Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson sat down for a Q&A with a number of Bay Area media members yesterday to discuss the upcoming season for my hometown team. The former point guard was pretty candid in his responses, and you can read the majority of the interview here.
With over $44 million already committed to Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins for this season and next (a number exasperated by their ill-fated decision to waste the amnesty clause last season on the expiring $4 million contract of Charlie Bell), the Warriors simply do not have the resources to sign even second-tier free agents.
But the organization does hope to find at least one productive player on the free-agent market. It won’t be a big name, or even a starter, but the team has scoured the free-agent pool seeking depth at either guard position and in their frontcourt.
According to Contra Costa Times reporter Marcus Thompson II, the team expects to have somewhere around $4 million to spend on a free agent.
Now that the second-tier (and below) free agents have begun to sign their contracts, the Warriors should have the funds to contend for these role players.
Here are five players that Warriors GM Bob Myers has to consider.
Face it, everyone: Dwight Howard will never be a Golden State Warrior.
But who needs him? The Warriors have Andrew Bogut, and he’s two-thirds the player Howard is, with only one tenth of the headache.
The Warriors’ new center can’t play the entire game himself, so he’s going to need some backup. And we know that David Lee can’t slide to the 5 to replace Bogut because he’s too awful defensively. Check out what ESPN’s John Hollinger says about Lee:
Lee…really has no interest in playing defense at all. This wasn’t just a Golden State thing—he was horrible in New York, too—and obviously joining this bunch didn’t heighten his motivation any. The all-too-common sight of Lee staying put on the weak side while an opposing guard cruised in for a layup was his most egregious failing, but he also struggled on-ball.
The numbers back up the subjective evaluation. Pick a method, any method—Synergy says he was in the bottom quarter of power forwards, 82games.com shows opposing power forwards had a 20.1 PER against him and basketballvalue.com reports the Warriors gave up 5.01 points per 100 possessions more with Lee on the court. He was 60th in blocks per minute, and in his case, his low foul rate was another indication that he was mailing it in.
The good news is that Hollinger’s analysis is based on Lee’s 2010-2011 season. The bad news is that Lee’s defense was even worse last year.
So it’s established: the Warriors need someone to eat up a few minutes at center when Bogut’s taking a breather. It’s also established: that particular someone should not be David Lee.
The Warriors currently have three other centers on the roster: Andris Biedrins, Festus Ezeli and Jeremy Tyler. Let’s break them down to see who should play the most behind Bogut.
You know, Andris Biedrins used to be a pretty good center. Just a couple of years ago, he averaged a double-double and looked like he might develop into a star. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old’s career has been in a downward spiral since 2009.
Afraid to be fouled, Biedrins has lost any semblance of aggressiveness and has become a net negative player on both ends of the floor. He’s still owed $9 million this season, so it’s likely he’ll be on the roster.
Amazingly, this season will be Biedrins’ ninth in the NBA, and he’s still in his mid-20s. While it’s nice to hope he’ll somehow rediscover the form he showed a few years ago, it seems unlikely. Mentally, he may be too far gone.
Unless Biedrins can turn back the clock or rediscover his confidence, he’s not the man to back up Bogut.
He did improve his numbers—on the surface—after he was granted significant minutes in April of last year. But a closer look at Tyler’s averages of 8.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in April shows that he accumulated those stats inefficiently. He shot only 41 percent from the field and 58 percent from the line while turning the ball over more than twice as often as he logged an assist.
Tyler is extremely young and certainly has room to improve on his rookie season. But it’s hard to imagine him improving enough to deserve key reserve minutes behind Bogut.
Selected by the Warriors at No. 30 in this year’s draft, Ezeli is bigger than both Biedrins and Tyler. At 7’0” and 264 pounds, he already has the size to take up space in the middle. He projects to be a pretty good shot-blocker and can run the floor, too.
Of course, that’s about all we can say about Ezeli at this point, since the rookie hasn’t yet played a minute in the NBA.
But if you’re a Warriors fan, you’ll probably agree that Ezeli is the best option to back up Bogut—because we don’t yet know that he isn’t. For years now, Warriors’ fans have pinned their hopes to unknown, unproven players because that’s all we’ve had. Draft picks represent hope—until that hope is proved false, as in the cases of Biedrins and Tyler.
