Can you believe we're this far into the Warriors season and we still haven't had our friend Tim Kawakami on the show? You all know Tim from the San Jose Mercury and his blog Talking Points. If you don't read Talking Points daily and you call yourself a Bay Area sports fan there's seriously something wrong with you. It's the Mecca of Bay Area sports insights and it's ALWAYS, ALWAYS a wildly entertaining read. I'm not even kidding.
Make the jump for Tim's thoughts on whether the Warriors are going to be active at this year's trading deadline and why they've really improved their road record this season.
Golden State of Mind: With a little over a month left before the trading deadline, other than Mickael Pietrus the Warriors haven't really been involved in many rumors. Usually Mullin has the rumor mill working overtime with all of the possible players he could be acquiring and dealing. Is he content with the current roster and will only make minor changes such as calling up CJ Watson or is he going to make a deal to bring in some significant talent to help the team? Which players are most likely to get traded if a big deal does happen? Monta? Biedrins? Harrington?
Tim Kawakami: The thing with Mullin, I think we've all learned, is that there is no connection between bubbling trade rumors and what he might actually do. Zero. None. He's just not one of those execs who discusses his trade thoughts with agents or other GMs and everything he does is usually out of the blue. Baron: Out of the blue. Mega-Indy trade: Out of the blue. Richardson to Charlotte: Blue, blue, blue. KG: not out of blue, no trade. So it really doesn't matter what we're hearing or not hearing about Mullin leading up to late-February. He loves it that way.
That being said, I don't see a major move coming, which, of course, I'm sure causes Mullin to explode in laughter. The moves he has made have all been to re-shape the roster... to look like it is now. Well, Chris also wanted to set up for a Garnett deal, but he wanted to do that AND reduce his long-term salary commitments, get younger and get faster. All of that is in place. Anything he does now, I think, would be a tweak or two around that.
Charlie Villanueva is a guy I've liked since his UConn days, though I'm not sure Mullin or Nelson are big fans. I know Rod Higgins wasn't--of course, he's not the Warriors' GM anymore. I'd predict that Villanueva won't be part of any deal to Charlotte.
I'd guess the Warriors are happy to listen to offers on Pietrus, who remains a commodity around the league--as I've said often, I don't understand why Miami, Toronto and other teams like him so much, but maybe that's what's makes them Miami and Toronto.
Harrington is always a trade possibility, especially with Brandan Wright behind him. But that's a big piece of chemistry with Baron and Jackson, so I don't know that the Warriors can get enough for Al to make up for pissing off Baron and SJax. Don't see Mullin trading Monta Ellis, who does have value. No way on Biedrins.
Plus, any move like that might bump up the salary structure, especially if you add in one of their two trade exceptions, and I don't see the Warriors going into luxury tax for anything short of KG. Who won't be traded, sources close to sanity tell me.
Basically... What the Warriors need is of maximum value on the trade market--an active, rebounding and scoring big man. Easy! No problem! Three for a nickel! Oops: Not many of those out there. Very difficult to get. And what Mullin has to trade is... not that much. So I'm not expecting any massive moves. If C.J. Watson can handle the back-up point--and I think he's already better than old Gary Payton--then maybe not much to do at all.
Golden State of Mind: The Warriors went from one of the League's worst road teams to one of the best in under a year. Who gets the credit?
Tim Kawakami: OK, first off, it was just pathetic that they were so bad on the road before March last season. They lost at Atlanta, at Charlotte, at the Clippers all the time. A team with Baron Davis playing and Don Nelson coaching ought not to do that... Just terrible. So I don't know if they deserve kudos for turning that around (so far) this season as much as Warriors fans should be wondering what the hell was happening last year.
But to be fair, the Warriors (so far) have turned into one of the six or seven best road teams in the NBA--and really, from the end of last season, maybe they're one of the three or four best road teams.
Why? Stephen Jackson. That's my fast answer. He's your perfect player for NBA road success--usually plays great defense, which means the home team's best offensive player usually doesn't go off (that's gigantic for road teams); he takes and makes huge shots in the fourth quarter; and he instills his teammates--mostly Baron--with the fire to keep fighting through most difficult situations, up to and including Jackson's frequent horrid shooting starts. OK, that last Portland game wouldn't be a part of my argument, I realize.
Dunleavy and Murphy would be my two best examples for road collapse--they like it when things are easy and often go away when things are tough. Jackson, in my view, is the opposite. The Warriors are better being the opposite.
Here's a look back at some of the other Q&A's we've done with Tim:
- Pre-2007 NBA Draft Q&A w/ Tim Kawakami (6/26/07)
- Round 2 Playoff Q&A w/ Tim Kawakami 5/7/07: Part I | Part II
- GSoM Playoff Q&A with Tim Kawakami 04/20/07: Part I | Part II
- GSoM Q&A with Tim Kawakami 11/15/06: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V
- Golden State of Mind Q&A with Tim Kawakami: Part I | Part II
Stay tuned for the rest of our interview with Tim!
Do you think the Warriors are done dealing this season? Who do you give the credit to for the Warriors road record turnaround?