Feb 21, 2014 1:56 PM EST
When the clock hit 3 PM EST on Thursday, basketball fans around the globe groaned as another NBA trade deadline passed without the epic blockbusters that fill the RealGM Forums. Although the deadline lacked a true blockbuster, the trades that were made (and the ones that were left on the table) will undoubtedly shift the landscape of the Western Conference playoff picture and possibly the team that will be facing the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals (It’s a lock, nobody is seriously questioning it).
The four most notable trades in the West came from the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors, who picked up Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers, will look for him to provide the steady hand off the bench that they have been pursuing since Jarrett Jack left in the offseason. Blake’s addition isn’t going to drastically improve the team, but he is able to give the team quality backup point guard minutes behind Stephen Curry, given Jordan Crawford’s inability to play without Brad Stevens as his coach.
The Rockets moved little used backup point guard, Aaron Brooks, to the Denver Nuggets for Jordan Hamilton. After refusing to lower their insane asking price on Omer Asik, the Rockets decided to fill their lack of a stretch four with Hamilton. Despite Hamilton blatantly not being a power forward or an elite shooter (39 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3), the Rockets apparently believe he can become one when freed up as Dwight Howard draws attention in the post. The more important aspect to this trade is that it likely allows the Rockets to call-up D-League star, Isaiah Canaan.
The Spurs traded little used point guard Nando de Colo for Austin Daye. In one of the day’s most intriguing moves, the Spurs took on another reclamation project in the form of a 6’11 shooter who was once a top prospect coming out of high school. While Daye has struggled to earn minutes outside of his second season in the NBA (when he shot 40 percent from 3), he has tremendous length, can guard multiple positions, and San Antonio has shown interest in him. If that isn’t a sign of someone that will be playing meaningful playoff minutes in May, I am not sure what is.
The last deals of any consequence in the West were by the Clippers. They traded both Antawn Jamison and BJ Mullens for the rights to a Turkish player that probably is unaware he was traded, and a conditional second round draft pick that will likely never happen. These deals, while not interesting beyond the salary implications for the Clippers, do allow open roster spots on the team for buyout candidates. Look for Glen “Big Baby” Davis to join his old coach, Doc Rivers.
While each team above made a move – albeit small – at the trade deadline, the other five teams in contention, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies all stood pat.
Although several teams are in desperate need of a big man (OKC, PDX, PHX), no one budged on Philly’s offer of two second round draft picks for Spencer Hawes.
Portland, who is without a second round draft pick until 2019, had a tremendous need for Hawes with Joel Freeland out for two months and LaMarcus Aldridge banged up.
The Thunder flirted with a deal for Knicks embattled shooting guard, Iman Shumpert, but backed off at the last moment.
As for the remaining needs, the slew of veterans that will likely be bought out this upcoming week will have to suffice. Fortunately for these teams, Glen Davis, Caron Butler, Danny Granger, Jason Terry, Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Antawn Jamison are all buyout candidates.
Many NBA teams believe it is better to trade during the offseason so that players can get familiar with a system and their teammates, while others utilize the short second half of the season as a tryout for recently acquired players to see if they’re long-term fits. It appears that teams trading in the offseason are better off. For any fan grumbling over their team not making a blockbuster yesterday, here’s a stat you need to know: one; as in the number of Championship teams during the last 25 years to trade for a starter at the trade deadline (Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons in 2004). So while fans of the Rockets clamored for Rajon Rondo and Warriors' fans hoped for Kevin Love, just know that the odds of you winning the title with those guys was slim to none.
Happy Trade Deadline everyone! Only 124 more days until the NBA Draft!
Feb 12, 2014 8:57 PM EST
Steph Curry has been masterfully brilliant over the past calendar year, fulfilling the promise of his unique talent by staying healthy and leading the Golden State Warriors to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Curry has undoubtedly ascended into the NBA’s true elite, climbing from No. 40 in ESPN’s #NBARank in 2012 to No. 6 entering the current season. With Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams all dealing with injury issues, Curry is now widely considered the second best point guard on the planet behind Chris Paul.
Curry’s 54-point Madison Masterpiece was the preamble before his playoff run in which his career trajectory was reconsidered. Observers on a national level have taken notice with 1,047,281 fan votes to send Curry to his first All-Star Game, and as a starter no less.
But the numbers also say, beyond the potential for hyperbole over the past twelve months, Curry has poised himself for one of the most unique careers in NBA history.
Curry has established himself as one of the best shooters in NBA history and has an opportunity to be considered the absolute who has ever played the game. He shoots 43.7 percent on threes for his career, ranking him third all-time, but neither of the players ahead of him on the list (Steve Kerr, Hubert Davis) handled Curry’s shot volume or ball distribution duties. In all five of his NBA seasons, Curry has shot at least 40 percent on his three-point attempts, converting 43 percent in his first four.
This season, with his "career-worst" 40 percent mark, Curry is poised to break his own single-season record for made threes, and is doing so on 8.3 attempts per game-- only Ray Allen, in 2006, has achieved the feat.