So, in conclusion, Festus Ezeli has the benefit of the doubt for the moment. He’s the answer—until he shows us he isn’t.
It’s nice to hope, anyway. Right?
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The Chicago Bulls are in a precarious situation right now. With Derrick Rose out for the majority of next season and likely needing to change the way he currently plays, Chicago might find themselves out of the top four seeds in the East.
Chicago, when healthy, can definitely challenge Miami for Eastern Conference supremacy, but need to make the requisite moves to eclipse the Heat, who looked sharp against a young and developing Oklahoma City Thunder squad in the Finals.
While this might be drastic, the Bulls should consider trading Noah and/or Deng for two top-ten lottery picks and begin a “shorter than you think rebuild.”
Deng has been rumored to be part of trade talks with the Warriors, where Golden State sends their No. 7 pick and other parts to make the salaries match up to the Bulls.
At 7, Chicago will likely be able to finally draft a young, scoring wing player in Dion Waiters, who has a Dwyane Wade-like game.
Waiters can come off the bench as a sixth man right away and might even be able to take the starting spot away from Richard Hamilton if he plays well enough.
Noah has greater trade value than Deng, due in part to the fact that he has consistently averaged a double-double, while also being one of the more underrated defensive centers in the league.
Sacramento or Portland could use a defensive-minded center, and would at least consider dealing their first round picks (No. 5 and No. 6) for Noah.
The Kings could deal their first-round pick straight-up for Noah, which would also give the Bulls salary cap relief for the future.
Here are two proposed trades for Noah and Deng:
Joakim Noah for No. 5 Pick
Luol Deng for No. 7 Pick, Dorell Wright and Andris Biedrins
In Chad Ford’s most recent Mock Draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is available at No.5, a selection which would be perfect for the Bulls.
MKG is a tough player, who certainly has the tenacity and work ethic to improve his jumper, one of his glaring weaknesses. At this point in the draft, Kidd-Gilchrist is a steal.
Even if MKG is off the board, the chances are that Harrison Barnes would still be available. While I am not as high on Barnes as I am on MKG, the UNC product definitely can shoot the basketball and is more polished than Kidd-Gilchrist right now.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that the Bulls get Kidd-Gilchrist and Waiters. Chicago would have a starting five of Rose-Hamilton-Kidd-Gilchrist-Boozer-Asik, with Gibson, Waiters and Wright as the first three off the bench.
While this core will not win a championship for the next two to three years, Chicago is better positioned for the future, while also maintaining salary cap flexibility.
If Dwight Howard changes his mind about playing in Chicago, the Bulls will likely have the opportunity to sign him if they use the “Amnesty Clause” on Boozer in a year.
In this way, the Bulls are not really rebuilding, but rather reloading. Both Waiters and Kidd-Gilchrist are not only younger and cheaper, but they also have high upside.
While it is difficult to justify trading two All-Stars from a top-seeded team, the 2012 NBA Draft is loaded. In addition, it seems like the Bulls might be a step away from winning a championship and quite frankly, do not have the assets to improve the team exponentially.
If I am Chicago, I make both trades and ready myself for a bright future.
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If all the Chicago Bulls can get for Luol Deng is the No. 7 overall selection they need to hang on to the well-rounded small forward.
According to Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times, Chicago would like to ship out Deng to get into the draft lottery.
Their desire to ship out Deng makes excellent sense for one very big reason. The Bulls will be, in a sense, in a rebuilding year next season.
That statement seems ridiculous to utter for the team that entered these past playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but it is true because of what happened in those playoffs. Star point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL.
As ESPN’s Nick Friedell pointed out, Rose’s surgeon, Dr. Brian Cole, said after the surgery that the expected timetable for return is eight months to a year. In the same article, Cole is noted as saying Rose is ahead of schedule, but I still contend it would be foolish to expect Rose to be back near 100 percent at any time next season.
Getting on the court is one thing, but playing at an MVP level is another, and without Rose at his dominating best, the Bulls can forget about contending for an NBA title.
So this leaves the Bulls at a crossroads: They can try and patch it together and make a run at the title next year, or they can reshape their roster and aim for the seasons ahead, while possibly ending up with their own lottery pick the following year.
