Over the past 2 weeks, there has been plenty of NBA activity: trades, free agent signings, players moving around the league. And while the rich have gotten richer (the most improved teams are the perennially deep-into-the-playoffs teams), the league has divided into "haves and have-nots"and our beloved Ws have been watching from the sidelines.
But not to worry, the team website counters. They say, and I kid you not, as I quote verbatim: "It may be July, but the Warriors have been plenty busy...from the 2009 NBA draft... [Drum roll, please - its worth waiting for this one] to Warrior Girl Tryouts, the organization has experienced a bevy of activity."
No, please, pick yourself off the floor, stop laughing and catch your breath.
I say this because our beloved front office crew proved yesterday they are after more than a better dance routine. While they sat idly while Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Hedo Turkoglu, Shaq, Tyson Chandler, Andre Miller, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Richard Jefferson, Sheed, Antonio McDyess, Brandon Bass, Mike Miller, Trevor Ariza, Ron Artest, Channing Frye all found new homes, the Ws showed they mean business on Wednesday. They made a trade.
They acquired Toronto's hotly pursued Devean George. And all they had to give up was Marco Belinelli, the 18th overall '07 pick. And here comes the really good news: Toronto is picking up most of George's $1.6mm salary next year.
Why, you might ask, is that really good news? Well, lets assume you own an NBA team in the Bay Area. And lets assume that you have well documented and publicly known IRS problems and personal cash flow issues. And lets say that there was a salary cap and luxury tax system in place where, if your NBA team is below the cap, you get your pro rata cash distribution of other owners' luxury tax payments. Hmmm...
So you dump a player making $10mm a year for a couple of players who wont be on the team much longer. Really helpful. But you could use a little more. So you speak to the coach and your buddy, the team president, and ask: how can we trim the payroll more without scaring away the fans?
Well, you are told, we have a logjam at the 2 guard position, 6 guys who will fight for minutes - Jax, Morrow, Monta, Curry, Azebuke, Belinelli. Marco wont see a lot of playing time - he's not in the coach's fave 5. We can dump him and save a couple of scheckles. Lets find sometime who will take him and also eat the salary of the player we get in return.
Viola! Its done.
Never mind 2 years ago we were very high on our first round pick. Terrific shooter, can drive to the hoop, slick passer, great NBA potential, a vital piece of our future.
And we get to cement our position among the "have-nots." All so easy.
Are we, the fans, disappointed? Well, the team still has alot of potential - Randolph is developing into a legit NBA star. Morrow is proving he belongs, can stretch the floor and perhaps lead the league in 3s shooting again. Monta and Jax are healthy. Curry might contribute, despite shooting 38% in the Vegas league against wannabes. And maybe this is the year Brandon Wright shows he is an NBA player deserving of 30+ minutes/game.
And, I believe the trading isnt done. Here is a prediction: In late August, when Speedy Claxton is available to be moved, The Ws trade for Carlos Boozer.
Whoa, you say. Wait just a cotton picking minute. This might make the team better. And Boozer is highly paid. How does that jive with the salary dumping, penny pinching Ws ownership? Its a short term / long term thing. Here's the deal:
They give up Claxton, Andre Biedrins, maybe Brandon Wright, maybe a #1 pick.
Looks exciting. Is it good? For the Jazz, its terrific. They get rid of someone who is leaving in a year, carries a huge salary and already has a very promising replacement. In return, the Jazz get a legit low post center who is quick, can move, score and rebound, and fits well in their motion offense. He is signed long term. Maybe their missing piece to make a serious run at the championship.
The Ws? They get Boozer. A terrific player, no doubt, even if he is sometimes accused of not playing defense (and who on the Ws roster isnt in that boat?). But he is on loan for 1 year, and that's the beauty for the ownership - Boozer's $13mm salary comes off the books after this season, and the Ws ownership get out from under Biedrin's 5 year, $50mm contract.
The Ws lose their only legit center and leading rebounder on a team starved for rebounding.
And, us? The fans? Tantalized for one more season of almost making the playoffs. Just a thought....
Until next time....