Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kevin Love to the Warriors: Wouldn’t it be nice


By Justin Taylor

Earlier this week I asked Warriors fans, if presented with a shot at a superstar, whether they would prefer to trade Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson? On one hand I got exactly what I expected, a great deal of hate mail accusing me of “trying to break up a potential championship contender.” My stance is that if Joe Lacob has instructed Bob Myers to look for that swing-for-the-fences move then so should I.

I understand the want and the need to see this young team reach its apex together but there are a maximum of ten superstars in this league. When you get your pitch you better swing at it, end of story. Today I’m following up on that hypothetical questionnaire with a very real hypothetical trade proposal. I’m taking my cuts, backlash be damned.

Kevin Love would look good in a Warriors jersey but he won't come cheap

Proposal:

Right now I’m submitting a fake proposal to an imaginary league office that will send the Warriors' David Lee and Harrison Barnes along with a purchased 2013 first round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love and Alexy Shved. If David Kahn were still the Wolves GM I’d tack on Derrick Williams but I’m pretty sure Flip Saunders is a smarter than him and the league might veto that version. I also want to keep this fake trade as realistic as possible.

Golden State fans hate the thought of dealing Barnes because we’ve been down this road before. Team drafts good player; team develops good player; team hits its stride with good player; team trades good player for unproven rookie. The difference here is that we’re not looking at Billy Owens or Brandan Wright and Nellie isn’t the one pulling the trigger. We’re talking about the best power forward in the league and he hasn’t even hit his prime yet.

(Quick Question: Would Lebron James consider signing with a team with the best shooting backcourt in the NBA, the best rebounding and passing power forward in the league and a legit seven foot defensive center in 2014? It would easily be the best, most well rounded squad he’s ever played on and that might include Team USA!)

Fans won't care if David Lee is traded but Harrison Barnes is different

Why the Warriors do it:

Kevin Love is a bona fide star that averaged 20 points and 15 boards as a 21 year old, 26/13 as a 22 year old and he is still only 24. He also happens to be a better shooter, low post scorer, rebounder, passer and defender than David Lee. On top of all that, they will be making damn near the same amount of money in the 2015-16 season when Lee is 33 and Love is just hitting his prime at 28.

The Warriors salary cap situation in 2014 remains unchanged. Do you know how many free agents would kill for the chance to play with Kevin Love and Steph Curry? Throw Klay Thompson into the mix and no team in NBA will be spacing the floor like the Warriors. Just imagine you are a slashing small forward for a second; I'll use Lebron James as a random example. What three running mates in the league are going to open the middle of the floor and keep defenses honest night in night out like these guys? That fact that Curry and Love are both extremely good, ridiculously unselfish passers would just be icing on the cake.

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Kevin Love would make up the best 3 point shooting starting lineup in the history of the NBA. I don’t even need to research that statement, call my bluff.

A front line of Andrew Bogut and Kevin Love would be the best passing and one of the best rebounding frontcourts in the entire NBA.

The team defense would improve because Love is a better defensive rebounder than David Lee and is a less terrible defender.  Brandon Rush is also a better defender than Harrison Barnes but that is besides the point. Lee is a hard worker and is good at getting boards but Love is the best rebounder in the NBA. Again, he’s only 24.

Alexy Shved as a throw in just might have a shot as the long term back up point guard for the Warriors whether Jarrett Jack resigns or they bring in another option in free agency.

Last but certainly least; I could make a super cheesy I LOVE CURRY © design the minute the deal gets league approval.

You've got to risk something if you want one of the best players in the league

Why the Timberwolves do it:

First and foremost, nobody around the league thinks Kevin Love will resign in Minnesota when his current deal expires so they better do something before they get a bunch of lowball offers.

No trade proposal that they get for Love will give them a two time All Star and a potentially perennial All Star.

If the trade doesn’t happen before the draft then the Warriors would be able to offer a pick in next seasons “loaded” draft as opposed to this year’s terrible draft.

Pairing Barnes with Ricky Rubio will put them on the SportsCenter Top 10 a few times a week even if it doesn’t put them in the playoffs.

