Friday, July 11, 2008


I came across this piece by Robert W. McChesney on that captured the essence of what I believe to be the correct path to building a legitimate contender. His detailed article entitled, The Superstar Theory: Revisited and Supercharged, Part 1 illustrates how important patience and the wherewithal to avoid the temptation of targeting mediocre talent that blows valuable cap space and puts teams out of the running for a high draft pick. More often then not, short term gains and instant gratification lead to just a playoff appearance and the spinning of wheels.

A few excepts:

.....What did Ainge understand? What did Ainge do? He understood that the basis for winning an NBA title is having a superstar in his prime. Not an all-star, or a bunch of all-stars, but a superstar. There are only a few in the game at any time so they are almost impossible to get. But he went and got one. He did so by carefully developing young players – aside from Paul Pierce the cupboard was bare in 2003 when he took the reins of the team -- and not being obsessed with short-term performance. By 2007 he had the chips to keep Paul Pierce and still get Kevin Garnett, and to surround him Ray Allen. He moved quickly and decisively in some of the most brilliant GM work in any sport in history.

.....The importance of having a player-for-the-ages in his prime to winning an NBA title, or even contending, is astonishing. Yet, as I stated at the top, most fans and many NBA GMs fail to grasp this. Fans root crazily for modest incremental improvements, failing to see that by getting a lesser chance at a high draft pick or by squandering cap space they are only digging their hole that much deeper. GMs similarly obsessed by marginal improvement fail to take steps to improve their chances of actually winning a title.

McChesney goes on to rank the best players to ever play in the NBA. The three main components in the ranking formula are MVP voting, All-NBA voting, and All-Defensive Team voting. Players are classified as Gold, Silver, and Bronze Superstars.

Click here to see the results of Part I of The Superstar Theory: Revisited and Supercharged.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Alas, my man-crush on Josh Smith must end here. Apparently, the Warriors don't think highly of his game and perhaps feel that Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph can adequately address the defensive and rebounding needs the Warriors so desperately need. I would have loved to have seen a front line rotation of Smith, Wright, Randolph, and Biedrins, but that won't be happening on Mullin's watch. Big mistake, in my opinion. Smith is a much better shooter than Wright and has already proven that he brings it on the defensive end. Warriors could have traded Wright for a great PG or SG somewhere down the line. This was a missed opportunity to make this team a whole lot better.

Sadly, I move on.

The Current Roster:

With no more big moves expected for the Warriors this offseason (according to Nellie), we are left to guess what could be the remaining transactions to fill up the rest of the roster. As it stands (assuming Ronny Turiaf's offer sheet is not matched by the Lakers) the roster looks like this:

PG: Monta Ellis / C.J. Watson
SG: Stephen Jackson / Marco Belinelli
SF: Corey Maggette / Anthony Randolph
PF: Al Harrington / Brandan Wright / Richard Hendrix
C: Andris Biedrins / Ronny Turiaf / Kosta Perovic

With the addition of Maggette, the Warriors gain a scorer that can hit the 3-pointer, penetrate zones, and get to the line at will. He's strong enough to finish after contact, makes his freethrows, andis a good rebounder from the SG/SF position. What he doesn't bring to the table is defense and the ability to make his teammates better. He has a reputation for dominating the ball in one-on-one situations leaving his teammates standing around watching him work.

Turiaf is a good addition to the front line and will act as Biedrins' primary backup at center. He is agile, athletic, strong, and bulky which makes him a great compliment to the rest of the skinny PF's and C's on the roster. Same goes for the second round draft pick Richard Hendrix. He's a tough rebounder and shot blocker with some post up skills. He'll be able to backup the PF's and shift to C when the Warriors go small.

Anthony Randolph might be a year or two away from contributing, but you can't count him out considering he's a near 7-footer that can handle the ball and shoot a bit from the outside. Nellie coveted him and commented that he would have chosen him with the #1 pick (the mystery player in his KNBR interview). Randolph could be a big-time mismatch weapon that could be unleashed later in the season if Nellie feels he's ready.

With the departure of Baron Davis the Warriors lose a leader that made the game easier for the rest of the players on the court. He directed the club, took on double teams that freed up others, and often played clutch ball down the stretches of tight games. He was the player mostly responsible for the unbelievable chemistry that made the Warriors fun to watch. Fans knew it was going to end some time, but many did not expect it to come this offseason.

