Sunday, July 5, 2009


The Superstar
It's been widely reported that Amare Stoudemire would be a Warrior right now if the Warriors were willing to throw Stephen Curry into a package that included Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright, and Marco Belinelli. The trade would be a big step in establishing credibility to a franchise that no big name free agents want to be a part of. Bringing Amare on board would instantly make the Warriors relevant playoff contenders even after giving up 4 players for 1 and it would be much easier to sell the idea of playing for the Warriors to other free agents.

PG: Ellis | Law | Watson*
SG: Jackson | Morrow
SF: Azubuike | Maggette
PF: Randolph
C: Stoudemire | Turiaf | Davidson*
* if resigned

The starting 5 is vastly improved and depth reduced, but Don Nelson has proven that he can easily find players to fill in the holes further down the depth chart. He hasn't had a legitimate post presence like Stoudemire since Chris Webber's rookie year. Amare is a potent option with the athleticism and range perfect for Nellie-ball. I have a few reservations about his health and attitude, but at some point, you have to be willing to take a gamble and cash in your chips (young surplus talent) to become serious players in the game. July 8th is the earliest a deal can officially go through, so we'll see what happens. Right now, it's a staring match between Nelson and Kerr. Who will blink first?

Internal Development
I'm fine whether the trade goes through or not, but Curry better be spectacular if he's going to be the deal-breaker to a trade that almost brought a true star onto the roster. Nellie was so high on Curry that he said that Curry was the second ranked player on their draft board, with only consensus #1 pick, Blake Griffin ahead of him. Let's hope he's not just blowing smoke and that his incredible eye for talent pays dividends once again. Curry sounds like a player that could eventually bring credibility to the franchise. If he morphs into Nash as Nellie envisions and grows a few more inches has his doctors project, he could indeed be a special player that other free agents would love to play with.

Even if Amare doesn't come, we have some star potential that we can wait on, though many fans have understandably lost their patience and want results NOW. Randolph will be a star, perhaps a top 10 talent. Monta's pretty damn good when 100%. Biedrins was putting up All-Star worthy numbers for a Western Conference center early in the 2008/09 season before the Crawford trade. If the Warriors had a winning record, he just might have made the roster. Morrow has the potential to be the best shooter in the NBA. Turiaf is an inspirational teammate and a locker room presence that could hold the team together in tough times. We might end up regretting getting rid of Belinelli and Wright this early in their careers because, quite frankly, we don't know what they are really capable of becoming. Both youngsters were playing very well until injury cut their seasons short and both have shown flashes of greatness. Warriors have a lot of promising pieces that bode well for a brighter future.

PG: Ellis | Curry | Law
SG: Jackson | Morrow | Belinelli
SF: Azubuike | Maggette
PF: Randolph | Wright
C: Biedrins | Turiaf | Davidson

We have great versatility on the roster where all players can play 2 or more positions with the exception of Biedrins. Belinelli may be low on the depth chart, but his ability to play PG, SG, and SF could get him adequate playing time when the inevitable injuries hit to show what he can do in meaningful minutes. Wright was the starter prior to getting injured. Hopefully, he gets stronger and logs more minutes. Belinelli and Wright need to get a lot of minutes next season so they can evaluated and to prop up their trade values which are currently lower than they should be.

New Ownership with Vision
Besides bringing in an All-Star or slowly growing super stars through internal development, new ownership would bring instant credibility back to the Warriors. The only constant in the 15 seasons with only a single playoff appearance was Chris Cohan. When half of the league qualifies for the playoffs every year, it's a very difficult task to miss the playoffs 14 out of 15 years. The Warriors have managed to do this through a series of bad hires, bad picks, bad luck in the draft, bad signings, and putting short term gains ahead of long term vision. The current ownership has shown time and time again that the #1 priority is profitability. They tend to go for the quick fix rather than making sure every move they make is checked against how it will effect the long term vision of building a true contender. It's a bad sign when Robert Rowell, a marketing guy, has more say in shaping the franchise than your GM. Cohan doesn't seem to understand that sacrificing a few years of profits to build a true contender will lead to exponential, sustained profits in the future and an increased value to the franchise in general. It's no wonder diehard Warrior fans despise Cohan and that he is ashamed to show his face in his own arena. When new ownership arrives and puts winning ahead of profits, credibility will return.

