Why am I posting a rebuttal to another blog here? Because Adam Lauridsen is still listed as a GSoM front-page writer and the Merc's blog system isn't set up to handle the length of argument I want to write.
That said, I haven't seen this type of post here before, so I am a bit leery of posting it. I'm also not sure if this violates some unwritten blogger etiquette, if so, I apologize and I'll be happy to delete it.
The Warriors are fond of repeating their mistakes. The rumored trade for Amare Stoudemire would be just another example of the team's lack of creativity when it comes to poor decision making. Last summer Baron Davis defected to LA and left the team desperate to land a big name player. Arenas and Brand said no to Cohan's millions, but Corey Maggette said yes.
What do the proposed Stoudemire trade, Baron Davis leaving and the Maggette singing all have in common? If you answered "not much", you'd be correct. Lauridsen disagrees . . .
Although the Stoudemire extension and trade wouldn't be as big a mistake as the Maggette signing, there are plenty of less-than-flattering comparisons to consider when evaluating the move.
I don't actually accept that the Maggete singing was a mistake. He's an incredible scorer, rebounds decently and can play defense when motivated (read: like most NBA defenders). He's great in his sixth-man role. The salary is probably a bit high, but not unmovable, especially in a year or two (see Crawford, Dunleavy & Murphy).
Team needs - Last summer the Warriors needed a replacement point guard, a real power forward and improved defense. Corey Maggette answered none of these needs. Arguably, he made them all worse - killing ball movement, giving Nellie a smaller mismatch option at PF that displaced Randolph and Wright in the rotation, and playing defense only Jamal Crawford could love.
The Warriors offered Arenas and Brand huge contracts, those were the best "replacement point guard" and "real power forward" available on the market. It's not like they didn't try to address those needs. They also had two lottery picks with upside in Wright and Randolph at the PF.
The one true statement is that he killed ball movement when he was in the game and starting, which was 19 games. Off the bench, he's asked to score. How games did he start at PF? 9. Why was he starting at PF? Because the team's options were Wright, who started when healthy and giving effort, an out-of-control, insubordinate and turnover-prone Randolph and Turiaf who was the only back-up center. That was actually a good spot to use Maggette since he did have the mismatch on offense and, when your PF has a mismatch on offense, you don't want him to pass unless a double-team comes. I fail to see the error in judgment here. Maggette actually gave his best defensive effort when at PF which is in no reasonable way comparable to the complete absence of defensive effort from Crawford. That's just a dishonest comparison.
This summer, we've solved our power forward issues with Randolph's development and have a potential point guard fix in Curry, but still need to improve dramatically our team defense. Stoudemire does nothing to solve our defensive problems - and like Maggette, probably makes things work [sic].
Correction: Don Nelson and Anthony Randolph solved "our" power forward issues with Randolph's development. I make this point here because he criticizes Nelson throughout without giving him credit for sitting Randolph, sometimes in favor of Maggette, until he practiced hard and played under control. If Randolph readily admits this was the best thing for him, why is it so hard for the media? Randolph has done his part by reportedly working like a madman in the gym.
As far as defense goes, you can play Stodumire along side Turiaf or Randolph which gives you one good 6-10 defensive player with an elite offensive player who can block shots. With Randolph, you get the rebounding too. Does Lauridsen want Emeka Okafor to play along side of Turiaf or Randolph? What availible player would be a better fit?
If Nelson plays him out of position at center, we lose our best remaining defensive player in Turiaf. If Nelson plays him at his true position, power forward, we lose minutes for the only reason most people still care about this franchise, Anthony Randolph.
Didn't Phoenix play him primarily at center for when they were a really good team, playing a knock-off of Nellie-ball? He's almost assuredly going to be the starting center here if he comes. There is absolutely no reason that he can't play along side Randolph or Turiaf. This is a non-argument supported by nothing.