Monta is forced to move to PG, a position he needs to excel at if he is to be considered one of the greats in the NBA. He is too small to dominate at SG, but if he can learn to run the club and make others around him better, he will be a future All-Star. An inordinate amount of pressure is heaped on the 22 year old's shoulders, and if Monta can't pull it off, the Warriors are likely to suffer. Jackson will shift over to SG to try and take some of the ball-handling pressure off Ellis' hands. His length will also be an asset as defensive help on the perimeter.

Wright and Belinelli are slated to get more playing time, so their energy will be a great addition to the rotation. Wright brings rebounding and shot blocking while not bogging down the offense. Belinelli can light it up from outside with three point barrages 30 feet from the basket.

Remaining Priorities:
  1. Acquire a backup PG with true point guard skills
  2. Acquire perimeter defender
  3. Add depth at SF
I believe this team is not good enough to make it to the playoffs and not bad enough to luck out and win the lottery, so the Warriors might as well try and fill the roster with cheap, young talent with upside and short deals. With only 3 roster spots left, here is what the Warriors should do to address the remaining priorities:

1. Backup PG: Take a chance on Shaun Livingston. He's going to be low risk, high reward type of acquisition, but don't expect to see much of him on the court this season. He has amazing talent at only 22 years old but is still on his long road to recovery coming off that major knee injury. Currently, he is able to take part in 1-on-1 contract drills and is doing dunking drills. Sign him to a cheap multi-year deal with incentives. Monta needs to be thrown into the fire, so to speak, and must embrace the PG position. C.J. Watson will back him up until Livingston is ready to step back onto the court. Others to consider: Sebastian Telfair, Keyon Dooling, Carlos Arroyo

2. Perimeter Defender: Kelenna Azubuike is a must re-sign. He is a tough defender with strength, skill, fearless mentality, court awareness, and athleticism. He can be the primary backup SG but can also add depth to the SF position. Azubuike proved to be a valuable asset to the Warriors down the stretch and is someone the Warriors shouldn't let walk away. If no one offers him a deal over $3.5 million, the Warriors should match and bring him back. Others to consider: DeMarcus Nelson, Jamont Gordon, Tony Allen

3. SF Depth: Walter Herrmann isn't exactly young, but he's definitely Nelson's kind of player. He's tall and athletic with a scorer's mentality. He's a very good three point shooter and good rebounder from the 3 spot. Because of his size, he could be used at PF to create additional mismatches coming off the bench. In Nellie's system, you can never have too many 3-point shooters. Others to consider: Antoine Wright, Bostjan Nachbar, Pat Calathes

Proposed Roster:

PG: Monta Ellis / C.J. Watson / Shaun Livingston
SG: Stephen Jackson / Kelenna Azubuike / Marco Belinelli
SF: Corey Maggette / Walter Herrmann / Anthony Randolph
PF: Al Harrington / Brandan Wright / Richard Hendrix
C: Andris Biedrins / Ronny Turiaf / Kosta Perovic

Estimated Salary:

(click to enlarge image)

With many of the swingmen being able to play mulitple positions, there's a lot of versatility in this lineup, but admittedly, there will be some weakness at the point guard position until Livingston can gradually log in some minutes off the bench. There will be some growing pains for this team that just lost it's leader, but with the three final additions to the roster, there is talent, deficiencies addressed, cap flexibility maintained, and hope for the future.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Wow. Mullin really pulled the trigger quickly on a number of deals after finding out that Brand would not be accepting the Warriors' near max offer. The additions of Corey Maggette and Ronny Turiaf aren't bad if you're looking to become a perennial late lottery team. If Maggette is the #1 free agent acquisition, the franchise's future is not looking too good. Mullin needs to do one more big signing to give the fans hope for the future and possibly contend this year for the Western Conference Finals.


Sign Keyon Dooling to a 3 yr / $9.3 million deal.
Sign DeMarcus Nelson if he impresses in Summer League.

