Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team's offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.
Trades and Claims
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
Like the Bucks, whose offseason we reviewed over the weekend, the Warriors entered the summer having already made their blockbuster move of 2012. In fact, the Bucks were Golden State's trading partner back in March when both teams decided to part ways with longtime centerpieces. Monta Ellis headed for Milwaukee, with the Warriors landing a potential All-Star center in Andrew Bogut.
The move was certainly not the safe play for the Warriors. Ellis was an established 20 PPG scorer in a league where those players are rare. Golden State also hard to give up a young big with upside, Ekpe Udoh, to finalize the deal. The biggest concern of all though was Bogut's health -- recovering from a broken ankle when the trade was made, Bogut didn't even see the floor for the Warriors in 2011/12.
For a team whose star player, Stephen Curry, was already dealing with ankle injuries, acquiring another potentially injury-prone star actually helped the Warriors in the short-term. Golden State's finish in the spring of 2012 was so dismal that the club lucked into the No. 7 overall pick in the draft lottery, ensuring that the top-seven-protected selection wouldn't be sent to the Jazz.
In the long-term? Bogut's injury woes are a bit more concerning. His surgically repaired ankle is still giving him trouble, and while Andrew Bynum's knee problems in Philadelphia are receiving more media attention and coverage, the situation with Bogut in Golden State is somewhat similar. The former first overall pick is under contract for an additional year, through 2014, but after suffering multiple major injuries throughout his career, there are questions about how much production the Warriors will ultimately receive from Bogut.
Still, like the pre-Bynum Sixers, the Warriors weren't on their way to becoming an elite team with Ellis leading the way, so even if Bogut doesn't pan out, the trade represented a worthwhile risk for Golden State. For teams that don't attract big-name free agents or luck their way into superstars in the draft, a certain number of gambles are necessary in order to try to build a championship contender. The Warriors were likely operating under that mindset when they reached a surprise extension agreement with Curry just before the Halloween deadline.
The years and dollars for Curry, four years at $44MM, are sizable considering the trouble the sharpshooter has had staying on the court. Still, if he had remained healthy through 2012/13, there could easily have been max-salary offers awaiting Curry in restricted free agency next summer. As such, the Warriors' decision to lock him up represents another calculated gamble, with the team doubling down on injury risks and moving forward with Curry and Bogut at its core.
With or without those two stars on the court, this team has plenty of talent from top to bottom. Klay Thompson was one of the most impressive rookies in the NBA last season, and was a popular pick to take another step forward and be the league's Most Improved Player this season. The aforementioned seventh overall pick that the team managed to keep turned into Harrison Barnes, who is already playing significant minutes for the club and could turn into a mainstay at the three spot. David Lee is overpaid and isn't a strong defender, but he's certainly a capable scorer and rebounder at the four.
The Warriors also made a series of offseason moves to bring in veteran help to complement a starting lineup that's talented but injury-prone. Carl Landry's two-year, $8MM deal was one of my favorite signings of the summer, and should work out well for the Warriors even if Landry opts out of the second year next summer. Brandon Rush's identical two-year contract also looked like a coup for the Warriors, though Rush suffered an early-season ACL injury that will keep him out for the season.
Golden State's only trade of the summer was a minor one, with the Warriors sending Dorell Wright to the Sixers in a deal that landed them Jarrett Jack. I like Wright, but with Barnes and Rush on board, there weren't going to be enough minutes to go around. And Jack was exactly the sort of player the team needed -- a tough veteran who will provide insurance at the point and is more than capable of starting if Curry has to miss time.
With players like Curry, Thompson, and Barnes still in the developmental stages, the Warriors aren't on the verge of contending for a title this season. However, the roster is well-constructed enough that even relatively good health should put Golden State in position to fight for a postseason berth. The team is rolling the dice by building around players with injury histories like Curry and Bogut, but those sort of gambles are sometimes necessary to acquire and retain elite talent. Now it's just a matter of waiting to see whether those gambles pay off.