June 9, 1984. A historic day in Golden State Warriors history.
Everyone remembers exactly where they were. Except me because I wasn’t born yet, but don’t let that ruin this narrative.
June 9, 1984, when the Warriors traded for Jerome Whitehead.
Whitehead averaged 13.0 points per game in his first year with the Warriors, before somehow falling to 3.9 the ensuing season, but that’s not the point.
On June 9, 1984, the Warriors traded for Whitehead, who was then with the San Diego Clippers. In the 35 years since, the teams haven’t made a single trade with each other.
Would Bob Myers, Steve Kerr, and Joe Lacob be willing to break that streak and trade with the now Los Angeles Clippers?
First, let’s be clear: The Warriors lack of trading with the Clippers isn’t due to a hatred between the two teams - their semi-rivalry wasn’t developed until the last decade. It’s a combination of luck, trades not being super common, and teams being less likely to trade within their own division.
But it’s worth asking now if the two teams would engage in a dance together. It’s worth asking because, if they would, the pieces exist to create some traction.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Clippers are actively seeking out trades to put their team in better position heading into the postseason. Primarily, the Clippers are looking for more wings, and more size in the middle.
The Clippers, even after the off-season of their dreams, are exploring the trade market for dependable size as well as potential wing depth in advance of the Feb. 6 trade deadline, league sources say— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 23, 2020
Doesn't guarantee that they'll make a deal, of course, but the Clippers are said to be concerned about their lack of muscle up front compared to the Lakers' length as well as the ongoing health issues Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are battling— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 23, 2020
Ahhh. Well. In the immortal words of Russell Westbrook, isn’t that interesting? That sure looks a lot like what the Warriors have to offer.
Golden State has not one, but two intriguing wings they’re surely willing to listen to phone calls on. Alec Burks has played well enough (16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game), that the Warriors may not be able to afford him this summer. He’s endeared himself to nearly every playoff team along the way.
Glenn Robinson III hasn’t been quite at Burks level, but 12.2 points per game on 39.3% shooting from deep is just what the doctor orders for playoff-bound rosters.
And to top it all off, the Warriors have a very tall and athletic center in Willie Cauley-Stein. I’m not sure I’d classify the slender Cauley-Stein as providing muscle up front, as Stein’s tweet alludes to, but he certainly provides an element that could be important against players like JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard on the Clippers
cross same-town rival. And if the Clippers opt to trade away Montrezl Harrell - not outside the realm of possibility, given his playoff issues on defense, and the large contract he’ll earn this summer - that need for a center could be compounded.
But would either side be interested?
The Warriors and Clippers both have visions of rekindling their 2014 rivalry in 2021, except this time in the Conference Finals instead of the first round. Would either team make a move that could potentially improve the other for that showdown? And after the Clippers finally took the Warriors throne atop the land of NBA headline-grabbers, would Lacob be willing to aid them in turning that publicity into rings? Especially when that publicity centers around Kawhi Leonard, who ruthlessly stepped over the Warriors in the NBA Finals just seven months ago?
It might not go over well with Warriors fans, but there is something to be said for doing whatever is in your team’s best interest, and moving forward confidently. Make yourself better - worry about the opponents later.
Furthermore, if the Warriors have their sights set on the very faint hope of luring Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Bay Area, it would behoove them to do whatever they can to keep the Milwaukee Bucks from winning a championship. Building up the Clippers would aid in that mission, however #LightYears thinking it may be.
But then again, would the Clippers be amenable, knowing good and well that Golden State is repowering for next season? And would Jerry West be okay with that?
In all likelihood, the Warriors and Clippers won’t make a trade, which means we may never know if they would. But it sure would be noteworthy.