Like all self-respecting evil empires, the Golden State Warriors have assembled themselves the basketball equivalent of the death star.
But, like all self-respecting evil empires, there remains a tiny imperfection that in the extremely unlikely event it were exploited, could blow the whole thing up.
Why do the baddies keep doing this sort of thing?
For the Warriors this imperfection comes in the form of their wing depth, and in particular the shooting they are currently getting from their reserves.
Nick Young is the best of the bunch but wildly erratic, and doesn’t do much else. While he’s still hitting at a decent clip overall he has been pretty disappointing considering they spent their entire taxpayer mid level exception on him in the summer.
Omri Casspi played well earlier in the season, but has fallen out of the rotation and for some bizarre reason refuses to shoot.
The great hope of the evil empire, Patrick McCaw, looks more like a conflicted Kylo Ren in a crisis of confidence struggling between the light and the dark, than the Kylo Ren fully seized of the opportunity to extinguish family members and mentors to assume power over the entire damn show.
Golden oldies Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala aren’t much help either on this front. Livingston has never been a three point shooter, and the force has currently deserted Iguodala as he’s firing with as much accuracy as some of the empire’s most useless stormtroopers.
So what can the evil empire do to avoid Kyrie Irving turning into Luke Skywalker and blasting the whole damn death star out of the sky?
Bet you weren’t expecting that heading! But Marco Belinelli’s name is out there.
I've tossed Marco Belinelli's name out there, but that one would probably ride heavily on Atlanta GM (and former GSW asst GM) Travis Schlenk's opinion of McCaw and willingness to take back Young to make the money work.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 4, 2018
Tim Kawakami elaborated on his tweet in an article for The Athletic earlier today, but the bottom line is that Belinelli is having a decent season, averaging 11.4 points, and a shade under two rebounds and two assists in around 23 minutes per game.
Apart from being well versed in the ways of the Warriors (at least the equivalent version to the Phantom Menace), he spent a couple years with the San Antonio Spurs, including the 2014 version that won the NBA title in emphatic fashion.
The idea of having someone who already demonstrated that they can be relied upon for 15 minutes a game, and shoot 42% from three, in a title winning playoff run is actually pretty attractive.
With former Warriors front office member Travis Shlenk now in the hotseat in Atlanta, there’s a ready made trade partner who might be tempted to take a flier on McCaw.
The difficulty is the price. Belinelli’s salary this year is $6.606 million. Almost a very evil number. To make the numbers work you’d have to include Young alongside McCaw. A two-for-one swap feels pretty heavy. In an ideal world you’d add another shooting option, and keep some more in reserve.
Plus giving up McCaw for a one year rental feels risky. I may have recently slandered his good name, but he’s still a young player and there is always hope. The Warriors willingness to do this would rest on their internal assessment of how likely he is to recover his form, or whether he is indeed on the Landry Fields trajectory.
So I’m shamelessly pilfering this one from GSoM legend Sleepy Freud, who recently suggested pursuing Tyreke Evans with this year’s first round pick, which is the price that Memphis are asking for.
Kawakami also broke down the reasoning behind a deal for Evans in his article speculating about Warriors options as the trade deadline approaches.
The former Myers client has really started to shoot it well from 3 the last few seasons and has always been able to get his own shot. Is he a bit too much of a dribbler for Kerr’s move-the-ball sensibility? I think Evans might be a solid add to a second unit that is desperate for anybody who can create offense.
The Grizzlies are dumping salaries to try to accrue talent and draft picks — would the Warriors toss in their first-round pick plus McCaw to rent Evans for the stretch run? The Warriors need young players and have traded a lot of their first-round picks over the years (mostly to acquire Andre Iguodala back in 2013), but Evans might be worth it, just for these next four or five months.
Again it’s giving up future value for a short-term rental, but that’s the name of the game here, and Evans is having a very good year averaging 19.5 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and a steal in 31 minutes a game. Oh, and most importantly he’s shooting 39.2% from three-point range.
Hm. Those are basically his best numbers since he finished second in 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year voting to the finest player the evil empire has ever seen. Wait, what?! God damn. This sort of nonsense is why evil empires are rarely democracies.
Anyway, again the main barrier is the money. Evans is on $3.29 million. As the Warriors are over the cap they can only take back 125% of the outgoing salary. Using Javale McGee, for example, would not quite do it. His salary is around $2.5 million, which means we could take back $3.125 million if my math is correct. So we’d have to add something.
Damian Jones might do it, but then you’re giving up two future assets and possibly creating another imperfection in the death star by weakening the front court depth.
Tricky, but Evans is really balling out this year so it’s not a bad option.
The McGee option
This option looked a bit more attractive a month ago, but with Jordan Bell out, McGee has got some minutes and done reasonably well. So again it’s a bit of a risk to create the space without knowing who might be out there.
If I had to hazard a guess I’d expect the Warriors to mainly stand pat. It might be a better plan to wait until guys start hitting the buyout market and then create the space by buying out McGee if there’s someone who could actually plug the gaps.
While it adds a bit of cost as the Warriors would have to pay McGee’s salary as well as any new arrival, who’s going to quibble over a few dollars to ensure the evil empire stays on top?