Warriors Trade with Hawks:

In: Josh Smith, Speedy Claxton
Out: Al Harrington, Kosta Perovic, 2009 1st Round Pick

In: Al Harrington, Kosta Perovic, 2009 1st Round Pick
Out: Josh Smith, Speedy Claxton

Smith is signed to a 6 year / $85.9 million deal. Smith sees the promising group of players Mullin has assembled including the recently acquired Maggette and Turiaf. His preference to not play under coach Woodson has been well documented and he may be able to push for a sign and trade scenerio by threatening to take the qualifying offer and walk away for nothing in 2009. Josh Smith wants to be part of the run and gun style, so he agrees to do the sign and trade netting him the maximum pay raise of 10.5% per year (avg. $14.3 mil/yr).

We have to take the Claxton deal as incentive for the Hawks to do the sign and trade. He can be bought out if he is unable to contribute.

Rather than losing Smith for nothing, the Hawks get an extra 1st Round Pick in 2009 in addition to a versatile PF that can spread the floor in Harrington, and a back up center in Perovic. If push came to shove, the Warriors could throw in Brandan Wright instead of the #1 pick or take back something of value in addition to Smith.

(click to enlarge)

Golden State Warriors 2008-2009:

01. Monta Ellis
02. Corey Maggette
03. Stephen Jackson
04. Josh Smith
05. Andris Biedrins

06. Brandan Wright
07. Ronny Turiaf
08. Marco Belinelli
09. Keyon Dooling
10. Richard Hendrix
11. Anthony Randolph
12. C.J. Watson
13. DeMarcus Nelson

14. Speedy Claxton
15. Open

Warriors stay under the Luxury Tax and have a good mix of youth and vets. There is still room to add one more player, perhaps a veteran like Austin Croshere, who's salary doesn't count towards the luxury tax. Or, the Warriors could leave the slot open for more flexibility during the season.

This is a team that would sell a ton of tickets and compete every night. A team like this would be exciting to watch, has a lot of promise with young guys waiting in the wings, and is a true PG away from being a championship contending team down the line.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


H: 6' 6"
W: 218 lbs
Bday: 11/12/1979
(28 Years Old)

Current: SG/SF
Possible: SG/SF
Agent: Rob Pelinka

High School: Fenwick
Hometown: Melrose Park, IL
Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick 13 in 1999 by Supersonics

Game Log

I'm struggling mightily with this signing. I like Corey Maggette, but that deal the Warriors gave him is way more than we needed to pay. There's got to be more to this deal. There's got to be a 5th Yr. Team Option included which explains the extra $18m over 5 years we paid to 'steal' him from contending teams with only the MLE. I pray this is a stepping stone to a bigger deal. If it is, kudos to you Mullin.

I needed some cheering up after hearing the news, so I scoured the Internet to find something that would make me feel better about this signing. Here's what I found:

From TrueHoop comments regarding Maggette's worth....

Homedog21007 (4 hours ago)

I disagree with Steinmetz. Maggette is worth 5 years at $40 million. Easily ... I have a simple way of estimating a player's worth. Take his PER rank (Maggette was 34th last year), find out what the 34th-highest paid player gets (that will be $14 million this year) and then you have an idea of the going rate. So if you sign the turns-29-in-November Corey Maggette to an $8 million annual contract for the next five years, you are getting yourself quite a bargain, especially if he continues to put up PER stats that are worth $14 million annually on a NBA-championship contender ... If the Spurs get Maggette (a 19-to-20 PER guy the last five seasons), they could have the greatest quartet in the history of basketball. Name me another team that had four 20-plus PER performers.

From ESPN's Scouting Report:

2006-07 season: After talking for most of the season about trading Maggette and harping on all his deficiencies, the Clippers realized halfway through the season that he's actually pretty good. Maggette played only 27.4 minutes per game prior to the All-Star break but 35.9 afterward, as the Clippers increasingly relied on his slashing skills to energize a sluggish offense.

Maggette is insanely good at getting to the free-throw line, and last season was one of his best in that department. He averaged 0.78 free-throw attempts per field goal attempt, improving on his previous mark of 0.68.

His mark was the best in the league of any perimeter player for the second straight season; it also was the best among players who averaged at least 15 points per 40 minutes (see chart) -- not even Shaq could match it. Overall, only three limited big men (Reggie Evans, Jason Collins and Leon Powe) outpaced Maggette in this department.

