Quick note: I wrote this prior to the rain of boos that Lacob bathed in this evening. Ray Ratto had a great article about it. I was not in attendance at Oracle, but I agree with the fans frustrations.
Life as a Warriors Fan
Everything was supposed to change when Cohan sold the team.
“It will be different!” Lacob shouted from the roof of Oracle. “We are different! We will win!”
As a fan, I was ecstatic. The Wicked Witch of the East Bay is gone! HUZZAH! Party in the Kingdom of Golden State! No one can be worse than Cohan!
Unfortunately, after almost a year and a half, those lovable Golden State Warriors are still stuck in NBA hell: Permanent Mediocrity. And they don’t seem to be getting out anytime soon. They are exactly where you DON’T want be in the NBA: Treading water year after year, finishing somewhere between the 8-11 seed of your respective conference. Not one of the absolute worst teams in the league, but far from being a contender.
The 2012 trade deadline recently passed, and the Warriors were one of the most active teams in the league. You know the story by now- they essentially traded Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh for Andrew Bogut and Richard Jefferson with a little visit from our good friend Cap’n Jack. On paper, that looks pretty good, right! Teams are never able to trade out small for a big! What a win for the Dubs! According to Lacob, they “hit a homerun!”
This COULD potentially be a decent trade… IF Warriors were a Bogut type player away from competing for a title. They are about 3 Boguts away, and they just killed any hope of cap room for the next two off seasons. Yes, the team they have today is their team (barring any more trades) for the foreseeable future. Humor me and pretend everyone on Warriors’ roster is healthy (which is far from a sure thing). Starters:
PF: David Lee
SF: Dorell Wright
SG: Klay Thompson
PG: Steph Curry and His Ankles
Bench: A mix of Why Didn’t They Amnesty Me Andris Biedrins, I Used to Be Good Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and other role players/ castoffs/ D-Leaguers.
With that roster, what is the realistic, absolute best case scenario? Likely, their ceiling is around a 7 seed in the Western Conference and a first round smackdown from one of the top seeds. As John Hollinger pointed out, if everything lines up they can now dream to be the Hawks of the West. Translated- their best case is a 6ish seed and a first round stomping.
This trade proves that the Warriors don’t seem to grasp that swapping one average player for different one with a worse/longer contract just to re-shuffle the deck is not a recipe for success in the NBA. It is better to simply bottom out, get a few top 5 picks and hope you can luck into a superstar. Watching a team that wins 15-20 games is not THAT much worse or different than one that wins 30-40. Especially if the 20 win team comes with the likelihood of a top 5 pick.
I don’t dislike David Lee or Andrew Bogut. They are both above average players, work hard on the court, seem to care, and play to the best of their ability. What they are NOT are superstars. And you NEED a superstar to win in the NBA.
Arguments against the “Superstar is Needed to Win” theory can obviously be made. This is not an airtight, infallible scientific hypothesis. The recent Pistons championship team comes to mind as a winner without a true superstar. However, to be a serious contender year after year, you need a SuperDuper star. I would say this list includes: Lebron, Wade, Rose, Kobe, Howard, Durant, Westbrook, Dirk… and that’s about it. Clearly not all 30 teams can have one of these SuperDuper stars since they are in such limited supply. What do all of the first 8 names have in common except Lebron? They are on the same team that drafted them! What do ALL the names except Kobe and Dirk have in common? They were top 5 picks! None of that is not a coincidence.
The way the salary cap is constructed, you simply CANNOT pay a Lee-Bogut (Lee-Bo) frontcourt HALF OF YOUR CAP and build a championship team! Lee-Bo will get roughly $30M combined for the next 3 seasons after this. If they also want to keep Steph Curry and His Ankles, the Warriors are likely at around $40M+ on with a Lee-Bo-Curry core.
Instead of simply blowing it up, trading EVERYONE except Steph and Klay Thompson for as many picks and cap space that you can get, the Warriors took on MORE salary with more mediocre talent. And guess what- if you can manage to create cap space, you are not required to use every penny. Crazy concept, I know. Just because you cant get Deron Williams or Lebron doesn’t mean you HAVE to get DeAndre Jordan, David Lee, Bogut or Nene for $12M+ a year.
Let’s say you have saved up $100 to spend on dinner. You have been waiting for months to go to the best restaurant in town for their premium steak, but they don’t have any tables available all evening. Do you just say “F it,” and instead go spend $90 on 4 Taco Supremes at Taco Bell? NO! You wait until that a table is available at your favorite restaurant for that amazing steak! The DeAndre Jordans and David Lees of the NBA are like the Taco Supremes of the NBA- They are still food and taste ok, but you would never pay 90% of the cost of that tasty steak for them.
Basically, get ready for this Warriors team, the Golden State Taco Supremes, for at least 2 more seasons after this one. There will be several draft picks in the 8-12 range and lot of spin from ownership that they are “So close to being great!”
As a Bay Area native and fan of the team, I hope above all hope that I am proven horribly and terrifically wrong. Unfortunately, this plan had been tried over and over for the previous two decades when the Warriors were comically misled by Cohan. This story does not have a happy ending with playoffs and parades and trophies. I don’t know why I thought that once Cohan had packed his bags and run away to swim in his piles of money that things would magically be different. Permanent Mediocrity never left the building, and it doesn’t appear to be leaving anytime soon.
 I didn’t realize how in love most Dubs fans were with Monta until I read fan reaction to the trade. He is an insane talent, a scoring machine, and is able to play a ton of minutes. But if he is your main scorer, you are not a championship team, and likely a lottery team. He was really fun to watch despite all the losing, and I wish Monta success wherever he ends up.
 Random story about Andris Biedrins. Back during his 2nd or 3rd year, when he was actually good, one of my good friends was watching the Warriors with his dad. During this game, Biedrins had a good hustle play, and my friends dad exclaimed “WHO IS BEEKINS GUY!?” So now my friend and I affectionately call him Beekins. I encourage everyone to try it out. FYI, he has played 567 minutes this season, and has ATTEMPTED a whopping 9 free throws. And made 1! As the great Ron Burgandy would say, “I am not even mad, I am impressed!”
 There is no need to trade decent guys on their rookie contracts- they hardly make any money relative to veterans and barely take up any cap room. That is why trading someone like Udoh, even though he is no superstar, makes little sense. Would you rather pay Udoh $8 for the next two years or David Lee $58 for the next four?? These things matter when there is a salary cap!
 Except for the one they owe to Utah, of course.