Curry, at 25, bears a favorable resemblance to Nash at 30, when he won his first of consecutive MVP awards and started establishing himself as a future Hall of Famer. Most elite players become All-Stars at a younger age, but both Curry and Nash were later bloomers in this regard. Nash didn’t become an All-Star until 2002 when he was already 27, and only Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon were as old as a first time MVP winner.
Whether Curry ever wins an MVP, or leads the Warriors to the appearance in the Finals that always alluded Nash is of course yet to be seen, but he's certainly capable of surpassing Nash's peak production. This season, Curry is second in the NBA in assists, averaging 9.1. per game, while also scoring 24.6 points. If he maintains this pace, he'll become the first player to finish top-five in both points and assists since Allen Iverson, and he will do so while shooting at a significantly more efficient percentage.
Nash remained a player with a PER over 20.0 until the age of 37, while John Stockton put up similar numbers until the age of 40. Assuming Curry becomes even more of a savvy playmaker and his ankles hold up, his prime will be sustained for another decade.
The beauty in Curry’s game comes from the pureness of his style, exuberance and of course his shot. Watching his game connects you to historically pure shooters like Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, his father Dell Curry, and of course to point guards like Nash and Bob Cousy. The All-Star Game is an annual showcase of basketball’s best, and it will allow Curry another opportunity to prove he belongs in that conversation.
Feb 10, 2014 12:16 AM EST
February 19, 2015 may seem like a long way away and in NBA circles it feels like an eternity at present. After all, the Association will experience four playoff rounds, one crazy offseason, and two trade deadlines in that time.
However, February 19, 2015 should hold significant importance for those who care about the Golden State Warriors because at the end of that day the basketball world will know how serious and competent their ownership group will be for the foreseeable future.
While owners certainly can and do change their ways from time to time, most stay true to form once we figure it out. Some owners are hands-on while others are not and some write angry letters in Comic Sans while others do not. These kinds of differences help give each team a distinct and fascinating personality and also make the league more predictable in a broader sense. Fans and media members alike know (or think we know) a wide variety of information about Joe Lacob’s ownership style but there are still a few pieces that are impossible to know yet.
Actual Willingness to Pay the Luxury Tax
The main reason 2/19/15 matters is that we will finally know if Golden State’s owners are actually willing to pay the luxury tax. Bob Myers did a fabulous job maneuvering draft picks and players to gain the ability to sign Andre Iguodala outright using cap space in 2013, a move necessary to call the bluff of the Denver Nuggets and acquire him via sign-and-trade over the summer. While those transactions made the team better and likely saved Lacob some money, they also deprived us of the chance to find out if ownership really has the willingness to pay the tax when put up against it. As someone who has covered and followed the league, recent years are littered with owners who talked a big talk about footing the bill and then cowered behind fiscal responsibility when the opportunity presented itself. Staring the extra financial outlay in the face apparently leads to different decisions than puffing without consequence.
While the Warriors avoided the toughest financial decisions in 13-14, it will prove much more difficult to do so by the 14-15 trade deadline. Klay Thompson becomes eligible for an extension this summer, meaning the front office has a tough negotiation ahead of them and a rough eight month waiting period if the two sides cannot come to an agreement. With Stephen Curry, David Lee, Andre Iguodala, and the now-extended Andrew Bogut on the books for 15-16 for more than $50 million combined for that season, Thompson's inevitable raise likely pushes the Warriors into tax land without meaningful changes, especially since Draymond Green will be a free agent in 2015 as well, and Harrison Barnes follows one year behind. While both Thompson and Barnes have not improved as much as hoped or expected this season, rookie contracts hold players under value so strongly that even disappointing seasons will leave the Warriors paying more for them than they have for their first four campaigns.
Even if Thompson does not receive an extension on or before Halloween 2014, the 2015 trade deadline will illuminate what paths the front office wants to leave open as possibilities. Unless they want to follow in the footsteps of former minority owner Vivek Ranadivé and let a Restricted Free Agent go with a minimal return (which was the right move for the Kings with Tyreke Evans, for the record), the team would have significant trouble getting under the 15-16 tax after the 2015 deadline. While a modest summer of 2014 could leave the team under the tax again next year, pushing it back again one year from now would take some serious sacrifices and tell us what we need to know.
While not necessarily mandatory for either team success or for consideration as a quality owner, a proven willingness to pay the big bucks necessary to keep a quality team together adds legitimacy to the Warriors’ aspiration to be considered an upper echelon NBA team. After all, only one team has won the NBA championship in the luxury tax era without paying it that season: the 2005-06 Miami Heat. While non-tax paying teams have made the Finals five other times in the last decade, none of the others held the trophy at the end of the day. On top of that reality, teams that have never bucked up convey a different impression to superstars looking to commit to a franchise. Look at all the hoops Chris Paul made Donald Sterling jump through last summer before he re-signed with the Clippers. He had the power to force his owner to show his mettle and apparently Sterling did enough to keep Paul with the Clippers after finally pulling the trigger and adding Doc Rivers. Unsurprisingly, these tests from star players often come when they are looking at their third contract and their first bite at Unrestricted Free Agency. For the Warriors, the year that matters here will be 2017 because Stephen Curry can go wherever he likes at that point. In my eyes, Joe Lacob and company have to prove their dedication before then, ideally soon enough to keep Curry’s eyes from wandering in the final year of his contract with free agency looming shortly ahead.