Scouting report: Maggette has an amazingly quick first step going to his right, and is so powerful once he gets moving that it's difficult to thwart him without fouling. But it's tough to overplay him for the drive because he's also a decent outside shooter. Maggette has tended to shoot too many contested jumpers in recent years, but last season he refocused on attacking the rim and ended up with an even greater free-throw bounty.

Maggette's drives rarely result in passes, however. He gets tunnel vision once he puts it on the floor and has earned a rep as a selfish player. That said, he did post a career-high assist ratio last season. As you might expect for a player who drives so much, Maggette also makes a lot of turnovers.

Most similar at age: Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce, not bad. I've always admired how Mags attacked the basket and got to the line at will. I wanted Jason Richardson to play the same way. He hits his free throws, he gets the other team in foul trouble, he's an above average shooter with a high True Shooting %, he rebounds adequately for his position, and he is athletic enough to excel in the Warriors' style of basketball. A few stat rankings:

PTS = 22.1 (#11)
3P% = .384 (#49)
RPG = 5.6 (#56)
AST = 2.7 (#65)
STPG = 1.01 (#57)
FG% = .458 (#140)
ADJ FG% = .497 (#74)
FT% = .812 (#92)
PER = 19.43 (#34)
TS% = .595 (#30)
USG = 25.1 (#21)
EFF = 19.2 (#45)
PPS = 1.55 (#5)

Hopefully, Maggette's 3 point shooting percentage stays in the same range. His scoring average should hold or increase a bit with the uptempo offense that is in contrasts to the Clipper's deliberate style of play. If he can stay healthy (a big if, considering he averages 64 games per season) he might be worthy of his contract.

Maggette alone, however, is not going to make the Warriors a playoff team. They need to bring in a true PG to help Monta Ellis, they need to shore up their defense, and they need more playmakers as well. As of now, we are a mediocre team not good enough for the playoffs and not bad enough to land one of the top picks in the draft. We are back in no-man's land drafting in the 9 through 14 range.

PG: Monta Ellis / C.J. Watson
SG: Stephen Jackson / Marco Belinelli
SF: Corey Maggette / Anthony Randolph
PF: Al Harrington / Brandan Wright
C: Andris Biedrins / Kosta Perovic

I was hoping for more than Maggette as the big free agent signing and fear we may have missed our chance to land a future star like Josh Smith. I guess there is still time and moves to be made, but Mullin needs to give the fans more than just Maggette if he hopes to avoid a mass exodus of season ticket holders in 2009. Right now, I'm not convinced it will happen.

Corey Magette Mix by Dwanewade75015
From: dwanewade75015

Monday, July 7, 2008


Baron Davis is gone so what looked like the Warriors' best chance to compete for a Western Conference Finals appearance has morphed into the beginnings of a rebuilding process. Chris Mullin now has the most available cap space of any team under the salary cap. He's like a kid in the candy store, but there are only a few worthy free agents this summer that Mullin should throw his money at.

Fans are saddened by sudden departure of their star player to LA, and many put the blame on the Warriors front office for not giving Baron anything close to the extension he felt he deserved. Mullin did not feel that a 5 year / $65 million deal was worth offering because of his injury history, even though he played all 82 games last season. Mullin feels the pressure to bring in a big name like Arenas and Brand and is paying far too much for them if you consider their age and injury history. Any injury setback will cripple future movements and there is going to be a natural downturn in productivity with Brand. The Warriors should steer clear of such a deal for the same reasons they decided not to extend Baron Davis.

With the Warriors in rebuilding mode, they should look for the best young talent to have grow along with the already promising players on the roster. They need a rising star who's peak playing years will coincide with that of the rest of the roster. They need a player that can get the fans excited about going to games, even if the result isn't likely to be pretty. There are only two that fit the bill in this free agency and they are both Restricted Free Agents, Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith. They need to acquire one of those two players and build around them, making the necessary moves and signings to assemble the best possible team with the best chance to eventually compete and contend with the likes of the Blazers, Hornets, and Lakers in the not too distant future.

