team can go down to improve the roster for this season:
Trading James Wiseman for Jakob Poeltl
This first trade is the cleanest of them all but (what I’m about to say is depressing and I mean it in the most negative possible way) the San Antonio Spurs probably say no.
The thought process here is that the Spurs take a swing at the former number two overall pick while the Warriors bring in a centre they know can play legitimate minutes in the playoffs. Think of Poeltl as a white Looney who doesn’t have the same chemistry with the starters.
The theory behind Big Jim was that he could be the most athletic big man on the court, skying for alley-oops when the shooters draw the attention of the defence. While that might be the case on offence (I’ll tell you that it’s not, I don’t care how quick he is), he’s unplayable on defence.
Poeltl could be a free agent at the end of this season and if his next contract is too rich, I wouldn’t even be mad if the Warriors let him walk, you wouldn’t want to pay him more than Looney. If this is a one-year rental, it’d at least increase their title odds for one season and that’s all that matters.
San Antonio have rightly asked for two first-rounders in a potential Poeltl deal according to James Weiss, The Athletic. With the Boston Celtics being the prime trade candidate and the report coming from the Celtics writer, you assume that it’ll be two bad firsts, most likely in the 20s.
Would the Spurs prefer those two bad firsts or a former second-overall pick? It might be worth taking a flier on the big-name prospect, but then you remember he has to get paid after next season and if it works out, do you really want to be the team giving him his second contract…
Golden State lands OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors land Myles Turner
A lot of moving parts here and I feel like the Toronto Raptors would be happy but the Indiana Pacers wouldn’t be.
Note that this hypothetical trade was put into the machine before Myles Turner’s renegotiation and extension, something that doesn’t make him trade ineligible but makes the money harder to work. Using my feeble brain power, I’m assuming that throwing Gary Trent Jr. in the deal, going to Indiana works.
The Raptors can continue their obsession with long, athletic wings by bringing in Jonathan Kuminga while also netting some juicy first-round picks for the distant future.
Despite Christian Koloko being one of the best defensive big men according to some very specific metrics, Turner would be a legitimate, veteran paint protector next to Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam. It’s also one of the very few trades out there where they lose OG Anunoby but might get better in the present.
The Pacers, who seem to be striving for the sixth seed every season, wouldn’t be happy losing Myles Turner for a flier on a prospect big and a lottery-protected first from a team in the lottery right now. I’ve only gone with the protection here because the Raptors set their price very high for OG, so they’d hardly like to lose a first while picking up two.
The Warriors should be doing this in a heartbeat if offered… The Death Lineup would then feature Andrew Wiggins, OG and Draymond Green – holy hell. With those first-round picks in the far-flung future, Golden State should be aiming this high in potential deals, not just working around the fringes.
The challenge trade to end all challenge trades
Are you starting to see a trend? Do I want to trade Wiseman for a current contributor?!
Talk about a challenge trade, the Utah Jazz could flip 40-odd good games of Walker Kessler into the former number two overall pick. I’ve been calling Kessler the white Rudy Gobert since the start of the season, he has a very similar impact to the baguette-sucking blondie but is being paid less than five million for four seasons.
He’s playing a role, he’s making the shots the offence gives him and he’s just a capable rotation player for a team hovering around .500. Would Bob Myers pour egg all over his face just to bring in a cost-controller contributor for the next four seasons?
Regardless of what Myers does, would the Jazz say yes to a swap of prospect bigs? Big Jim has the physical attributes to be an elite big in today’s NBA, but hasn’t proven anything outside of some G League games. Kessler looks like his floor is solid rotation big but his upside is a difference-maker on the defensive end of the ball.
Even if Danny Ainge loves Wiseman more than Kessler, the former is up for a contract extension this offseason while Walker has four years at a very low number before he’s up for a new deal. Maybe it’s different if all financials were equal but they’re not.
Is this Bob Myers’ last trade deadline with the Warriors?
When it comes to the players on the court and the trade deadline, it’s hard to care a lot about Bob Myers right now but if he’s truly going to enter executive free agency this offseason, what must his mindset be at the trade deadline?
How hard is he thinking about pushing all the chips in if he’s planning on leaving at the end of the season? Every form of messaging from the front office is that they’re playing it cool, taking their time, two windows etc. but what if he was any other lead decision maker, possibly one making moves to save their job?
And then on that, the rumours about Myers leaving are largely based on financial disagreements. Myers and his camp have made it known that he wants to be the highest-paid executive in the league. Is he entering the trade deadline with muted interest until he himself squeezes a deal out?
There are so many moving parts in this Warriors organisation and if Myers is the man for the job for the future, we’ll soon find out what his priorities are; assembling another title contender around this core or moving into the next phase of Golden State basketball.
Instead of doing all he can to make this roster competitive this season, the second window should be printing money at Chase Center for years to come, and sadly, that could dictate this season’s trade deadline.