Their willingness to trade Deng for a draft pick is a sign they are going for the latter. This plays right into the Warriors‘ hands, who Thompson points out, are aggressively looking to add a small forward.
Still, the Bulls must do better than the No. 7 pick the Warriors have to offer, because not only would they be getting the pick, but they would also be forced to add a Warriors castoff—Thompson mentions Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins.
Bringing in the contracts of either would limit what the Bulls would be able to do this offseason, and the kind of player available at No. 7 simply isn’t worth it.
If the Bulls are going to make this trade, they need to do so for a player with the potential to be an All-Star, and it would be a huge gamble to think they could find that kind of player at No. 7. In that case, they’d be better off holding onto the 27-year-old Deng.
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Andris Biedrins was a young center who showed a decent amount of promise to be a double-double guy almost every night. The Golden State Warriors though it wise to lock him down for the future of their front court, so they signed him to a six-year, $54 million contract in the summer of 2008.
Maybe a few seasons ago it seemed like a great idea.
However, even after a career year in 2008-2009, Biedrins was hampered by injuries in the next two seasons and never seemed to find his stride afterwards.
This past season was an all-time low for Biedrins who logged just 15.7 minutes per game, posting horrendous averages of 1.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in that time.
The Warriors and their fans could clearly see that Biedrins was simply not turning a corner in his career and his confidence was all but gone.
Now Biedrins is due $18 million in his remaining two years on his contract and the Warriors have to keep in mind the future and making the necessary cap room adjustments.
With Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson coming in with their expensive contracts as well, the Warriors may be forced to give up on the Andris Biedrins project if they hope to continue moving forward in their rebuilding process.
The question is, however, are there any teams out there in the NBA willing to take on expensive, damaged goods?
In short, the answer is yes.
While Biedrins is by no means a productive big man at this stage in his career, the center position is still coveted by a lot of teams in the league.
True centers may still be one of the rarest positions in the NBA and if there’s one thing that Biedrins has going for him, it’s that he is in fact, a true center.
This could be a selling point for the Warriors in addition to his age (26 years old) and what he has shown himself to be capable of when fully healthy.
It’s a hard sell to convince any team, desperate or not, that a player who averaged 1.7 points last season is worth a spot on the bench—let alone two years and $18 million.
However, it’s a sell that the Warriors may be forced to make. The good news for Golden State is that they may have some potential buyers.
One suitable candidate is the NBA’s resident laughingstock, the Charlotte Bobcats.
After finishing with the worst winning percentage of any team in NBA history last season, it’s safe to say that the Bobcats wouldn’t be too picky about who gets to suit up for them in Charlotte.
The Bobcats are clearly looking to rebuild and they have at least found some decent help at the big man position in B.J. Mullens and D.J. White, but their depth is still lacking.
The Bobcats would, of course, be taking a risk by using their cap space on acquiring Biedrins instead of signing more valuable free agents, but it could pay dividends for them.
For example, Charlotte was a little depleted at the backup center area since DeSagana Diop was filling that role and putting up even worse numbers than Biedrins in about the same amount of playing time.
The worst part is that Diop was getting paid just about $2 million less to be even worse than Biedrins on the worst team in the NBA.
This offseason, Diop has a player option to stay on the Bobcats and rake in another $7.3 million next season for essentially doing nothing.
If the Bobcats wanted to get rid of Diop and make a serious upgrade at the backup center, they could deal a future second-rounder for Biedrins, thus pushing Diop down on the depth chart with hopes that he would opt out of his last year.
Biedrins still has the potential to return to the form of his past, but he won’t be receiving enough minutes in Golden State to really figure his game out.
As a member of the Bobcats, Biedrins would most likely earn some decent playing time and his competition to beat out for the starting job, Mullens, isn’t exactly an overwhelming obstacle.
What it boils down to is that the Warriors will surely be looking to get rid of Biedrins for just about anyone or anything in hopes that his previous successes will be enough basis to take a two-year chance on the Latvian center.
Any team willing to take in Biedrins will do so simply to give him a chance at turning his career back around.
While it may end up being an expensive move for a rebuilding team, the results they see from Biedrins could either prove himself almost worthy of his expensive deal or it could prove that the Warriors were right for getting rid of him at all costs.
