Thursday, April 24, 2008

How the Warriors Can Have a Golden Offseason

The Golden State Warriors season came to an abrupt early end on April 16th. They went out with a whimper in their season finale against the Seattle Supersonics. The score doesn’t matter but the outcome of this offseason does.
Finishing ninth in a loaded Western Conference with the highest record not to make the playoffs in recent memory leaves the Warriors with many questions this summer.
1) Resign Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins
This is simple. This is the “duh” move of the summer. Both of these guys are the future of the team for years to come. Monta will be 23 in October while Andris just turned 22 in April, their games are still developing. Both players have expressed wanting to come back and management wants them on the roster for quite some time.
2) Sign Baron Davis to a new contract
Baron is slated to make $17.8 million this 2008-09 season, it’s the final year on his six year $80 million dollar contract he signed with the Hornets in 2002. Rumors are circling whether he and Coach Don Nelson have a rift which could lead to Baron’s opting out the final year and bolting out of Oakland.
These are just ridiculous rumors.
Baron loves Oakland. Baron has Nellie to thank for the resurrection of his career. He has extremely high respect for Nellie and his basketball IQ.
Golden State should get Davis to opt out of his contract and give him a three year deal for around $54 million with a team option for the fourth season. People are questioning Baron’s age who will turn 30 this April along with his health.
Baron played a full 82 game season for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
3) Establish a Bench
The following players will all more than likely not be returning to the team next year.
Mickael Pietrus SG/SF/PF
Patrick O’Bryant C
CJ Watson PG
Matt Barnes SG/SF/PF
Kelenna Azubuike SG/SF/PF
Austin Croshere PF

With Pietrus and Barnes undoubtedly heading out the door, Golden State needs to find a new Defensive-Back-Up- Stopper and an Energy-Little-Bit-of-Everything guy.
Kelenna Azubuike will without question option out of his player option and look for more dollar signs, deservingly so. If they sign anyone from their bench it should be Azubuike.
Buike was the most consistent bench player on the team as well as one of the few guys on the bench to gain Nelson’s trust. Buike played key minutes late in games for the Warriors hitting a game winner early in the season against the 76ers.
4) Find Roles for Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright
If you glance back up and see the players leaving the Warriors roster, it leaves them with these players.
Baron Davis PG
Stephen Jackson SG/SF/PF
Monta Ellis PG/SG
Brandan Wright PF
Andris Biedrins C
Marco Belinelli SG
Kosta Perovic C
Al Harrington PF/C
There are five players on this list all under the age of 23. Two of them start (Monta and Andris) two of them have untapped potential which were on display sparingly and one of them looks like he wears bricks for shoes (Perovic).
Unfortunately “Rookie” is a word that makes Coach Don Nelson cringe, Nellie has a history of demoting rookies to the end of the pine. His system requires a high IQ level on offense with an understanding of spacing, lanes, the extra pass, and screening on the ball.
Marco is a guy who is much better moving without the ball, catching and shooting. He has a JJ Redick type of offensive ability he can hit any shot from anywhere anytime. Something even one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA struggled to do at times.
Countless times the Warriors would score 35+ points in the 1st or 3rd quarter then the following quarter put up low 20 point quarters. Their offense would become stagnant as there would be no real solid rotation between Baron, Monta, and Jackson as they all would play around 40 minutes a game.
Marco is a guy who can come in on the 2nd unit and produce scoring numbers. By giving either Monta/Baron/Jackson a rest and still scoring would help out the Warriors as a whole.
With such a great offensive weapon as Marco on the bench he is polar opposite on the defensive end. Too many times he would let faster guards scoot right by him without much effort. If he wants minutes he is going to have to earn them on the defensive end.
Brandan Wright can play. He showed flashes of greatness as well as signs of rookie mistakes, something a young player named Monta Ellis did his rookie season. Look for Brandan to have the leash loosened just a bit more this following year. With the Warriors for the umpteenth season in a row looking for interior presence, Brandan Wright may fill that void albeit he may still be a little light for the job.
Wright’s length and quickness have some comparing him to Andris Biedrins, which is not a fair comparison. Wright can have plays called for him with his back to the basket; he can also face up to the basket from 12 feet and in and score.
Unfortunately for Wright, Chris Webber was signed mid-season and he lost crucial playing time in February to the Webber experiment. Brandan can be an energy type big man for the Warriors, he plays good defense and has the ability to block a lot of shots. Look for Brandan to contend for more playing time whether he’s coming off the bench early, or in the starting five come January.
5) Trade Al Harrington
It just makes too much sense to not trade him. Harrington is the second highest paid player on the roster, yet fifth or sixth in talent. Al is playing out of position Nellie has tried to turn him into a spot up 3 point shooter to spread out the defense and pull the opposition’s big man out to him. But Al is an mid range/driving player he can shoot the three, but it’s not his main shot which Nellie has tried to make it.
Now who do the Warriors trade for? The first thing in everyone’s mind is a big man, a banger. A Chris Wilcox/Brandon Bass/Paul Millsap/Leon Powe. Not me.
The Warriors need a back-up point guard and that’s something they could probably get for Harrington’s talent and contract.
With Marco moving into the back-up SG, getting Azubuike back-up SF, Brandan Wright/Kosta Perovic backing up or starting PF/C. The Warriors will need someone to give Baron a breather, someone who is a true floor manager. Run the team for hopefully 12-18 minutes a game.
Who do they trade for? Some ideas.
Earl Watson,Luke Ridnour, TJ Ford, Jose Calderon, Andre Miller, Jason Williams just to name a few guys.
With a $10 million trade exception that expires on June 28th two days after the draft they could figure something out by then. Giving them the option to sit back and see what comes to them in this year’s draft which promises to be very deep.
If the Warriors get a great big man to fall to them in the draft and they’re capable of trading Harrington for a solid back-up PG, I feel that it could be the best scenario for them allowing them to make a few other moves to fill out their bench.
Watch out for the Warriors next season as this offseason could be as exciting as the season was.

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