We are one week from the NBA’s trade deadline for the 2022-23 season, the last moment teams can make deals to make or break their playoff rosters. And just like most Golden State Warriors trade deadlines in the Bob Myers era, the odds are that they won’t make much of a move. They’re far more likely to promote a two-way player like Anthony Lamb to the roster than bring in reinforcements.
The “two timelines’ construction of the roster has left a roster split between high-priced veterans in their thirties and low-priced young players just out of their teens. That means that even if the heavily-taxed Warriors wanted to add another veteran, they don’t have a lot of useful contracts for matching salaries.
There’s really just one useful contract for that purpose: James Wiseman’s $9.6 million deal. It goes up to $12.1 million for 2023-24, and at this point, Wiseman can’t even get on the court for the Warriors, due to injury and roster fit issues - it’s hard to play Wiseman with other non-shooting big men like Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.
Still, there’s no indication that the Warriors are ready to give up on the No. 2 pick from the 2020 draft, even though he’s played only 58 games in his three-year career. Wiseman’s trade value couldn’t be lower. Compounding the difficulty is that it’s unlikely Wiseman can contribute to a contender, and many rebuilding teams that would take a flyer on him already have centers: Houston has Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Junior, Orlando has Bol Bol, Mo Bamba, and Wendell Carter Jr., Oklahoma City has Chet Holmgren returning next year, and the Detroit Pistons drafted Jalen Duren last year, while already having Isaiah Stewart.
Oh, and all the tanking teams are also targeting a French center named Victor Wembanyama, who may not be a classic back-to-basket center, but he is 7’2”.
Who matches up? We see three trade partners, and none are exciting. First is the San Antonio Spurs, who are likely moving center Jakob Poeltl before he becomes a free agent. They also have a surplus of first-round picks, which if included, would make dumping Wiseman for a wing player like Josh Richardson more palatable.
There’s the Charlotte Hornets, who haven’t found a big man pairing for LaMelo Ball yet. Their roster is in flux, with Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington facing uncertain futures with the Hornets. A deal for Washington, a restricted free agent this summer, would work in terms of matching salaries, but would Charlotte want to block this year’s No. 15 pick, Mark Williams, already? The salaries of Mason Plumlee or Kelly Oubre Jr. might work, but that possibility is too depressing to consider.
Finally, there’s the Washington Wizards, who seem on the brink of blowing up their roster, and lack a center of the future. The problem comes from what the Warriors would get back. Delon Wright and a draft pick? That would help the Dubs more than you’d expect, but again feels like too little for Wiseman.
How much can the Warriors expect to improve this regular season? They’re sitting at 26-25, facing a road game against Western Conference leaders the Denver Nuggets where they’ll likely be missing three starters.
Klay Thompson is out tonight in Denver on the second night of a back-to-back. Warriors currently listing Steph Curry (left shoulder soreness) and Draymond Green (right foot soreness) as questionable. Both played heavy minutes vs Wolves last night.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 2, 2023
With 31 games to go, the odds on the Warriors are actually encouraging. The over/under on their season wins is 44.5, with a slight lean towards the under (Over is +105, Under is -130). That would look disappointing at the season’s start, but the oddsmakers are effectively predicting that Golden State goes 18-13 or 19-12 to close the season, which is a 48-50-win pace.
Denver is an overwhelming favorite to grab the West’s top seed, at -800, with the Memphis Grizzlies (three games back) coming in at +475 for the top seed. The Dubs have the fifth-best odds, but it’s a huge longshot, +15000. Still, they’re -475 to reach the playoffs, though +170 to end up a play-in team. Basically, the oddsmakers like the Warriors to survive the play-in tournament, but think they’re unlikely to avoid it.
The Sacramento Kings are the favorites to win the Pacific Division at +185, while the LA Clippers are +270 and the Warriors are +275. With the Kings up 3.5 games on the Warriors and two on the Clippers, this feels like people still don’t respect Sacramento and Team Beam. This is especially clear when it comes to winning the Western Conference. Denver is +320, the Warriors are tied with the Clippers and Grizzlies at +450, and the Kings have the 9th-best odds at +2200, well behind the 13th-place Lakers at +1800.
What can Warriors fans take away from this? Mainly that the West is wide open, especially when you consider that the Warriors beat the conference favorite 4-1 in last year’s playoffs, though their roster got worse and Denver’s got better.
Historically, Dubs fans shouldn’t expect moves. Here’s a summary of their deadline moves over the past seasons.
2021: Dumped Brad Wanamaker and Marquise Chriss in tax-saving moves.
2020: In a lost season, traded D’Angelo Russell for Andrew Wiggins and the pick that turned into Jonathan Kuminga and a second-rounder they traded for Oubre. They also dealt Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III for second-round picks.
2017: Signed Matt Barnes to cover for an injured Kevin Durant. They also waived Jose Calderon, who they’d signed a day earlier.
2016: Waived Jason Thompson and signed Anderson Varejao.
2014: Traded Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks to the Lakers for Steve Blake.
2013: Paid Atlanta and Philadelphia to take Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler off their hands.
2012: Took on Richard Jefferson’s salary for a second-round pick, in a deal where they also flipped Stephen Jackson.
So set your expectations accordingly. The Warriors could make a big move, but we wouldn’t bet on it.