Hey, the Warriors are in good shape! Enjoy it while you can, right? No! I am obligated to look deep into the ambiguous future and make errant predictions. Don't judge me, it's a force of habit, what with being a Warriors fan and it being 17 games into the season. By now, we've usually lost 12+ games and at least three cameramen have been knocked out by errant Andris Biedrins free throws. I'm not gonna stop now.
First of all, our target year is gonna be the 2014/2015 season (so really 2015, when most of the season is, but the free agency of that season is in the summer of 2014). Got your psychological bearings down? For reference, we're in year 6 of the Obama experiment, Stephen Curry is celebrating his 26th birthday, and the entire current starting lineup of the Lakers are collectively complaining about the old whippersnappers on their lawn. Alright, so who is on our books come the end of the 2014 season (not 2015 now! Just think about what 2k game it would be called)? Lee, Curry, Klay, Barnes, Ezeli and Green. Don't believe me, take a gander yourself: http://hoopshype.com/salaries/golden_state.htm . Doesn't sound like a lot, does it? It also sounds like four of those guys are on rookie contracts, doesn't it (it does)? So what does that mean for us? Well, it means we're on the books for 25 million, a whopping 50 million dropoff from 2014.
Gentlemen (and ladies...call me!). We are players in free agency. Now I'm not suggesting we go out and court Lebron James in 2015, because (hopefully) Klay and Barnes will be looking to break bank at the end of their contracts. But seriously, six players on the books! We're going to need get someone in free agency, if only to fill out an 8 man roster and not forfeit everything. Well, good news. Our current core has some players I'd be interested in returning. First, let's break down the long term projections for all these guys, including some quintessential homer optimism (hey, I ain't paid to do this).
- Richard Jefferson: It's kinda like he and Beans is our version of Dumb and Dumber--Rich and Richer. It kinda sucks that one of a handful fo missteps R.C. Buford made in the last decade as GM of the Spurs ends up costing us (well, signing RJ only comes second to trading Ezeli away). A guy who relied on his athleticism now in his mid-30s? Happy retirement! (He's gone at the end of 2014) 11 mil off the books.
- Goose: In the post-'OMG HE MADE TWO FREETHROWS' glory, i half-jokingly minted #setthegooseloose on GSOM. Therein dies the last whimpering glimmer of hope for Goose as a legit NBA player. He'll serve his purpose as the world's tallest and most expensive paperweight until 2014. Hey, maybe Webster's will pay him royalties for using his picture next to their definition of 'stiff'. Not like he needs it. As we've all mentally languished over for the past 24 months, it's 9 million off the books.
- Jarrett Jack: It's not that he's bad, as is the case with RJ and Beans. It's that he's a journeyman by nature, and he's outplaying his 5.5 million dollar contract as is. Like resident livewire Nate Robinson before him, he'll move on without much fanfare. He's a shotfirst point guard who will be semi-overpaid (think JJ Barea) elsewhere.
- Jeremy Tyler: Hey, he gave it a shot. It's closer I'll ever come to playing in the NBA.
The Sorta Fits in With the Big Picturers:
- Brandon Rush: He's good now, but reached in all likelihood has reached his ceiling. Not to mention his prime and our core's prime will not really overlap that much. Besides outside shooting, I don't see what he brings to the table that Kent Bazemore doesn't, and Baze is cheaper and younger. If he doesn't face a setback because of his game semi-relying on athleticism and having both his ACL's torn now, I believe he'll outplay his contract and depart from the Golden State along with the rest of the mass exodus in 2014.
- Carl Landry: An identical contract to Rush's, and nearly the same situation. His age is awkwardly stationed so he and our core's primes will never match. His lack of defense and the fact that I think we could find a better backup 4 who rebounds better makes him slightly dispensable. The only thing we'll miss is his grit and his low post scoring. He and Rush combine for 8 mil (Hey! We can resign Biedrins!) off in 2014.
- Charles Jenkins: Jenkonit actually comes off in 2013, same with Jack. One of them has to come back, (unless a better backup becomes apparent, which I doubt), and I like Jenk's game better, so I'll favor him. While he'll never be on my list as 'Don't Trade At All Costs', he'll only get better with his work ethic, he's good for the community as a role model and he doesn't turn to ball over. Boom boom boom, that's the trifecta. Plus he'll come cheaper. Hopefully resigned.