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I’m so tired of hearing people either forget or deny that the Warriors have become an easy Playoff contender. It’s one thing to believe that they won’t stay healthy. Of course. They’re the Warriors. They have Bogut and Curry, two injury-prone players, running the show.
However, their offseason surgeries went very well, apparently, but that’s not the point. What I can’t understand is how so many people say they aren’t good enough. Here’s their roster for next year, as it stands, assuming they pick up the option on Charles Jenkins and extend the qualifying offer on Brandon Rush:
PG: Stephen Curry, Charles Jenkins
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Brandon Rush/Dorell Wright, Richard Jefferson
PF: David Lee
C: Andrew Bogut, Andris Biedrins, Jeremy Tyler
Now I ask, what is wrong with this team if they’re healthy?
Some say defense. And if I didn’t do my research on the Warriors myself, I’d probably assume the same thing.
But here’s an interesting statistic.
Before the Monta Ellis trade, in which they shipped out the team’s worst defender for an elite shot-blocker, the Warriors had an above-average rating in opposing field goal percentage and points per game (pace-adjusted).
And what’s changed?
They’ve gotten rid of Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh, and added Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson. In case you haven’t realized it, the number one reason the Warriors made that trade was to upgrade in size and defense, which is what so many people are still complaining about. As good as Udoh was at blocking shots, he isn’t the inside presence that Bogut is. Nor is he the excellent rebounder or notable low post scorer.
So while the Warriors lost Udoh and will probably lose Dominic McGuire, they still have Brandon Rush and Dorell Wright on the perimeter, with an improving Steph Curry. Now they have Bogut cleaning up their mistakes inside.
What they did struggle with mightily was rebounding. While they were embarrassing as a team, David Lee alone put up 10 rebounds a game, playing primarily out of position as a center. Now he gets to play every minute at his natural power forward position. So his rebounding is going to stay at least as good as it was.
Ekpe Udoh was great defensively, but his rebounding was decent at best. Andrew Bogut is also one of the best rebounders in the league. Now the Warriors have a rebounding tandem that can easily rival any other in the league.
Offensively, the team will be just fine.
When Stephen Curry was healthy last year, the Warriors never had any trouble scoring. They moved the ball, looked for open shots, made great decisions, got it to the big men at the right times and often got out in transition. When Stephen Curry was out, they rarely pushed in transition, they turned it over, they took contested jumpers and very frequently isolated.
The Warriors have one of the best young guard tandems in terms of shooting in the history of basketball, as Klay Thompson is an incredible spot-up shooter who gets better every game, especially at creating his own shot.
Brandon Rush, who will probably start at small forward, not only was one of the league leaders in three-point shooting, but was also quite efficient at breaking down his defender.
David Lee, one of the best high-post scorers and passing big men in the NBA, was a star, averaging 20 PPG while shooting over 50% from the field. This was despite the fact that he was the team’s only option on offense for much of the year, and that he was playing way too much center.
Now that the team has added Bogut, a strong, mobile seven-footer who scores easily in the low post, expect David Lee to get to deal with power forwards, as opposed to centers and to not have to force up every shot. Speaking of Bogut, the Warriors have added another excellent post passer and a low post threat.
The team’s bench isn’t as bad as it usually is. Charles Jenkins came out of absolute oblivion to become a very serviceable backup point/shooting guard. Assuming Rush starts, Dorell Wright and Richard Jefferson will successfully fill up the wing positions. Andris Biedrins, believe it or not, is actually useful coming off the bench, and by the end of the year, Jeremy Tyler became usable too.
One final thing to remember is that the Warriors have four picks in an amazing draft: the seventh, 30th, 35th and 52nd. Because of the depth in this draft, they might be able to draft a usable player at every pick. Or they might trade up to the second spot, as the Bobcats are shopping the pick.
If this works out, they’ll undoubtedly take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, an elite slasher, defender and transition player who can also rebound quite well for a small forward. Basically, he’s everything they need. Rumor has it that they may bundle the picks together to land an elite small forward, such as Rudy Gay, which would make them a borderline championship candidate.
If they do incredibly well in the draft, they might have a chance at landing home court advantage in the first round of the Playoffs.