In order to have this 'best chance to eventually compete and contend', the Warriors need to make a commitment to developing the youth, giving the lots of playing time, not signing aging vets that could stunt growth, and insuring that they get a high draft pick in 2009. The latter does not entail sandbagging and out-right 'tanking' games, they should naturally be bad (but highly entertaining) if they play the youngsters heavy minutes and make free agent signings that might not have an immediate impact on the win column, but down the road will pay off huge dividends. It will be a tough season, but like the Blazers, Cavaliers, Sonics, Celtics, and many others have found out, a terrible year can quickly turn in the brightest of futures if the Warriors end up striking it rich in the 2009 NBA Lottery.


Resign Andris Biedrins to a deal worth 6 yrs / $59.1 million.
Sign Josh Smith to a front-loaded max deal for 5 yrs / $74.8 million.
Sign Shaun Livingston part of the MLE to a deal worth 3 yrs / $6.5 million w/ 3rd Yr. Team Option.
Resign Monta Ellis to a deal worth 6 yrs / $66.7 million.
Resign Kelenna Azubuike to a deal worth 3 yrs / $9.9 million w/ 3rd Yr. Team Option.
Resign Austin Croshere to the veteran minimum.
Sign Anthony Randloph to rookie salary scale
Sign Richard Hendrix to rookie salary scale
Sign DeMarcus Nelson to the minimum.

Approximate Salaries:

Josh Smith - $14,500,000
Al Harrington - $9,226,250
Monta Ellis - $8,800,000
Andris Biedrins - $7,800,000
Stephen Jackson - $7,140,000
Adonal Foyle - $6,700,000
Kelenna Azubuike - $3,000,000
Brandan Wright - $2,497,320
Shaun Livingston - $2,000,000
Kosta Perovic - $1,944,000
Marco Belinelli - $1,446,720
Anthony Randolph - $1,424,400
Austin Croshere - $800,000
C.J. Watson - $711,517
Richard Hendrix - $500,000
DeMarcus Nelson - $442,114

Total salary - $68,732,321

2008-2009 Roster

PG: Monta Ellis / C.J. Watson / Shaun Livingston
SG: Kelenna Azubuike / Marco Belinelli / DeMarcus Nelson
SF: Stephen Jackson / Al Harrington / Anthony Randolph
PF: Josh Smith / Brandan Wright / Richard Hendrix
C: Andris Biedrins / Kosta Perovic / Austin Croshere

This team is young but will be extremely exciting to watch. Monta Ellis brings the lighting on the offensive end, while Josh Smith anchors the defense with his filthy rejections and ability to rebound from any of the three positions he will be playing.