Winning Cures All Ills
The biggest factor in generating credibility is simple: winning. Once the Warriors start winning, free agents will want to come. But, it can't be 1 or 2 seasons and then fading in and out of the playoffs. It needs to be a sustained stretch of success and winning must be ingrained in the culture of the franchise. Winning the championship should be the ultimate goal, not just a 1 and done 1st round appearance in the Playoffs. Many of the factors mentioned previously are prerequisites to building a type of team that wins year and in year out.

The Warriors got a brief taste of success after the 'We Believe' season. Free agents and players around the league WANTED to be a part of the action. They were the darlings of the NBA when they upset the #1 seeded Mavericks. They had the winning season, the star point guard, the fun style of play, the rabidly loyal fan base, a respected future Hall of Fame coach, and attractive region for players to call home. Warriors up for free agency were willing to sign on at a discount in order to stay. Golden State became a desired destination, but the momentum was quickly squashed by a series of decisions that hurt credibility with the Warriors players, players around the league, GM's, the media, and the fans. Some of the big ones:
  1. playing hardball with their own players in free agency - Pietrus deserved to be treated better and should have been a keeper
  2. trading Richardson, but not making the most out of the deal - I supported the deal, still do. But the Warriors did not use Wright enough or the $10M exception to acquire another valuable piece to the roster
  3. over-playing the stars and not utilizing the bench - resulted in tired vets unable to finish off the season strong and miss the playoffs
  4. Baron opting out of his final year - perhaps could have been avoided if the $10M exception was used on some veteran help to make it worth sticking around for one more year
  5. freezing out and poor treatment of Mullin, a well-liked and respected figure around the NBA
  6. over-paying for Maggette - burned valuable cap space on a one-dimensional player and hurt future cap flexibility
  7. extending Jackson prematurely - eliminated the possibility of using his deal as an expiring contract to bring in a legitimate star
  8. backstabbing, mind-games, and politics when it came to playing time for the likes of O'Bryant, Wright, Belinelli, Randolph, Williams - wasted picks, trades, and opportunity to find out what you have
  9. Nellie's reputation as a career killer if you are in his dog house like Harrington, Williams, and Crawford - word gets around the league fast how they treat some of their best players
  10. attempting to manipulate public opinion through KNBR, the print media (is Rusty Simmons on the Warriors' payroll?), blogs, and fan forums - it adds a rather sleazy touch to the organization
The way that the Warriors do business has to change. They need to do a better job at being disciplined with transactions and insure that every major thing they do is with building a contender in mind (not just a weak low seeded playoff team). They need to treat players and staff with more compassion and respect in order to build back the good-will lost over the last 15 years. They need to treat the fans better and reward the most loyal and knowledgeable fan base in the NBA by showing them they are truly committed to winning above all else. When they start to act with class, they slowly become a class organization. Only then will credibility be restored.

Related Links
Warriors' name is mud to free agents - Monte Poole
Warriors big picture: Is Cohan getting ready to sell? - Tim Kawakami
Warriors weekend: Amare’s worth, Curry vs. Ellis, backing out of tentative NBA deals - Tim Kawakami
Does anybody want to play for the Warriors? - Tim Kawakami
Amare Stoudemire: Corey Maggette Redux? - Adam Lauridsen
The NBA’s Best Fans — and the Franchise that Takes Them for Granted - Adam Lauridsen
Nellie has his new Nash, and his new point guard - Cam Inman
SPECIAL REPORT: The man who owns the Warriors - Mark Fainaru-Wada
Golden State Warriors History

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