You can argue we have a need for low post scoring - although Nelson's teams have always favored slashing and jump shooting over post offense and have made no effort to develop their post players. Assuming we have such a need, it's not clear that Amare would meet it all that well given his gradually increasing reliance on his jump shot (don't take my word for it - check out 82games.com, which lists 55% of Amare's shots as jumpers). Most of Amare's inside points come from put-backs and dump-off passes - two areas Biedrins and Randolph had adequately covered last season. The end result, as with Maggette, is a player that duplicates our current strengths while potentially making our weaknesses even worse.
This paragraph is illogical. First, It starts out criticizing Stodumire for taking too many jump shots, which is not a bad thing considering his high FG%. The other advantage to an efficient, jump-shooting center is that the opposing center must come away from the basket to guard him which opens up the lane for drivers like Monte, Bukie and the dreaded Maggette.
Then he says that Stodumire duplicates what Biedrins and Randolph bring to the table as an inside scorer. Biedrins would leave in every Stodumire trade scenario so what's wrong with replacing his high-efficiency inside game and adding the jump-shooting dimension. It's not duplication if Biedrins isn't here to be duplicated. Also, it apparently isn't duplication if it is Biedrins and Randolph playing together with the same inside game but it is with Stodumire.
Talent displacement - If we learned one thing from the 08-09 season, it was that Nelson would go to great lengths to play his veterans ahead of Randolph, Wright, and even Biedrins in the low post. For the first two-thirds of the season we saw Maggette, Azubuike and even Jackson on occasion at power forward. The results were rarely impressive, but Nelson repeatedly returned to his one big man line-up. Adding Maggette to the line-up didn't occur in a vacuum. His addition caused a minute squeeze, with the players arguably in the best position to help the Warriors in the future losing out.
Again, Wright started when he was giving effort and healthy. Randolph wasn't ready to play (see above) and Andris played a career-high 30 minutes per game. Turiaf also set a career-high in minutes. Jackson started 10 games at PF, Buike 6 (seems like it was more). Again, Maggette started all of 9 games at PF so I'm not sure what "great lengths" Nelson went to other than to assess the situation and try different things to see if they would work.
With Amare, Nelson would gain a veteran big who can score. The team wouldn't be giving him max money to ride the bench, so I'd expect his minutes to be heavy (and considerably greater than Andris' playing time last year). With Stoudemire pulling major minutes at center, however, we have no reason to believe Nelson would suddenly back away from his one big man approach.
He'd start and center and Nelson would likely start Randolph next to him. How is that bad?
Maggette, Azubuike and Jackson would still be on the team. We've added two guards - Law and Curry - who are likely to see time in the rotation.
Versatility and flexibility aren't bad things. Nelson will play Maggette and Jackson. If there aren't enough minutes to be had at the 2 and 3 for everyone, then Azubuike will likely be the odd man out. I also don't see a problem with Maggette backing up the 4 for specific matchups. Law could be the 12th man on this team, so listing him as a factor in the Amare argument is kind of a reach.
It's not at all hard to imagine a Stoudemire-led team where Randolph and Turiaf are getting fewer minutes than they did to close the 08-09 season.
It's not hard to imagine a lot of things, but it is hard to make an argument as to what would cause this to happen.
Under this reading of Nelson's habits, the Stoudemire move doesn't help us become a more balanced team. It only helps Nelson roll out a more offensively potent small-ball line-up. Of course, that approach may make the Warriors a better team than they were in 08-09 (setting the bar low here), but the pro-Amare partisans out there should consider the possibility that the trade could enable Nelson in his small ball tendencies and result in Randolph once again spending heavy minutes on the bench.
How is starting Stodumire at center and Randolph at PF with 6-8 Jackson at SF or SG "small ball"? How did Randolph end up on the bench?
There are sections on "ball-movement" and "team chemistry", which I'm going to skip do to the length of this and because I don't disagree with the particulars but I disagree with the premises and the conclusions which can't really be effectively argued as both sides of the discussion would be heavily rooted in speculation.