No matter which way you slice it Minnesota fans wouldn’t be happy (I don’t think) but they would have one of the more entertaining teams in the league and their main guys would all be under contract for the foreseeable future. That is saying something for a small market team like them.

Who says no:

Even though it would be tough for the Twolves to find a better offer anywhere around the league I do think they would be the ones to turn this deal down.

How could the Warriors say no to adding the top power forward in the league while still maintaining their ability to make a splash in the 2014 free agent pool? There are some injury concerns but I’m way less worried about Kevin Love’s hand than I am about the ankles of Steph Curry and Andrew Bogut. Did I mention he’s still only 24?

Get on the phone Bob!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Harrison Barnes versus Klay Thompson: Winner gets traded

By Justin Taylor

Draft day and the all the potential player movement that comes with it is this Thursday. Don’t let the headline fool you, I wouldn’t trade either of the Warriors young wings for the number one pick in this draft. Discussing a trade involving Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes for anybody not named Lebron James or Kevin Durant is going to inspire a lot of negative reactions so it had better be for a a bonafide All Star. Bob Myers and Jerry West have already had this conversation so it’s time for us to play catch up.

You can’t be caught flat-footed when the phone rings and it’s a team trying to make a deal for a superstar. Determining who has the most potential, who has the most value to the Warriors and who is worth the most on the open market is a critical exercise for a GM, especially one with more assets than money or draft picks. No major deal is going down for the Warriors unless they’re willing to sacrifice something valuable and you know Steph Curry isn’t going anywhere. The obvious next step is to determine which of these two young, cheap, potential stars come in second on the trade value depth chart.

As a fan of both players I think I can speak to who is more valuable to the Warriors without my bias taking over. Everyone knows us Golden State fans love our homegrown guys to a fault so I’ll start with Bill Simmons’ Annual Trade Value column to get a prominent outsiders’ objective opinion for the league wide opinion. His process values things like age, money and potential over name value or past performance, which is exactly what I’m looking for.

On this years list Klay comes in at #47 and his explanation was more of an insult than anything else. Harrison Barnes doesn’t even crack the honorable mention that precedes the top 50. How can I take this shit seriously? I can’t do it. You know what? Fuck Bill Simmons and disregard that last paragraph!

Klay Thompson


Klaymetheus is a better nickname than the Black Falcon is that counts for anything 
(Credit: @Jesse_Garnier from SFBay.ca for the design)

Halfway through the season I said Klay would have the better career of the two and damn near got laughed out of the room. This was right after he personally coughed up a couple of games in a row but my logic then is the same as it is now. His career arc is just easier to project. I’m not breaking any news here but Klay Thompson is 23 years old and has a top ten, if not a top five, shot in the league. That alone guarantees him a 12-14 year career barring injury.

Klay’s biggest deficiencies (other than his personality) are actually part of reason why he’s more likely to be the better pro. The aspects of his game that need to improve are things that come with experience. The game just needs to slow down for him. He made a ton of bonehead plays this season that mostly boiled down to him rushing everything from his shot, to his drives to his pouting. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the light bulb doesn’t go on with him.

Reggie Miller comes to mind when thinking about what his ceiling as a player may be even if it doesn’t feel like a good match. He’s already a better defender and rebounder than Reggie so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Finding his basement is an easy one though. The names Dale Ellis and Dell Curry come to mind immediately and both of those guys were effective role players until the day they retired. Worst case scenario, the Warriors will have two Currys if all he ever does is improve is shot selection. It may not be the highest reward but it’s definitely the lowest risk.

Harrison Barnes


This picture will never get old 

I may or may not have talked shit about Barnes before last year’s draft for underachieving in college. It was mostly because I wanted Damian Lillard to back up Steph Curry but the realization is that his problem at North Carolina wasn’t his poor play, it was unrealistic expectations. The kid was named a preseason All American as a freshman for god sake. By the time the playoffs arrived he was flying under the radar. When David Lee went down, he blew up and now he’s trying out for Team USA.