  1. Resigning Andris Biedrins to eliminate his approximately $10 million cap hold should be the first order of business. A deal in the neighborhood of 6 yrs / $59.1m would be reasonable ($7.8m, $8.6m, $9.4m, $10.3m, $11.6m, $12.5m, $13.4m). Biedrins may want a shorter deal which would also work well for the Warriors for capspace reasons and flexibility.
  2. The most realistic candidate to target in free agency is Josh Smith. Although Andre Iguodala would probably be a better fit considering the current make-up of the roster, the 76ers are less likely to not match and allow him to go to the Warriors. Atlanta ownership is in disarray, the franchise is having financial issues, and they will look to keep as many players as they can without exceeding the luxury tax, so a sizable offer for Josh Smith will deter the Hawks from matching. Currently, the 76ers are set to offer around $12.5m (the maximum they are able to offer based on estimated salary cap increase) to start. If the Warriors offer $14.5m to start, they should be able to get Smith into a Warriors uniform. Add a signing bonus and Warriors blow any 76ers deal out of the water. Offer him 5 yrs / $74.8m front-loaded with dips in 2010 and 2011 to allow for increased cap space for those big free agent years ($14.5m, $15.7m, $14.5m, $14.5m, $15.7m).
  3. Signing Shaun Livingston does two things: it gives us a very skilled and talented 6'7" PG that could pay off huge dividends when he recovers from his devastating knee injury, AND the fact that he will not be able to contribute heavy minutes this year insures that Monta gets most of the run at PG to log experience and Livingston won't contribute to meaningless wins that jeopardize the Warriors' chances of landing a high draft pick in 2009. Sign him to 3 yrs / $6.5m with a 3rd year Team Option ($2m, $2.2m, $2.3m). This deal will allow the Warriors to shed his salary in the Summer of 2010 if it is apparent that Livingston cannot return anywhere near his previous level of play.
  4. Monta Ellis can now be signed with the major free agent signings out of the way. Lock him in for as long as you can - 6 yrs / $66.6m ($8.8m, $9.7m, $10.6m, $11.6m, $12.5m, $13.4m) Like Biedrins, he may prefer to sign a shorter deal so he could keep his options open. This would be ok for the Warriors capspace and flexibility as well.
  5. Kelenna Azubuike did a good job on the defensive end, as was best exemplified when he held Kobe Byant in check during crutch time of their win in LA last season. His size, versatility in scoring, and toughness make him a good SG to pair next to Ellis. Azubuike probably wants a longer deal but Warriors should offer him more money on a shorter contract so that they don't tie up salary in 2010. Give him 3 yrs / $9.3m with a 3rd year Team Option ($2.8m, $3.1m, $3.4m).
  6. Austin Croshere did an adequate job spreading the floor with his outside shooting when he was healthy. He played hard and crashed the boards, so he would be a decent guy to bring back. He knows the system and a familiar face in practice could add some stability to a lineup shaken by the loss of their leader and a few other rotation players. If there is additional money left before hitting the Luxury Tax, perhaps the Warriors can pursue a younger option instead, but for now, Croshere will do.
  7. Sign the rookies. Richard Hendrix may be able to contribute more this year, but Anthony Randolph looks to be a steal because of his skills, size, and athleticism. Hopefully, Hendrix will be the Milsap-type of big we desperately need and Randolph will blossom into an All-Star in the mold of Lamar Odom or Chris Bosh.
  8. If DeMarcus Nelson impresses in Summer League play, sign him for the year. He has a reputation for being a tough defender and isn't bad as a combo guard player willing and able to dish out assists.
The Warriors can't afford to lose the new expanded fan base they gained by not coming out of this offseason with a big time free agent like Josh Smith. This summer is the best chance to make a significant addition to the roster, because they will have less money to spend when Ellis and Biedrins' deals are on the books.

It will be a rough season, but fans will pay to see exciting basketball engineered by Don Nelson. Ellis is one of the most electrifying players in the game. They don't call him the 'One Man Fastbreak' for nothing. Josh Smith brings thunderous jams not seen since the departure of the beloved Jason Richardson. More importantly, he brings a future Defensive Player of the Year that could intimidate in the post and help Biedrins on the glass. The fans will continue to pay if the Warriors show them a future full of hope.

Salary Summary:

(click image to enlarge)

This assembled roster is not meant to make the playoffs. In fact it is meant to increase our chances of landing one of the top player in the 2009 draft. Top talents include:
  1. Ricky Rubio - a franchise PG that's a cross between Steve Nash and Manu Ginobili
  2. Demar DeRozan - a franchise SG that reminds many of Vince Carter
  3. James Hardin - a heady SG with advanced leadership and terrific all-around game - see Brandon Roy and Dwayne Wade
  4. Blake Griffin - franchise PF with tremendous skills and strength - Boozer with more athleticism
  5. Brandon Jennings - the second best PG if Rubio stays in the draft
  6. BJ Mullens - fluid moving 7-footer with an advanced post game - Chris Kaman
  7. Tyreke Evans - a great SG prospect that would fit perfectly next to Ellis
Landing any one of those guys will make Warriors a force to be reckoned with in a few years. Smith, Ellis, Biedrins, Wright, Randolph, Belinelli, and Livingston will continue to improve. On top of that, they have the flexibility to go after the top Free agents of 2009 and 2010 if they choose. Team options will allow them to sign another Max salary player to add to the already scary nucleus of the Golden State Warriors. The key to this offseason plan is patience and the willingness to target the right type of players. Although they might not seem to be ready to contribute wins immediately, they are the best players that will help build a true contender down the line.

Josh Smith's 27pts,9reb vs KG&Celtics Game 3 Playoffs 2008
From: 1EDmanLV

Josh Smith
From: sari187

Shaun Livingston Mix
From: OkkafelloLoutus

Ricky Rubio Mix
From: Marsupirami

Brandon Jennings Mix by Runway
From: deknud