The Next Big Move

No, I’m not referring to today’s invitation of Vernon Goodridge to training camp. It’s tough to know what to make of this move: I think its probably a standard invitation to someone who’s unlikely to make the roster.  Perhaps it also increases the pressure ever so slightly on Anthony Tolliver. But Goodridge is something that Tolliver is not: a guy who can give you a couple of minutes at center, a shot blocker, and a defensive player with athleticism and quick feet. From his tape I don’t see much offensive potential at the NBA level, although he does run the floor and catch alley oops.  My chief thought on this invitation is “What in the world has happened to Chris Hunter?”  Anyone know?  I thought he proved he was an NBA player last year.

But let’s get back to The Next Big Move.  I sense one coming.  My spidey sense has been tingling ever since the Warriors signed Jannero Pargo, just like it tingled when the Warriors moved Corey Maggette, and I immediately predicted a blockbuster move for a power forward. (I thought it might be Stoudemire, but I’m ecstatic that it’s David Lee.)

Why am I tingling again?  It’s because of an intriguing combination of clues. As a veteran Nellieologist, I happen to know that he loves big 2 guards who can defend.  Here’s a list of 2 guards that Nellie has drafted, traded for or signed beginning with RunTMC:  Mitch Richmond, Mario Elie, Latrell Sprewell, Michael Finley, Greg Buckner, Raja Bell, Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike.  Do you see the theme there?  Every one of those players had the size, the strength, and the WILL to be a shutdown defender.  They also had the size and strength to be versatile:  they could be played against small forwards as well.

Now here’s a few of the small forwards that Nellie has employed in the same period: Vincent Askew, Adrian Griffin, Josh Howard, Matt Barnes.  See the theme there?  Every one of these players was a shutdown defender, and was versatile and tough-minded enough to take on power forwards.

There is only one conclusion that you can draw from these lists:  Don Nelson PRIZES length, strength and defensive ability in his wings.  Having these types of players to shut down the opposing team’s best scorers is one of the chief ways that Nellie creates point-differential.

This current Warriors roster, since the loss of Jackson and Azubuike, is severely lacking in these types of players, these Nellie-ball chess pieces.  Yes, Dorell Wright is a shut-down defender and a terrific addition.  But does he have enough offense to earn starter’s minutes?  And at 6-9″ can he be used to guard 2 guards? I think the answer to both questions is no.

Reggie Williams is 6-5″ and a terrific offensive player, but can he be a shut-down defender?  I think the answer to that is no as well.

Monta Ellis showed last year that he has surprising defensive ability against bigger players.  But does he have the will to battle those bigger players again over the course of the season?  And will his fragile body allow it? Major questions.

The recently signed Charlie Bell is a defensive-minded player.  But at 6-3″ he’s too small to be a shut-down defender on the wings.

The upshot of this is that I believe that when Nellie looks at his current roster he still sees a significant hole:  the need for a big wing who can both score and defend.  Let’s call this Clue #1.

Here are the rest of the clues that have me tingling:

Clue #2: With the recent Pargo and Lin signings, the Warriors currently have 5 players 6-3″ and under on the roster.  This is a very significant imbalance, and one that indicates very strongly to me that one or more of these players is going to be traded before the season starts.

Clue #3: In the recent interview he gave to Greg Papa, new Warriors owner Joe Lacob praised Stephen Curry and David Lee as two very good players, while appearing to slight Monta Ellis.  He also stated his belief that the Warriors needed three stars in order to win, and seemed to hint that Riley was working on something big.

Clue #4:  I’m going to throw everything Monta Ellis into this clue: The drawbacks to his pairing with Stephen Curry in the backcourt, not least of which is his own doubt about his role; his past disgruntlement with the organization; his head-butting with Don Nelson over playing point-guard; his fury over the drafting of Curry; his initial freezing out of Curry; his general aloofness and lack of leadership with his teammates; resentment over no longer being the face of the franchise.

And this: his deafening silence since the blockbuster addition of David Lee.

Clue #5: Some very intriguing small forwards have been featured in trade rumors lately.  Of most interest to Warriors commentators and fans are Carmelo Anthony and Andre Iguodala.  But I think it’s extremely unlikely the Warriors wind up with either of them.