The Warriors undoubtedly have one of the worst histories of any franchise in sports. Besides a championship over 30 years ago and an incredible, but short, Playoff run in 2007, there really isn’t much you can say about the Warriors.
But I’ll say this.
This is the most talented team they’ve assembled since the Run-TMC era, and if they stay healthy, they could make it out of the first round. If they stay healthy and win the draft, they could be a force in the West for a long time.
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The past few seasons have been rocky, to say the least, for the Golden State Warriors. However, with the NBA Draft coming up and with two key pieces in Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut as a foundation, hopes are high for the Dubs and their fans.
Just this past March, it didn’t seem so clear that the Warriors were sold on building around Curry, since there were trade rumors swirling around about possibly dealing for veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. As the trade deadline came and passed though, Golden State found themselves with Ellis leaving town instead of Curry.
While this trade may have shocked some Warriors fans and broken the hearts of others, the team’s decision to move forward with Curry as the franchise centerpiece was the right one. Ellis is certainly a very talented and often under-appreciated player, but as Curry continues to develop into the primary scoring option on the Warriors, they decided they needed to give up some scoring to try and bolster their shallow front court.
Something Curry hasn’t had in his short NBA tenure thus far is to have two reliable big men on the court at the same time. David Lee has been the go-to big man for Golden State, with little to no help from teammates like ex-Warrior Ekpe Udoh, Andris Biedrins and Kwame Brown.
While Bogut has been marred by injury for a solid portion of his career, he still has shown that he can play well when healthy. His solid rebounding ability paired with Lee should make them a force on the glass and down low in the offensive post game.
This should bring a smile to Curry’s face, since he has had to pass to power forwards or centers in the post who simply couldn’t get it done consistently. A great example of this is illustrated in this low-light video of Andris Biedrins, who started 35 games for Golden State last season.
Now with the pairing of Bogut and Lee, and the prospect of getting more help out of the draft, Curry could thrive and progress more in his own offensive game—thus helping both himself and the team.
If the Warriors did decide to deal Curry in that rumored Rondo trade, things would not have been so optimistic for Golden State.
Rondo is certainly an elite point guard who can dominate games on his own, but he wouldn’t have fit in with the Warriors as nicely as he currently fits in on the Celtics. He facilitates offenses well and works best out of a half-court style offense.
However, the Warriors play more of an uptempo pace compared to what the Celtics play, and Rondo doesn’t have a strong enough offensive prowess to really reach his full potential in that sort of system.
Curry is more suited to a style such as this, since he has a lethal shooting touch and plenty of quickness to force the defense to adjust on the fast break or in transition.
Aside from that, Curry is still developing and is only 24 years old, so making a move like this, because of one bad injury to Curry’s ankle, might have been detrimental to Golden State’s current rebuilding plans.
The purpose of rebuilding a team is to put in place a young core of talent that can continue to have consistent success for the future. If Rondo was in Curry’s place, he would have to adapt to their system, and the Warriors would essentially be trying to jam a puzzle piece in a place where it just doesn’t quite fit.
However, there’s no need to worry about those what-if scenarios now, since Golden State has demonstrated their full trust in Curry to lead this team for the future, by keeping him and dealing long-time Warrior Monta Ellis instead.
This was a tough decision for their front office to make, with Ellis being a great contributor and fan favorite over his seven seasons as a Warrior, but it had to be done if this team wants to stop treading water and start swimming forward.
Curry as a centerpiece puts a lot of pressure on him but it’s something I think he could handle with poise. He was obviously the focal point on offense in his college days at Davidson, so being a team’s go-to guy on offense isn’t exactly a foreign idea for Curry. Additionally, unlike his college years, Curry will have some more help on both sides of the ball so he won’t be destroying himself to keep a team afloat.
That’s the whole point of having a centerpiece—to put strong supporting pieces around it to make for the best product.
With the team in one of the best positions in recent memory to climb out of the depths of the Western Conference, hopes are high once again in the Bay Area and the fans are still believing in the Dubs.
Stephen Curry is holding the reins of the Warriors franchise. and the team is looking to him to steer them back to the playoffs.
As far as I’m concerned, he’s the right man for the job.
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