Does the roster look better in the next 4 years by making the trade or standing pat?
Consider what we are losing: Barnes (or Klay), Bogut, draft picks (likely 2014), cap flex.
We gain the #1 center when healthy, but what if Bogut comes back to Denver Series form? Frankly, I'll take a healthy Bogut over a healthy Howard because Bogut is such a more well-rounded player, plays with aggression, and is Aussie tough. I understand that he probably won't ever regain his offensive game of old, but if he can change the game enough like he did vs. the Nuggets, that's plenty. With a summer of rest and proper healing, it's very possible that he does return much better than what we've seen as a Warrior.
With Howard (assuming Barnes is traded)
SF: Rush / Green
C: Howard / Ezeli
* that's an incredible starting 4
* legit Finals contender
* capped out in 2014
* no 2014 draft pick, likely other future picks as well
* have to rely on contract exceptions to add quality depth to that roster
* buyers remorse if Howard's back and shoulder issues return
* regret if Barnes becomes an All-Star and things don't turn out as planned with Howard
SF: Barnes / Rush
PF: Lee / Green
C: Bogut / Ezeli
* 2014 draft will be historically good
* we'll have greater cap flex to upgrade the bench
* in the conversation for contender IF key players remain healthy
* we'll have max money if we decide not to retain Bogut and about $12M to spend if we do
Although the Warriors would be instant contenders if they pulled off a Howard deal, I wouldn't be mad if we didn't come to fruition. There are a lot more options on the table if the Warriors stand pat. We'll be able to bring back the key players and add to it in 2014. If they continue to get better as expected, adding a star player to the mix in the $12M range would make this team a serious contender. The Warriors are now considered an up-and-coming franchise and with all things equal, the better free agents will choose to sign here.
We'll be able to watch Barnes grow and develop his game as a Warrior. Admittedly, I wasn't convinced he had the 'it' factor when they drafted him because he looked too mechanical on the court, didn't rebound consistently well, didn't have a high assist rate, and disappeared at times. As his rookie year progressed, he became more confident in going to the rim, his shot began to fall in big games, and his freakish athleticism began to translate on the floor in the form of good defense, blow-bys, and thunderous dunks. All the typical signs of a struggling rookie disappeared while playing on one of the biggest stages the NBA has to offer.
Going for a title with Howard is less of a gamble than going after a title with the the group we have (plus cap space and draft picks). But, if the gamble that the Bogut gives us what he showed vs. Denver, Rush returns to form, internal development of Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Green, and Ezeli take place, and the Front Office target the right players and make the right moves....this team is set to make a more sustainable push towards the ultimate goal, an NBA Title.