- Kent Bazemore: Hmm. Well, I've seen him play for about 20 seconds last night. See, I can't drop him because that's not fair to him, but I can't resign him cause this is a business. He'll be in the NBA, be it defensive role player or cheerleader (seriously, I saw that sword swing/point to the moon/uppercut thing live, and I was on the ground). Actually, I can't even say he'll be a good defender in the NBA.There's that little known about him. Who is this masked man?
- Andrew Bogut: There could only be one. Seriously, I know he'll be like 30, but defensive centers age like fine wine, especially guys who play a cerebral kind of defense, not jump-higher-than-everyone-else (ahem... McGee). And I'm starting to think, contrary to my earlier post How Much Is a Cursed Center and A Pair of Broken Ankles Worth?, that he may come cheaper than his 14.2 million pricetag is now. Seriously, microfracture surgery is like taboo around the NBA thanks to the 'Curious Case of Greg Oden Not Playing' (in theaters this wednesday!). Ah. The injury. Well, if he doesn't come back that obviously changes everything. My guess? He continues to straddle the line between 'just retire' and 'there's still hope', leaving everyone in an awkward limbo. Screw it, I'm all in.
So? Who's our core?
Good question. Come the 2014/2015 season, who is the go to guy? Any allstars? Good team? Bad Team?
Curry. Steph will be an all star sometimes between now and then, book it. His ankels appear to be good (I was getting ready to start brainstorming a catchy nickname likening him to Oedipus, or wounded-ankle), and he's ballin'. He will be the focal point, and I don't care if the national tv guys call him an 'undersized 2'. The guy can drain a 3 in your face faster than you can utter 'White Chris Webber". He will initiate the offense, gettin' some for himself, settin' up his teammates, and overal just be that 1 we all envision him to be.
Where does everyone else fall? Klay, contrary to everyone's overreaction, is a good shooter. I think the coaching staff will realize how to utilize him in their schemes sometime in 3 years. In that Indiana game, Curry and Klay were both humming along. In that instance, we got a glimpse at their potential. It may have only been for a quarter, or a couple of minutes. But no other team has as good a tandem of pure shooters, and that gives us the advantage everytime we step on the court. Klay may be a volume shooter, but he is damn good at it, and if your best defender is getting crossed over by Curry, and your most athletic wing is getting dunked on by Barnes, odd man out has to chase this guy around.
Barnes--the initiator. Yeah, Curry controls the offense. But this guy breaks down the D better then anyone else on this roster. Curry gets in the lane by craftiness, Barnes by athleticism. He'll be our best perimeter defender, which may or may not be saying much (depends on how Klay utilizes his length). He already has a pretty well rounded offensive game. If he tightens those handles, he could be dangerous, maybe even surpassing Klay as the #2 option. Out of the post, on the perimeter. All day, err'yday.
Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli--doomed to be 'the other guys' from the draft. Ezeli may never be a starting center with them hands o' stone. That's alright--I'm content with a bigger, buffer, athletic version of Omar Asik. As for Green--he could be a stretch 4, a solid plug-in guy, and an all-around basketball mind. Just put him on the court and he can facilitate from the wings. He can rebound and pass above average for a guy of his unique stature.
Lee. He'll be David Lee, doing David Lee things (and not doing things).
Finally, taking a look at the above outline, here's a list of the Free Agent Class of 2014: http://www.hoopsworld.com/2014-nba-free-agents/
Okay, I know some of you may hate me for what I'm about to say, but would it be crazy to try and attack Sacramento for Demarcus Cousins? The Maloofs wouldn't exactly be gleeful at the idea of matching a max contract. How 'bout a starting five of Curry/Klay/Barnes/Green/DMC?
There's just not a lot of firepower in this class. The cap space will still be there in 2015, ( link: http://www.hoopsworld.com/2015-nba-free-agents/ ) so maybe more there? Luc Mbah a Moute would be a nice pickup to solidify our bench.
But the 2015 power forwards is where things get interesting. See, Kevin Love and Lamarcus Aldridge are possible FAs (Love has a PA). Lee is a massive, massive expiring in an economic landscape where huge expirings are all but extinct. Is it so impossible to consider the possibility of dumping Lee and upgrading with Love/Aldridge? Who wouldn't be wooed with the prospects of playing with a top 5 backcourt? Plus a max contract! Beasely would be a good scorer off the bench to plug in. Marc Gasol is also an FA, in case Bogut's gone. Brook Lopez is another P.A. player who could be seduced by a huge contract and a good young core. Glen Davis, who, judging by last night's game, is a surefire first ballot hall of famer, is also a F.A.! A must have pickup!