Injury history - Corey Maggette also came to the Warriors with a reputation for being fragile. Once again, he lived up to his history in the league with an assortment of injuries keeping him out of 31 games. Stoudemire eventually bounced back from the micro-fracture surgery, but racked up another potentially chronic and career threatening injury last year with his detached retina. Micro-fracture surgery has improved since the days of Jamal Mashburn and Alan Houston, but there's still considerable risk of re-injuring the knee. Zach Randolph, former poster boy for microfracutre recovery, missed extended time this season with soreness in his left knee, the same one that was operated on in 2005. Since the surgery is relatively new, there's simply not much information on how a repaired knee will hold up through the roughly 400 games we'd be signing Amare to play on a five-year contract. There are injury risks with all players. Amare for 60 games a season is a lot better than many players for 82, but as with Maggette we'd need to go into the contract with our eyes open regarding the potentially catastrophic risks.
I don't think anyone is arguing that's not a risk. It's a decent argument against trading for him although I doubt most of us know the long-term prognosis for a detached retina and the newer microfracture surgery.
Ultimately, the Amare trade is a closer call than the Maggette signing because Stoudemire is a better player. Just as the Warriors were arguably better this season with Maggette getting some minutes than if they hadn't had his production at all, the Warriors with Amare should win a few more games in the immediate future than if they didn't have him. But fixating on small gains in the immediate future is exactly the type of short-sighted reasoning that has led Cohan and company into the same mess year after year.
I'm not entirely sure how this trade, barring injury, doesn't set this team up for a good 3-4 year run, considering the fact that they'd have to extend Amare at least 3 years past his option. The rest of the team is under contract or, at worst, RFAs over that span. So how far long-term should the Warriors be thinking?
Swapping Biedrins for Stoudemire doesn't help the Warriors in the areas the areas of most significant need (point guard play, defense), poses a significant risk of stifling the "internal development" we usually hear so much about during the off-season, doesn't get us a stand-alone star capable of elevating the play of his teammates (Amare has only won with Nash, Marion or Shaq playing leading roles), and will kill our flexibility for the long-term to make a move if/when a real difference maker, addressing our real needs, becomes available.
Defense is the same issue with or without Amare. The Warriors retain their best two interior defenders in Turiaf and Randolph so it doesn't hurt them that much. They drafted a point guard and traded for another one so that area has been reasonably addressed. I'm not sure which "real difference-maker" he's expecting to come along but I'd rather the team take a shot with that team rather than sitting on cap flexibility just in case "real difference maker" becomes available. That doesn't sound like an actual strategy.
Warriors fans are understandably suspicious of being patient, given our history of waiting only to get nothing in return. The roster as it stands today, however, has more young talent locked up for the foreseeable future than any Warriors' squad since RUN-TMC and Webber. To my eyes, that talent simply needs this year (and probably a new coach) to turn the corner into a perennial playoff threat.
Where did the "new coach" shot come from? You mean the only good coach this team has had in 20 years? What better coach is out there and why would he be a better fit for this roster, with or without the trade? What other available coach would have stood up to Randolph and produced the best resolution for everyone involved? That's just a cheap-shot that makes no sense. How is it not clear what's been happening here? Do people think the team went from 34 wins to 42 to 48 to rebuilding for 1 year (completely improvised since Baron and Monta were supposed to be there) to now when we see a really good roster taking shape? Do people think this is a coincidence? How about the last time Neslon was here? Or when he took an abysmal Dallas team from garbage to an elite team? It's time to give Nelson some credit for some of the good things he's done. Calling for his replacement at this point is misguided at best.
The decision to blow this team apart for a questionable win-now acquisition like Stoudemire simply because we're tired of being patient is precisely the type of move we've bemoaned in the past and blamed for keeping the franchise from becoming a consistent winner. Simply because the team needs change does not mean that any change is in the team's long-term interests. We made that mistake with Corey Maggette - and we're about to make it again.
Trading your starting center for an arguably better starting center and throwing in your backup PF and 5th guard is not "blowing up the team". With or without the trade, the Warriors should be a pretty good team this year and even better over the next 3 years. That's long-term enough for me.