That’s quite a swing from overrated to underrated and possibly back to overrated. I say that because that the loss of our only All Star didn’t just free up more shots for Barnes, it gave him better matchups. It was no coincidence that his confidence skyrocketed against slower power forwards in Denver and smaller guards in San Antonio. His consistency issues, outside of being a rookie and the coach was yanking him all the time, for those other 82 games had to do with all of those athletic small forwards in the NBA.

Moments like that posterization of Anthony Randolph are either building blocks of a great legacy or reminders of how good things could have been. He’s not on that level but it can be similar the reason why people get so frustrated by Lebron. When you see the potential to be the greatest ever, just being top ten of all time becomes unacceptable somehow. Barnes has All Star potential and it’ll be a disappointment if he’s “just” a quality starter for the next ten years; even if I said I’d be happy with exactly that on draft day.

The Black Falcon could soar as high as James Worthy when it is all said and done but there is some serious downside potential to his game too. I'd say the safe middle ground might just be his current teammate and mentor Richard Jefferson.

The Verdict


If Klay just learns to be patient and then attacks when he gets overplayed 
he'll never lose his allowance again

When I said Klay Thompson would have a better career I wasn’t saying that he was more important to the Warriors future. That is exactly what I’m saying now. At this moment there are hardly any two guards in the league that can actually shoot and defend on Klay’s level. On the flip side, there are a number of guys who can give you what Harrison is only projected to do.

Where is there a bigger shortage? Klay Thompson’s charisma or NBA shooting guards? Actually, don’t answer that. The point is that even with the lack of twos in the league I think Harrison Barnes will get a bigger second contract due to his size, athleticism and marketability. The ability to pay Klay less actually makes him more valuable to the salary structure of the team.

Barnes big time performance against San Antonio means he may be the bigger trade chip as well. Considering that this conversation is only relevant if a major deal for a superstar is on the table that is important to know. It’s also important to keep in mind who the guy we’re trading for would rather play with. Klay is creating space for a big man or a slasher when he’s standing 30 feet from the basket and he doesn’t even need the ball to pull the defense away from the paint. He may be prickly at times and pouty at others but when it’s all said and done, he will be keeping defenses honest for a minimum of the next ten years.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Golden State Warriors front office moves in 2013 and beyond


By Justin Taylor

This isn't happening so lets talk about some things that can happen

I’m proud to say that I’ve been following every move the Warriors have made for almost three decades even if they’ve sucked more often than not. My philosophy is and always has been that all of the losing will make winning so much sweeter. I truly believe that unless you’ve experienced the despair of a humiliating defeat you will never be able to fully appreciate the thrill of winning it all. Nobody knows when that day will come but you can actually see their window of opportunity off in the distance for the first time since the 70's. Some people are already feeling a draft it seems.

Now that the Warriors are relevant for more than just their loyal fan base again the term “wait till next year” isn’t just something for the eternal optimists. I’ve always been one of those kool aid drinkers myself but now there is a whole new generation of fans, young and old, spiking the punch bowl. I must be addicted to going against the grain because I was a Golden State evangelist back in the days where your credibility as a basketball fan suffered because of it. Now that it isn’t a crazy notion I’m going the other way and telling a much larger audience that they had better temper their expectations.

You have my word that I’m not doing this on purpose just to stir the pot. I just see a team that has exceeded expectations and is now expected to build on it a year before it is ready to. None of this is to say it won’t happen. My personal opinion is that if this team hit fourth gear sooner than anyone anticipated, next season will be clutch getting pushed in so fifth gear can be realized in 2014. It’s not hard to see the developing youth, the massive amount of dead weight coming off the books and the opportunity to add a true difference maker that comes with it next summer.

I find it unfortunate that today’s sports world almost requires instant reactions that rule out the ability to fully flesh out thoughts and ideas. That kept occurring to me as I spent the time to find out just how good 2014 could be for the Golden State. The more I looked forward the more I started thinking that our opportunity to hit the home run that pushes us to the next level might just come in 2013. In the end, things will probably just unfold in a way that makes me wrong more than once.