Deciding what to do with Mark Jackson
While reasonable minds can and do differ on how good a coach Mark Jackson has been for the Warriors, the front office faces a major series of decisions on his future between now and 2/19/15. Over the summer, they picked up the fourth year option on Jackson’s contract without working out any sort of longer term extension. That final season under his current contract would make Jackson functionally a coaching free agent after 14-15 without a new agreement. While that kind of flexibility can be desired and even the right move depending on how the team sees him, we can all be sure that Jackson would prefer both the financial and structural stability created by a firmer long-term commitment. In some ways even more importantly, coaches and players around the league will closely monitor the situation because it marks the first big decision this ownership group has had to make on one of “their” guys. After all, Lacob himself lauded Jackson as “the right person to guide this team into the future and help us achieve the success that we are striving for as an organization" when he was hired in June of 2011. Playing games with someone like that can lead to optics problems around the league, especially when the person in the middle is as popular and (comparatively) successful as Jackson. Bad decisions or even good calls handled poorly can help start distinctly unhelpful narratives and shift perceptions.
I am not advocating for any particular solution to this question at the present, just noting that it must be handled deftly and coherently.
Each of these major issues will tell the NBA what kind of owner they have in Joe Lacob and what tier of organization they can expect the Warriors to be for years to come. With stakes that high, 375 days should not be that long a wait.
Dec 17, 2013
Seth Curry is more aggressive off ball screens and has been excelling in pick-and-rolls that he would see in the NBA. At Duke, Curry saw most of his time at shooting guard, but he’s the primary ball handler in Santa Cruz while averaging 36.9 minutes per contest.
Oct 29, 2013
The following 30 questions are the biggest issues facing each NBA front office as the 13-14 regular season begins.
Oct 21, 2013
In an NBA so rich with talent and intriguing storylines, how can you limit yourself to just one team? These five squads deserve second billing in your hearts and remote-holding hands.
Oct 02, 2013
The vibe at media day for the Warriors certainly felt different this year, which makes sense considering the resounding success of last season that made the team relevant in a different way than it had been since the "We Believe" team in 2007.
Aug 16, 2013
Great drafts for the Rockets, 76ers, Nets, Warriors, Hawks and Grizzlies headline this complete rundown of the 2013 offseason.
Jul 08, 2013
With the core of the Warriors set, Bob Myers can add a wide variety of different salaries whether those players are currently free agents or signed on other teams.
Jul 06, 2013
After giving up two first round picks to dump massive salary in order to bring in Andre Iguodala, the Warriors actually have the chance to utilize two majorly different methods to build their team the rest of this summer.
Jul 01, 2013
With the 2013 NBA offseason underway, here is a primer on what all 30 teams are facing.
Jun 28, 2013
Breaking down all 30 teams by category of how they fared in the often surprising, never disappointing 2013 NBA Draft.
Jun 01, 2013
The biggest misconception out there has to be that expiring contracts and cap room are the same thing. There are two ways that they diverge: teams can be over the cap (so not all of the salary coming off converts into cap room) and players/picks retained by the team in question do not go off the books entirely due to cap holds.
May 23, 2013
Getting Dwight Howard sits within the realm of possibility for the Warriors, but it would come at a steep, steep cost unless the Lakers are more generous than expected. Wasting their amnesty on Charlie Bell and using 2013 cap space to acquire a pick last season is again continuing to hurt them.
May 20, 2013
One fun component of the Amnesty rule is that we know exactly which players are eligible for it and that number can only decrease over time since the players had to have been under contract with the same team before the new CBA.
May 11, 2013
Instead of taking their opponents to the limits of their ability and playing the game on their advantage, Mark Jackson and the Warriors ceded the high ground for the false positive of standardization and gave away any semblance of comfort or experience since Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli played about 20 seconds together in total during the regular season.
May 06, 2013
After a challenging and triumphant series against the Nuggets, what makes the Warriors' series against the Spurs so interesting is that so many of the advantages they exploited in the first round will turn into weaknesses against Gregg Popovich and company.
May 03, 2013
The Warriors faced the perfect team and coach and benefitted immensely from some terrible tactical decisions that gave them extra leverage in some key moments. Even with all those advantages, it still took talent, guts, and some huge performances to move on to the second round.
Apr 29, 2013
Despite his thin frame and a game seemingly susceptible to dominant physical presences, Stephen Curry has delivered against top competition whenever he has gotten the chance. While we always wonder if a player who shines in the brightest of lights can do it on a new stage with better competition, the basketball world does not need to wonder anymore.
Apr 28, 2013
After a Game 3 win by the Golden State Warriors over the Denver Nuggets that had both incredible atmosphere and truly wild action on the court, it felt best to take some time and really think about what that tilt taught us about the series.
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