It's really easy to get lost in all of the Dwight Howard rumors floating around. Whenever a top 5 player in the league could potentially come to your team, that's something that creates headlines and controversy. Getting Howard might be a dream scenario, though - we almost certainly have to gut the team, and even then, Dwight is very unlikely to stay in the Bay Area - especially if we can't win with him. Therefore, we might do best to look elsewhere.
One thing is clear, though; it's time to make a change. Monta Ellis has always been an immensely talented offensive player, but he is a volume scorer and does not have the size to guard NBA 2s. When combined with a slightly undersized point guard and a bad defensive team, he turns from a concern on defense to a full-blown disaster. It's time for him and the Warriors to split up. The question is, who can we get for Monta? Many teams are in the shooting guard market, among them the Bulls and Magic, but neither are particularly good trade fits (though we could probably work out something for Luol Deng). Another team that might be in the market is the Minnesota Timberwolves, and I'm a big fan of Nikola Pekovic, so perhaps something can be worked out there. But a more realistic option would be the New Orleans Hornets, who are shopping center Chris Kaman.
Bradford Doolitle of Basketball Prospectus brought up the idea in a story for ESPN recently, but the article is insider protected, so I'll reproduce the part involving the Warriors.
The problem: Let's face it, the Warriors are building for the future. Every year, Monta Ellis is rumored to be on the trade market and it's only gotten worse since Golden State drafted Stephen Curry. This might be the year Ellis finally goes. Curry is having a fabulous season, but still has to defer to Ellis far too often. Meanwhile, the Warriors' defense is as poor as ever. The Curry-Ellis combination is undersized on the perimeter and they collectively do a poor job of running opposing shooters off the 3-point line. The team has been better defensively with rookie Klay Thompson playing the two and he's clearly the future at that position. Meanwhile, the Warriors are still searching for a center who can serve as the defensive anchor coach Mark Jackson needs so desperately.
The fix: Dwight Howard would fix everything, but more realistic is sending Ellis to New Orleans for Chris Kaman. This trade gives the Warriors a half-season to see if Kaman can be the center they've been looking for. If so, they'd have the best financial position to retain him when his contract expires after the season. If not, let him walk and clear cap space to go after a max-contract free agent. Meanwhile, they've broken up an unworkable backcourt. It's not a good trade talent-for-talent, but it would create flexibility. For the Hornets, this would be merely a case of adding talent. Ellis would become their top scorer in case Eric Gordon doesn't hang around for the long term.
Let's take a look at Chris Kaman, then, shall we? The 7'0", 265 pound center is having an off year, but is normally one of the better centers in the league. He's a solid defender, a good rebounder, and a skilled, ambidextrous finisher around the basket with range out to 18 feet. His TS% consistently hovers around 50-52%, which is solid for a big man, but this year, it is down to only 44.6% - however, since this is only a one-year trend, he is likely to revert to somewhere closer to his career norms. He isn't particularly young, going on 30, but he is a quality center who would give us production far better than Andris Biedrins can provide, and who we would be buying low on. More importantly, though, his contract expires at the end of this season. This gives us a lot of financial flexibility if we make this trade as we will have plenty of room to sign a max-contract free agent, or alternatively to bring back Kaman if we like what he provides.
That said, as Doolittle notes, it is a bit of a talent mismatch. Ellis is simply a better basketball player than Kaman, and is younger. Let's try to kill two birds with one stone then: Ellis + Biedrins for Kaman + Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu is a prospect who isn't likely to ever make it as a starter or even a quality reserve, but the only reason he's in the trade is to allow us to dump Biedrins and make the salary work out. The Hornets, who are also rebuilding, might not want to take Biedrins' contract under any circumstance, though, so they might not take that trade - if so, Ellis for Kaman is perfectly acceptable to me, and perhaps we could even get the Hornets to throw in a second round pick, though again, this is unlikely as they are also rebuilding.
The Warriors need to get rid of Monta Ellis and open up the 2 to Klay Thompson. We have a chance to do that, possibly dump Andris Biedrins in the process, and get a quality center who gives us a ton of financial flexibility going forward. And while it probably makes us a worse team right now, that's not altogether a bad thing, as we need the 7th pick or higher to even have a first round pick this year. I say that we should jump on this opportunity and call the Hornets right now.
What should the Warriors do at the trade deadline?
Nothing (31 votes)
Trade for Chris Kaman (35 votes)
Trade for young players like Nikola Pekovic (55 votes)
Trade for established stars like Pau Gasol or Luol Deng (47 votes)
DWIGHT HOWARD OR BUST BABY (104 votes)
I don't care, just do something (81 votes)
353 total votes