Speculation about potential trades picked up earlier this week with Zach Lowe’s report that the Warriors inquired about the availability of Avery Bradley. Tim Kawakami had previously tossed Marco Belinelli’s name out there as a potential option, as described in more depth by our own Patrick Murray. Prior to that, both Patrick McCaw and JaVale McGee were names that people had tossed around as trade options.
And all that was before the Warriors’ ugly loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Tuesday night — their third loss in four games.
Tim Kawakami of The Athletic tweeted on Tuesday night that the recent slump leading up to the deadline might “nudge them to make some kind of move...This is another push.” Monte Poole of NBC Bay Area wrote an article Tuesday night about how JaVale McGee was prepared to join another team if he was moved; he wrote a separate article about the Warriors reeling and said that a trade should be expected.
This is where the GM earns his salary. He has to find the right balance, a way to act but not overreact. A way to add someone who will be excited to join the Warriors without disrupting the core of the team that over the past three regular seasons has 207 games -- the most of any team in such a span.
Expect a deal, probably not seismic but a deal nonetheless. The Warriors’ front office is both restless and ambitious.
So what happened? Perhaps a few things.
The Warriors aren’t ready to give up on Patrick McCaw
First, Patrick McCaw was assumed to be the guy they’d flip as his upside is still unclear and he’ll be a free agent this summer that some team could get a head start on signing if they wished. However, the biggest sign that the team was not willing to give up on McCaw was probably deciding to assign him to Santa Cruz — put simply, you don’t assign someone to develop if you’re trying to boost their trade value.
Note: McCaw volunteering to play a few games in Santa Cruz and the Warriors OK'ing it also is a clue that neither side expects him to be traded. At this point, they probably couldn't get value back, anyway.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 7, 2018
They didn’t want to give up their first round pick
There’s a legitimate question about how valuable the Warriors’ first round pick is in the trade market -- it will certainly be at or near the end of the first round again and, as their own recent draft history in that range demonstrates, that’s a crap shoot. So could they have found a deal for a guy like McCaw or McGee by dangling the first round pick? Maybe, but Kawakami did make the point yesterday that they don’t want to move the pick.
Doesn't sound like the Warriors have much brewing right now before tomorrow's trade deadline. They don't want to move their first-round pick and aren't ready to give up on Patrick McCaw. But it only takes one phone call...— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) February 7, 2018
They just don’t have much of value to trade
In the end, what this probably comes down to is that the Warriors don’t have a whole lot of value to trade and teams aren’t just going to willingly help them for the sake of doing so. The failed attempt to acquire Bradley was probably the best illustration of this: McCaw’s contract simply wasn’t enough, the Clippers don’t need a veteran like McGee or Nick Young, the combination of Andre Iguodala’s season-long shooting slump with his larger contract probably just isn’t very appealing to people, and Shaun Livingston (who could have been traded straight up for Bradley) probably isn’t all that attractive to a team without three of the best scorers of all-time on the roster.
Other than that group, you have an All-Star core with championship experience, small contract players with little experience, and a veteran on the verge of retirement.
A trade that actually helped just would’ve been hard to pull off.
What about the buyout market?
Another reason for not making a trade might have been that the buyout market looks more attractive.
There are already rumors about the Warriors having interest in guys like Channing Frye or Joe Johnson, as Patrick Murray described earlier today. So there’s still room for excitement, just not quite the type of excitement that the Cleveland Cavaliers had in trading an entire rotation of players today.
And, honestly, I’d rather be rooting for a contender in that position than one that needed to totally overhaul their team and bring in four new players — let’s be grateful for the guys we have.