All signs point to Carmelo Anthony leaving Denver soon:  His reluctance to sign an extension, the firing of the Denver front office, the owner’s statement that he would not allow Carmelo to hold the Nuggets hostage like Lebron did the Cavs.  But how does Carmelo get to the Warriors?  It is difficult to see how Monta Ellis fits in a backcourt with Billups, Lawson and JR Smith.  And assuming Carmelo would want to come to the Warriors as opposed to the Knicks, as is rumored, does he want to give up his leverage before going to free agency?

Andre Iguodala plays the same position as Evan Turner.  But I think there are two reasons he doesn’t wind up on the Warriors.  First and foremost, he can’t shoot.  I don’t think Nellie takes a 31% three point shooting wing player on his team.  Secondly, Monta is a horrible fit for Philly.  They already have a very promising point guard, Jrue Holiday.

Clue #6: Which leaves my candidate:

Danny Granger is rumored to be on the block in Indiana.  They just drafted a small forward with the 10th pick, Paul George, who they are very high on, particularly after his lights-out showing in the summer league.  They also have Mike Dunleavy coming back, and as much as they’d like to move him, they won’t be able to.

Indiana also has a desperate need for a point guard that is keeping Larry Bird up at nights.  Reading between the lines, I do not believe TJ Ford will be their starting point guard by the time the season begins.  Trading Granger for Monta Ellis makes a lot of sense for the Pacers.

And as for Granger on the Warriors?  Oh boy.  A lights-out shooter with the size and quickness to get his shot off in the playoffs.  A shut-down wing defender with the size and versatility to guard not just 2s and 3s, but also 4s in the small ball unit.  You’d have to think the Warriors would do this trade in a heartbeat. Nellie has praised Granger effusively in the past. He’s a quintessential Nellie two-way wing baller. Slotting him in at the three would allow Reggie Williams to take over the starting 2 guard position, and Dorell Wright to come off the bench.  And immediately allow the Warriors to start thinking about the next level:

Contention.

38 Responses to The Next Big Move

  1. I’m guessing we won’t know anything until August 22nd, when they can trade Gad, Rad, and/or Bell?

  2. (I keep forgetting to turn WordPress off)

    Ellis is in an odd position. Last year he had every reason to think the team would be built around him. But he didn’t want to run the team — as I recall, this was his main contention, that Nelson was trying to get him to do to much (I recall a quote of his to this effect). And the team, which didn’t do much last year trade-wise, has gone through major rebuilding — but not around him. Now he’s going to have to assume a supporting role, which I suspect will be hard.

    OK, FB. Let’s assume he got what he wanted last year. Even assume they drafted Evans as their big guard or got someone comparable. And assume they got a good PF — Stod, even. And for the sake of argument, assume health to make it work. Jax, then, stays.

    How would they have done?

    I do hope they draft Tolliver — dean’s list all four years. We’d have the highest IQ in NBA.

  3. What about a three-way trade? Is Memphis still hot for Ellis? Do they have anything to offer Indiana? Mayo?

    Ellis to Memphis, Mayo to Indiana, Granger to us, plus whatever pieces are needed for the trades. This way Memphis gets its hometown hero, Indiana saves some bucks and gets potential, and we get Granger.

    I sense something complicated is going on.

  4. It makes sense and would be great if it happened. Both players make about 11 mill and have 4 years on their contracts. Probably too good to be true, but then again it’s a new era.

  5. Yea!!!! Let’s do it!! Man if Riley pulls this off, he should not only keep his job, he sould also be GM of the year!!!!

  6. That whole post is based on a move that Nellie would want. Felt, sounds like you’re assuming Nellie is in fact going to stay for the year. Maybe you have some inside info? Sounds okay with me.

    Don’t agree with everything in your Clue #4 though. The problems Monta had with Curry, management, and Nellie are long over. I’m even guessing he’s one of those wanting Nellie to return.

    And I think Monta is more humble than what everyone makes him out to be. He gets a bad rap cuz folks think he’s aloof when he’s simply reserved.

    I have five games from last year still on my Tivo. I’ve been watching them slowly over the break to hold me over til the season starts. I’m currently watching the Sacramento game where CJ was lights out at Oracle. Monta wasn’t playing that game but was there. When the camera panned to the bench after a great play you could see Monta cheering right with the rest of the guys.

    And don’t forget this quote from last October: “You can’t take anything away from him,” Ellis said of Curry. “He can shoot, pass, defend, all of that. He’s got the whole package. … He’s better than I thought he was.” Monta was impressed with Curry from very early on when others would have us think otherwise.