2014 seems like it should be a boon for the Warriors with it’s anticipated war chest of cap space and the anticipation of a Lebron James headlined free agent class. The problem with that line of thought is three fold. The chances of Lebron coming to Oakland are slim to none; the rest of the big names on the unrestricted list don’t fit the Warriors plans; even though there are some intriguing names on the restricted free agent list, you’ll need to overpay them (limiting flexibility from 2014-who the fuck knows) like crazy to scare away their current teams. 

For now I'll prove my point against my original point with the list of 2014 big name unrestricted free agents.

Top 2014 Free Agents:

Dwayne Wade: I’ll take Klay Thompson for $15 million a year less and about 10x less risk of a huge drop in production or worse, the length of a contract plagued by injuries.

Kobe Bryant: No chance and no thank you.

Luol Dang: I’m sticking with Harrison Barnes who should be the guy we’re all hoping he’ll be by the 2014-15 season and at one third of the price.

Lebron James: If there is a real chance to get him you do whatever it takes but I don’t think we’ll have to waste too much time thinking about those scenarios.

Danny Granger: He might be an interesting option IF…he recovers from his injury problems, becomes a more efficient scorer and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The chances of all three things happening are about as likely as a Richard Jefferson resurgence.

Carmelo Anthony: Yet another guy who wouldn’t consider the Warriors and yet another sigh of relief from me. When you have a team with great chemistry he’s not the player that builds on that. Steph Curry is a more efficient scored and he even knows how to pass the ball.

Dirk Nowitzki: Does anyone expect him to be much more than a spot up shooter who makes $15+ million a year by the time the 2014-15 season rolls around? Maybe I better rethink that though. He is from Germany after all. If they’re giving world-class treatment to Americans like Kobe and Jermaine O’neal what do you think they would do for the local hero Nowitzki? They may have a whole facility dedicated to extending Dirk’s career through the 2016 or even the 2020 Olympics.

Pau Gasol: If he’s already a shell of himself what will remain after next year?

Amare Stoudemire: This car already has a salvage title on it. I’m pretty sure that legally, his contract must come with a Lemon Law Disclaimer and good luck getting that thing insured.

Chris Bosh: It is infinitely more fun to make fun of Chris Bosh and the team that overpays him than it is to root for him.


Another scene like this after next season may mean that everything is going the Warriors way


Andrew Bogut: The more you look at this list the more you hope Bogut gets healthy and resigns with the Warriors. His size is a need, his game fits and his personality fits. Everybody else is old, falling apart and overpaid to say the least.

This list shot my original theory regarding 2014 straight to hell. Now I’ve got to rethink the whole “stand pat, let the dead money fall off the payroll and be a top player on next season’s free agent market” theory. In fact, I probably should have moved on from that notion as soon as Joe Lacob stated that “the thought of standing pat repulses me” for the second time in two weeks, first on KNBR two weeks and then on 95.7 The Game last week.

Now that ten seconds have passed here’s the new theory that will lose relevance sometime between draft day and July 1st. For what the Warriors need there are better fits in the looming free agent period but there obviously isn’t any money to capitalize at this time.

Instead of wondering whether Bob Myers is looking to make a big trade or not we should probably think about what would need to preface such a deal. There are two things I’m looking for over the next few weeks that might shed light on future moves.

Joe Lacob has already referenced buying a draft pick. That would be one asset that could help the Warriors get into another major deal that goes down somewhere else around the league (think Igoudala, Howard or Granger). The point of being a third wheel in such a deal would be to give the pick to one team and use Richard Jefferson’s expiring deal to match up money for the team looking to cut cost.

