Life’s a Bitch
Disaster strikes on the eve of free agency in June, 2008. A single decision launches a series of unfortunate events that leave Warriors fans wondering which level of Hell they’ve been roaming in for the last 15 seasons. Baron opts out of his contract on the eve of free agency after Robert Rowell rejects the extension that Mullin negotiated with Davis. Rowell panics and tries to throw money at Gilbert Arenas, of all people, and Elton Brand. Without Davis’ $17 million on the books, the Warriors decide to overspend for Corey Maggette, five years $50 million. Stephen Jackson realizes it’s the perfect time for him to butter up Rowell for an unnecessary extension and gets three years tacked onto his once tradable contract. Now the Warriors have Maggette and Jackson for the next five years. Well, the next four years because they will most likely trade the expiring contracts in the last year of their respective deals. To top it all off, the Warriors trade a disgruntled Harrington, who has an attractive contract, for Jamal Crawford, a player with three more seasons left on his deal. A lot of teams would have been interested in Stephen Jackson and his contract before the extension. Here are some of the possible trade scenarios for Jackson:
* Jackson to Cleveland for Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring deal
* Jackson, Harrington and Belinelli to Phoenix for Amare Stoudemire.
* Jackson, Harrington and Player X to Miami for Sean Marion
Instead, the Warriors have returned to square one: A team with no payroll flexibility and a coach who has a horrible track record at developing young players.
Send in the tanks
Warriors fans love their team. They are recognized nationally for their passion and basketball IQ. The dubious actions of the team’s management should not be rewarded and that’s what would happen if the Warriors closed out the season with a hot streak. Management could write off the early season performance as due to injuries and that the second half of the season proved that the Warriors could compete for a playoff spot. The Warriors future is Anthony Randolph, Monta Ellis and Brandan Wright and Andris Biedrins, if he’s not traded. Unfortunately, Don Nelson is trying to win every game, he’s only 30 some games short of becoming the winningest NBA coach ever, so Randolph, Wright (when healthy), Belinelli, et al. aren’t playing the minutes needed to develop. It is time to raise the white flag and focus on player development. As a Warriors fan, who do you want to see on the court? Anthony Randolph or Corey Maggette? Jamal Crawford or Marco Belinelli? When was the last time the Warriors were mentioned as a possible championship team? Making the playoffs is great, especially after you’ve been on the outside for 13 seasons, but making the playoffs is a moral victory. I want a real victory. I want to hang a championship banner in the Oracle. This season is over. Next season? Over. The season after that? Over. It’s time to see if Anthony Randolph lives up to the hype and play him 30+ minutes a night, no matter what it does to the W-L record. Can he be the keystone for a championship caliber team? There is only one way to find out, play the man.
Here is my starting five for the rest of the season:
Point Guard: Monta (Belinelli if Monta is out)
Shooting Guard: The Wizard of Azubuike
Small Forward: Stack Jack
Power Forward: Randolph
Will they get demolished by bigger teams? Does that even matter? Maggette is already coming off the bench as he should. Crawford should also come off the bench.
Hopefully, his playing time being cut will encourage him to opt out of his contract this summer. Who doesn’t like that!? Stephen Jackson needs to play less minutes. He got his extension, so let’s make sure he’s healthy enough to make it through the life of the contract. The Warriors don’t need Jackson to play 42 minutes every night just so they might win 29 games instead of 24 games.
The Warriors have done a lot of things wrong to get to this point. There is no easy solution to right the ship and now is the time to do things the right way. The problem is that it means being patient and enduring a lot of losing basketball. Warriors fans have endured plenty of losing over the years, can’t ownership at least make it worth our while?