    And regarding the “deafening silence” about the David Lee signing, didn’t Larry Riley say he talked with Monta recently and was told that he’s excited about playing with Lee?

    And when asked specifically about Monta being with the team much longer, didn’t Riley say something like ‘Oh, don’t worry, he’ll be there on opening day’? Of course we all know that can change at any time.

    Anyway, I guess I just really wanted to throw some kind words out there for Monta. I would really miss his style of play if he’s gone.

  7. Toliver to sign w Timberwolves on a two year deal, or so I just heard.

  8. Looks like its true.

    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/08/06/agent-tolliver-to-sign-with-minnesota/

    Probably more money and more playing time, so its good for him. But too bad for us. I think he’s a winning basketball player.

    How long before he beats Kevin Love out? :>

  9. One other thought: Does the willingess of the Warriors to let Tolliver go signal their interest in one more big move prior to the season? Specifically to add another defensive 3 with swing 4 versatility? Is this Clue #7?

    Note that Coach K has spoken specifically about using Granger at the 4 on the US team:

    “In Granger you have a solid pro; in the NBA a three or a four, and for us a three or a four, but somebody who really stretches the defense,” said U.S. head coach Mike Krzyzewski in a teleconference after the announcement. “He’s an outstanding shooter and a really good guy. You know, he’s an easy guy to play with. He doesn’t need the ball for long periods of time. … Granger can really shoot the ball.”
    http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/granger_usa_100728.html

    It will be interesting to see if it happens. I would definitely rather play Wallace/Granger/Iguodala at 4 than Kevin Love.

  10. Well, crap. We lost a good interview, too:

  11. OMG! How could he do that to us?! Someone get me an Anthony Toliver jersey cuz I got an urge to light it on fire!

    I hope Lacob has a response to this.

  12. I am curious what happened. Tolliver represented a decent, hard working player with a variety of skills. He also represented some size and strength on a team that’s short on these, especially if you-know-what happens (I won’t say it).

    I assume we didn’t offer that much, because he really sounded like he wanted to stay. We’ll never know, but whose decision was it? I thought Nelson was high on him. Or does this mean, as Feltbot says, something else is in the offing?

    Apparently Minnesota really wanted him — but they have a lot of guys the same size. I hope it works out for him. I liked him a great deal, and his character, enthusiasm, and work effort were assets on and off the bench.

    His Minnesota game must have been what sold them, FB.

  13. No doubt in my mind, nivrag.

  14. FWIW, the Warriors couldn’t offer Tolliver 2.4M, even if they wanted. From http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=17012

    Golden State Warriors
    Current Commitments: $62.6 million
    Remaining Cap Space: $0
    Luxury Tax Status: No
    Mid-Level Exception: $2.2 million available ($3.5 million to Dorrell Wright)
    Bi-Annual Exception: Full amount available
    Traded Player Exception: 2 ($2.0 million – Anthony Morrow; $1.8 million – C.J. Watson)

    However, rumor has it that the 2nd year may have been the real sticking point. Long term, I think we’d rather have a 4/5 in that roster spot. At 6’7″, AT is undersized even for a PF. He seems like a great guy, and I wish him the best of luck in Minnesota.

  15. FB,

    I want this trade to happen. Badly.

    My concern is that Indy might not be willing to do this trade straight up. If you believe otherwise, I’d be thrilled to be wrong because I love this trade.

    Seems like rggblog may have it right about August 22, the key possibly being Gadzuric’s expiring contract. Coupled with B. Wright’s expiring in return for some inferior (but still short-term contract) players, the Pacers could get a net gain in expiring dollars. Plus they’d have a season to see how Brandan plays. These factors could make the Granger for Ellis foundation of this trade more palatable to them.

    Of course, a net loss in expiring dollars might cause the usual BA media types to howl, and I don’t know how the new owners would feel about it. But for the trade you’ve proposed it seems well worth it.

    Whether or not it requires added complexities, I just hope this happens! Thanks, as always, for your insight.

  16. I suppose one combo that could accomplish some of what I posted above without waiting ’til 8/22 would be Ellis and B. Wright for Granger and Solomon Jones. According to ESPN’s trade machine, this would involve our trade exceptions, though it doesn’t explain exactly how.

  17. gm, isn’t vlad rad an expiring also? Given Nellie’s frustration with him last year, I think moving him is a strong possibility as well.

  18. Just realized there’s another versatile 2-way small forward being shopped: Tayshaun Prince. He just turned 30, but he’s a darn good player who would fit perfectly.