If and when none of that happens prior to the draft I’ll still believe that Bob Myers is cooking something up for this year. I wish the trade deadline weren’t so far away because it’s going to be a busy one unlike last year. The new collective bargaining agreement tightens up after next season so luxury tax paying teams are going to begging for Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson. Never thought you’d hear that again did ya?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

No draft pick is no problem for the 2013 Golden State Warriors

By Justin Taylor

Draft talk in the Bay Area has been non-existent this year and it feels spectacular! When the ping pong balls got pulled at the lottery I didn’t even realize it till later that day. It is such a foreign concept not to feel like I need some sort of lucky charm in hand before they open those stupid envelopes on lottery night. I don’t know why I do that, it only works when a scrub like Joe Smith is the consensus number one pick anyways.

Point A on the “Reasons I’m glad we don’t have a draft pick” list is that this particular draft class is super weak. If you were rating it on a scale of 1-10, with one equaling dog shit, lets just say someone stepped in that dog shit, rubbed it into the carpet and tracked it all over the house. What I’m trying to say is that this isn’t the type of draft you give up anything of value to get into.

The one and only scenario that gets the Warriors a draft pick and still makes total sense is the one in which Joe Lacob pays cash for it. It wouldn’t be the first time Lacob shelled out for a pick and he is the guy that threw the possibility out there. As soon as I heard him say that I spent at least 20 minutes pouring over ESPN’s draft coverage, which led to a minimum of an additional 5 minutes looking at other ridiculous mock drafts around the internet.

After 26 minutes of hardcore research and I finally found an inconsistency that can be used taken advantage of. The strategy involves buying a late first round pick that a number of teams would be happy to sell, using it to bring in a player who attacks the basket like nobody on the Warriors outside of Harrison Barnes. He would also be Golden State royalty from the moment David Stern calls his name.

In case that last line didn’t say it all, the kid I’m speaking of is Tim Hardaway Jr. and he is the only youngster in this draft that I’d actually be excited to see put on a Warriors cap come draft day. There is much more to my Little Timmy love than just his name even if he’ll never be able to do the UTEP Two-Step. Seeing his Dad attending games is just another small bonus for a man who once had a Tim Hardaway Die Hard poster hanging in his room from approximately 1989-1997.

They don't make posters quite like they used to

There is a hole on this roster Timmy is capable of filling. We know this team needs a point guard whether it is Jarrett Jack or another free agent. No rookie is going to come in and fill that crucial role. We also need another big man or two to account for Carl Landry’s spot and Andrew Bogut’s inevitable trips to the doctors’ office. Again, no rookie (especially not one late in this draft) would make you feel good when either of those guys is missing. The one missing component on this roster is the one that Junior was born for. The role is for a guy that can, handle a little, pass a little and fearlessly attack the basket.


This isn’t a “by any means necessary” proposition, it is mostly a value proposition. The reason I spent that extra five minutes flipping through countless mock drafts was due to Hardaway being projected to go as high as 20th in only one of them. Most had him going somewhere between picks 24- 29 and a couple even had him slipping to the second round. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In a draft full of mediocre role players at best, how is a kid with NBA size, skills, athleticism and pedigree not a lottery pick? If he were slotted where I think he should be I wouldn’t even be bringing this up.

I don’t pay much attention to college basketball but I watch the NCAA tournament to see the best teams and most of the draft prospects with my own eyes at least once. During March Madness this year it became painfully obvious what a piece of shit draft this was going to be. In case I haven’t mentioned it yet, this draft is going to be a real, hot, steaming pile of shit. In the midst of all the crappy players on all of the crappy teams Hardaway caught my eye as one of the few NBA caliber players in the bunch.

As with most draft picks, Hardaway would require the right fit to succeed in the league. The Warriors would be that perfect situation. There would be no unrealistic expectations that come with being a top ten pick, our needs fit his strengths and we are also very strong in the areas where he is deficient; mainly his outside shot. As long as he proves himself to be a hard worker who wants to get better he has absolutely nothing to worry about but his game in Oakland.

