January 8, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with forward Draymond Green (23) during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. The Warriors defeated the Kings 117-106. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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Although the Golden State Warriors haven’t been mentioned in many NBA trade rumors, making a deal at the NBA trade deadline could help make the Dubs even better.
The Golden State Warriors are 47-9. It feels ridiculous to say that the Warriors need to make a trade, but even with all of the success the Dubs are enjoying there are still some problems with this team.
Draymond Green and Kevin Durant can step in to play minutes at center, but it’s not in the Warriors’ best interest to play those guys tons of minutes in the regular season at any position, much less one with as much physical strain as center.
There are trades the Dubs could make for positions besides centers, too. Shaun Livingston and Ian Clark are giving the Warriors good minutes this season, but this is the last year in both of their deals, and with Stephen Curry needing a new contract this summer it will be tough for the Warriors to keep everybody.
Acquiring some cost-controlled assets now could help the Warriors as they re-tool for next season this summer, in addition to providing extra help right now. Patrick McCaw is playing a big role in the rotation, and although he’s got promise, he’s still just a second-round rookie right now.
It’s exciting to watch the Baby Warriors, but giving Steve Kerr more established weapons to use in clutch moments might come up big in the playoffs. To that end, we’ll look at five deals the Dubs could make at or around the NBA trade deadline to make themselves even better.
Jan 29, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn (9) tries to keep the ball away from Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) during the second overtime at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Getting A Big Man From New York
Warriors get C, Kyle O’Quinn
Knicks get C, Zaza Pachulia, 2019 1st Round Pick
This has been one of my favorite trade ideas for a while now. Kyle O’Quinn is sneakily the best center on the New York Knicks (if we’re counting Kristaps Porzingis as a forward, of course.) O’Quinn is actually one of the better defensive centers in the NBA.
Opposing players who O’Quinn defends near the paint shoot 13.7 percent worse than usual in that six-foot area. He can really make a difference on defense, and could make Golden State even better on that end.
O’Quinn is the shot-blocking rim protector the Warriors have been missing. With the Knicks still a disaster and looking to retool around Porzingis going forward, maybe Pachulia’s expiring deal and the Dubs’ 2019 first is enough to steal New York’s 26-year-old defensive monster.
Bill Simmons suggested a different trade including two of the Baby Warriors and Pachulia, but I almost feel like Golden State would rather part with a future pick than two players who they might need as early as next year.
Feb 4, 2017; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein (00) celebrates with guard Ty Lawson (10) during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Taking A Sacramento Center
Warriors get C, Willie Cauley-Stein
Kings get C, Zaza Pachulia, 2019 1st Round Pick
This is essentially just a worse version of the first trade, with the added benefit of Golden State getting a player still on his rookie scale contract. While O’Quinn still has a season after this on his deal and then a player option, Cauley-Stein has two years of team control after this one before he enters restricted free agency.
There is downside here too, though. Cauley-Stein isn’t as good as O’Quinn, to be blunt. Where O’Quinn holds opponents to 47.6 percent within six feet of the rim, WCS allows opponents to convert 57.7 percent of their shots there.
The hope is that he’ll get better as he matures and grows in the NBA, but does Golden State really want to add another Baby Warrior to the fold instead of getting a more established player? That answer depends on how far forward the Warriors are looking, but with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers currently acting as the reigning champions something tells me Golden State would like to win sooner rather than later.
Cauley-Stein might not be overly available either, as the Sacramento Kings seem to believe in his growth as a player. With the Kings having about six centers on the roster, though, one would think there’s a way to steal one away.
Feb 14, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams (23) moves to the basket against Sacramento Kings forward Anthony Tolliver (43) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Shooters Shoot, Right?
Warriors get G, Lou Williams
Lakers get G, Shaun Livingston, 2019 1st Round Pick
It’s easy to say that Golden State has enough scorers to not have interest in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ leading scorer, but hear me out. The Warriors’ bench players just aren’t scoring all too much right now.
That problem has been mitigated by staggered lineups that mean at least a few of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are almost always on the floor, but imagine adding another really potent scorer to the fold in the second unit.
The Warriors’ best three bench scorers right now are Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and Ian Clark. They combine for 18.1 points per game. Lou Will scores 18.6 per game, on a better three-point percentage than any of the Warriors reserves.
William is scoring that much in just under 25 minutes per game, which is less than Iguodala plays now. Lou Will wouldn’t see as many shots with more Warriors on the floor, unless he had trouble finding the right role with the team.
That’s certainly possible–there’s a chance for any trade to fail if the players involved don’t jell on their new team. But imagine the Warriors with the best starting five in the NBA and the Sixth Man of the Year in Lou Will, plus a new lineup of death featuring Curry, Williams, Thompson, Durant and Green.
Besides fit, the real question about this deal is defense. Would the other three Warriors be able to cover for Curry and Williams up front? Would the additional offense offset any of those concerns?
Either of those questions could go either way, and this deal is far from risk-free, meaning the Warriors probably don’t have much interest in making it. It could be a home run if everything falls the right way, though.
Feb 11, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns center Alex Len (21) fouls Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) in the second half at Toyota Center. Houston Rockets won 133 to 102 .Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Looking At The Bright Side Of A Sun
Warriors get C, Alex Len
Suns get C, Zaza Pachulia, F, David West, 2019 1st Round Pick
I’m not sure if the Phoenix Suns want to deal Alex Len, but this would be a good time for them to do so. Len is on the last year of his rookie deal, and with the emergence of Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender minutes have been hard to find for Len.
He’s playing the least minutes per game he’s averaged since his rookie year, and has started just one game in the last month. Even in spot playing time, Len is still doing a great job protecting the rim this year.
Only three players hold opponents to a lower field goal percentage differential within six feet than Len: Kyle O’Quinn, Rudy Gobert and Kristaps Porzingis. He’s not been proven as a good starter in the NBA yet, but the Warriors would provide Len a great opportunity to look real good.
This 2019 first rounder the Warriors have is really their only trade chip, aside from the younger players on the team. Since Golden State already owes the Utah Jazz their 2017 first, they can’t deal their 2018 pick. That leaves 2019 as the next one up for grabs. If the Suns don’t wish to pay Len, dealing him now could mean they’re willing to take that pick a few years down the road in exchange.
Jan 24, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Cole Aldrich (45) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 112-111. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Lone Timberwolf No More
Warriors get C, Cole Aldrich
Timberwolves get C, Zaza Pachulia, G, Shaun Livingston
The Warriors might be able to snatch a center without throwing in that 2019 first-rounder. There’s a chance the Minnesota Timberwolves would take two expiring contracts and productive veteran players in exchange for Cole Aldrich.
Aldrich can play–he was effective on the Los Angeles Clippers last season–but Minnesota is paying him around $7 million each for this season and the next two to play less than 10 minutes per game.
With Gorgui Dieng and obviously Karl-Anthony Towns getting more run than Aldrich, that’s not really a good investment for the Wolves. The last year of his deal is only partially guaranteed, but Minnesota could open up some space immediately by dealing him now.
This deal, like all of the ones listed here, are more ideas than anything else. There haven’t been any substantial NBA trade rumors about the Warriors making a move, and there’s a chance the brass in Oakland decides stability is more important than trying to add a piece right now.
In addition, it’s really hard to decide what any asset in the NBA is really worth, because there’s likely a different answer for each team. These suggested trades could help the Warriors, though, and it’s always fun to imagine different scenarios that change the landscape of the league.