    Perhaps we could get him for expirings and keep Monta?

  19. I’d like to have Prince, but if I’m reading things right, his contract itself expires summer 2011. Looks like he makes even more than Monta (at the moment). That’s a big number coming off the Pistons books so I’d have thought that they’re shopping him for talent. Would we have any real talent we’d be willing to give up for him?

    As far as vlad rad: yes, he’s an expiring which may be helpful, and I’d also think the Ws would like to move him. With a full season left to go on his contract, my question is whether anyone wants him yet (sorry, harsh). The reason I proposed Gadzuric was because, at least as far as PER goes, he might be a slight upgrade over some of the guys Indi could send back to us in an Ellis/Granger deal. And B. Wright’s potential is still arguably an open question.

    Of course the more time that goes by, the less import teams looking for cap space will place on the ability of those with expiring deals. If my favorite coach is to get a final shot, he may not get a lot of time to make hay. Though I like his chances to get impressive results with what we’ve already got, Granger could -strike that- WOULD be tranformational!

  20. (tranSformational)
    (dammit)

  21. I really don’t know what we can expect to get from Gadzuric on the court. However, we currently only have 2 true centers on our roster. I know Lee has experience there, but I don’t like counting on a starter to also back up another position. Before we can seriously consider trading him, we should sign another center. A list of remaining FA bigs, from http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=17026

    Power Forwards – Louis Amundson, Joe Smith, Brian Skinner, Fabricio Oberto, Jonathan Bender, Ike Diogu, Brian Scalabrine

    Centers – Kwame Brown, Earl Barron, Josh Boone, Francisco Elson, Etan Thomas, Primoz Brezec, Jarron Collins, D.J. Mbenga, Steven Hunter, Randolph Morris, Patrick O’Bryant

  22. Petaluman, there is no doubt that Lee will get significant minutes at center while Udoh is out. Perhaps all of the minutes that Biedrins doesnt
    take, depending on how much Nellie likes Gadz. I think if the Warriors had landed Tolliver cheaply, they would have gone with the frontline they have. It will be interesting to see where Nellie/Riley go from here, but I still think SF is the priority.

  23. Biedrins speaks! An outspoken interview:

    http://www.warriorsworld.net/andris-biedrins-speaks-out/

    I sense he is very disappointed to have lost Turiaf. And is it just me, or does he still not get the free throw thing?

  24. “The guy you gotta trade, after reading this, is Biedrins. All this guy wants to do is retire before he hits 30 and then party for the duration. I’ve often questioned his mental and physical toughness and this interview just confirms my beliefs. Does the name Joe Barely Cares (Joe Barry Carroll) ring a bell? Biedrins might as well be his twin brother. ”

    Felt, I posted the above on Marcus Thompson’s site. Needless to say, as a Warriors fan, I’m not happy with this guy, and I don’t envision my sentiments changing any time soon. I was really psyched a few years ago about Biedrins, but slowly but surely he’s changed my opinion in regards to his long term value to GSW.

    His game has become more and more finesse, and his desire to do whatever it takes to win on and off the court has been evaporating faster than the water from a desert flash flood.

    I didn’t like the stories of his partying with Latvian teammates during their summer games last year, to the point he was canned from the team. It was a disturbing and very revealing look at his maturity and even moreso his desire to work and become the best player possible.

    Sorry, but after reading his comments to go along with my ever-changing feelings from watching him play in recent years, this guy is an absolute clone of Joe Barry Carroll: soft and all about the money. From where I sit, that’s the worst possible combination a professional athlete could ever have.

    If this indeed is the beginning of a new, brighter era for this franchise (making smart basketball decisions), Lacob and Co. have to trade Biedrins ASAP. The Joe Barely Cares of the world are NEVER the ones hoisting championship trophies at seasons end.

  25. Chris Bosh, after Toronto’s first loss to us, while they were still in the playoffs:

    “Just do it. Act like you care,” he said. “I’m going down playing offense on (the Warriors) side of the court and their bench is louder than we are. That doesn’t make any sense. They’re not playing for anything.”

    Some talk about how bad Nelson’s relationship with the team is. I don’t believe it. One of the joys last season was seeing how much they all were into every game, up to the last one, and it was as much fun to watch the bench as the team on the floor. They were always overmatched but never dispirited. Watch Devean George in highlights of the Portland game. (Speaking of Devean . . . .)