The only thing he could do or say to make us like his draft day acquisition anymore is if he were to proclaim, “I got Skeeellz” during his introductory press conference.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Joe Lacob saved basketball in Northern California and made a killing in the process

By Justin Taylor

I don’t feel like I should be the first one to connect the dots on this topic but Joe Lacob hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit for saving the Sacramento Kings and making $100 million in the process. Not a single publication that I’ve seen has acknowledged the fact that if he hadn’t pushed one of his partners in the Warriors ownership group, Vivek Ranadive, to get into the Sacramento bidding war the Seattle Supersonics may be coming back to life already. It has nothing to do with his love of Sacramento and not nearly as much as he has stated it does with helping a friend.

 Despite the Maloofs best efforts this arena in Sacramento may finally become a reality

The fact is that the Warriors ownership group paid $450 million for the team in 2010. Now, a team that plays in a market nowhere near as lucrative and just happens to be 90 miles away has been sold for over $500 million. There is no scenario in which the Warriors aren’t 15-20% more valuable than the Kings and that is just one more feather in the cap of Mr. Lacob.

The Warriors ownership group had more to gain in this deal than any other team in the league. If you haven’t connected those dots yet let me help you out. Based on the size of the market there is a scenario in which the Seattle Sonics are equal in value to the Warriors. If the Kings sell to the Seattle group for $500 million it doesn’t do much to increase the valuation of the Warriors. If they sell for $500 million and stay in Sacramento the value of the Warriors instantly jumps $100 million dollars give or take a few million.

Vivek probably already knew this but I’m sure Joe finished connecting the dots for him the way I’m doing for some of you now. You see, by overpaying for the Kings, Vivek immediately boosted the value of both of their stakes in the Warriors. When the sale of the Kings was announced, anybody with an ownership stake in the Warriors must have been dancing in the streets because every dollar they spent back in 2010 is now worth a minimum of a $1.20 and they haven’t even broken ground in San Francisco yet.

 Something tells me this building will be worth more than the one being built in Sacramento

Think about it like this. Let’s say you bought a beautiful four bedroom three bath house somewhere in the East Bay for $450,000 just to throw out a number. One week later, another house on your street sells for $550,000. Great news right? Hold that thought cause it gets better. The house that just sold for an extra hundred grand is only three bedrooms, has less square footage, it sits on a smaller plot of land and still needs quite a bit of work. Now you’re ecstatic because you just guaranteed yourself a ton of extra cash if you decide to sell or refinance. It’s all about the comps in real estate deals and NBA franchise purchases.

While we’re talking about franchise values and comps; picture these two brand new arenas that sit just over an hour apart. One sits perched out on the water down the street from AT&T Park, in the shadows of the Bay Bridge and downtown San Francisco depending on the hour of the day. The other rises above the Sacramento River, Raley Field (a beautiful minor league ballpark) and downtown Sacramento. You tell me which owner is sitting on a bigger gold mine.

I don’t know what Vivek’s share of the Warriors was or what his share of the Kings is but I do know one thing. He parlayed his Golden State minority investment into a majority share of his own NBA team quicker than anybody since Joe Lacob went from minority Celtics owner to a majority share of the Warriors. I’ll be interested to see how much Vivek gets for his share of the Warriors in the coming days or months. That will be the clearest indicator of just how much the value of the team has gone up since Joe’s group bought it in 2010.

Love him or hate him for working his ass off to move the Warriors to San Francisco there is no disputing that Lacob knows exactly what he’s doing. Anybody that says they wouldn’t move their team 15 minutes down the road, picking up millions of dollars on the way is either lying or delusional. Lacob didn’t just see the valuation of his franchise get a huge boost with the sale of the Kings, he gained another ally in the power structure of the NBA.

 Whether it is in this building or in Oracle Arena I just want to see a championship banner

When the dust settles I only care about one thing; that the Warriors go from being an NBA doormat to one of the dominant franchises in the league. I never thought I’d see that day but the path to joining the NBA elite keeps getting clearer and clearer. For me, it’s not about money or power; it’s about seeing my team raise a championship banner at least one time before I die. Everything I’ve seen since 2010 tells me that it’s only a matter of time for the Warriors. For Sacramento, I’m not so sure. They would be playing catch up with us whether they stayed in the state capitol, moved to Seattle or back to Rochester.