    I wonder about Biedrins’ comments about the team — or wonder who he was talking about (Ellis?). I suspect the game and the injuries are getting to him. He went to a psychiatrist! This may be the case for Vlad Rad and Brandon Wright as well (and maybe Anthony Randolph before long). They are all tall but slender players in a frankly brutal game, who have to play positions where bulk and strength most show themselves.

    All the more reason to have kept Tolliver. I’ll always remember that game where he held off two players so Curry could get his tenth rebound for his triple double.

    Also a cause for regret about losing Maggette, in spite of all.

  26. We still have 2 open roster spots, so we could sign both a big and a forward. It’s quite possible we won’t use both spots. However, we’re already down to 4+ bigs who will be ready to play the season opener: AB, DG, DL, BW, and VR. Any more injuries and we could be seeing DW or RW playing PF.

    Prince is an $11M expiring contract, so the Pistons won’t trade him unless they get instant cap relief and/or young talent.

  27. Ugh! WordPress has changed the format of my blog without warning, and notified me after the fact in a long email that gives me a bunch of html code to plug in myself if I want to fix what they’ve “fixed.” I apologize for the mess, and will try and recover my blog in the next few days.

  28. Tolliver is a celebrity now. That YouTube announcement has had more than 160,000 hits since he posted it Friday.

    And we lost him . . . .

  29. From Steve’s article (thanks) and the KNBR interview:

    “We, I think, have two really good players here to work with here as a young core, and of course I’m speaking of (David) Lee and Curry,” said Lacob, a former minority owner of the Boston Celtics who is a partner at the Bay Area-based venture capitalist firm KPCB. “And I think we’ve got some other pretty good players, too. Monta (Ellis) is in fact a great talent, obviously, and (Andris) Biedrins is a great talent. But we’ve got to figure out a great core three. And I think with that, at some point the right move will happen (and) I think we can possibly build a tremendous team out of this that could last a long time.”

    My take:
    Lacob weighs all sides and considers his words judiciously. As much as a vote of confidence in Lee and Curry, it is also a statement of what kind of team he wants, how he wants them to play, and who and what kinds of players he wants to lead it. It is the plan the Nelson has wanted and Feltbot has been describing all along. His message to Ellis: can you fit into this with your considerable skills? To Biedrins: are you healthy and ready to step up?

    Lacob is not going to experiment and try things out, such as coaches, considering next year as a rebuilding season. He wants to hit the ground running.

    Nelson is going to start the season.

  30. Thanks as always for the links and commentary, guys. Nivrag, I agree with you, and my attitude has been and will continue to be that Don Nelson is the presumptive coach (and co-GM) of the Warriors.

  31. The significance of Curry’s family excursion to Nellie’s Maui home, described in Steve’s link, has just struck me. Curry is telling the owners, in his own way, that he wants Nellie back. Curry has cast his vote. Can there be any other explanation for the exquisite timing of this visit?

    One can hardly blame him. Like Sidney Moncrief, Tim Hardaway, Avery Johnson and Steve Nash before him, Curry wants to spend as much time as possible learning under the Old Master’s wing.

  32. Curry wasn’t hot on the Warriors — I think his father is friends with Rod Higgins? And of course their reputation. He didn’t even work out with the team. And Nelson didn’t need another guard last summer.

    But look at what Nelson and the team allowed him to do last year. Nelson has been quite open in his praise of Curry, and Curry has repeatedly stated his fondness for the team and Nelson. Nelson liked what Curry represented. Part of the battle was getting the rest of the team to accept this — and injuries helped.

    If you’re a Curry fan, and I am, he couldn’t have had a better opportunity than with Nelson and the Warriors. I’m sure he wants this to continue.

    Imagine what would have happened had Curry been drafted by another team, say Denver — or most others. He wouldn’t have had a chance to develop and show his stuff. (I always thought Lawson was the PG from that draft, but have since changed my mind.) I wonder if other players aren’t better than we realize (Tolliver?) but don’t get a chance to develop.

    I’m still curious why Nelson benched Curry in the game at Madison Square Garden. Curry really wanted to go to New York and play for the Knicks. My guess is it was some kind of appeasement for Jax, or maybe he wanted to show Jax off — it was the weekend before his trade.

  33. Curry:

    I suspect we all had better tone it down. We’re (I am) setting a lot of expectations on Curry. He’ll only be a sophomore, and other teams will key in on him now. He’s going to need help in the backcourt, and it’s got to come from –

    Ellis.

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