Warriors owner Joe Lacob has made it clear: The organization’s goal for this season was a top four seed in the West and home court in the first round of the playoffs. At 31-21, the Warriors are the six seed currently but are closer to Memphis in the nine seed out of the playoffs (2.5 games) than they are to the four seed Clippers (4 games).
Part of the reason the Warriors have not reached their goal is their bench. When the Warriors’ starting five are healthy and on the court (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut) they have an offensive rating of 112.8 and outscore teams by 16.5 points per 100 possessions — that’s the highest point differential of any lineup that has played at least 200 minutes in the league. It’s better than the Pacers’ starting five.
But get into Golden State’s bench and things drop off. Fast sometimes.
According to a person with knowledge of the Warriors’ situation, Golden State is on the lookout for bench help and is hoping to use its trade exceptions as a way to facilitate such a deal that would likely need to involve three teams…
The Warriors have two sizable trade exceptions ($9 million and $4 million) that don’t expire until next summer, as well as two smaller exceptions (approximately $780,000) that expire on Feb. 17….
As for the possibility of a bigger deal being done before the deadline, rival executives told that anyone outside of point guard Stephen Curry and center Andrew Bogut is, to varying degrees, up for discussion. That includes second-year small forward Harrison Barnes, the Warriors reserve who is known to have sparked serious interest from a long list of suitors but who is unlikely to be traded unless it was part of a package for a big-name player. Even with Barnes’ struggles (he shot 33.7% from the field in January while averaging 6.9 points per game), he still has no shortage of fans within the organization.
A trade exception means Golden State can take on salary without sending salary back — if you’re a team looking to shed salary Golden State is your call. But the Warriors are $2.5 million under the tax line and not looking to go over it, so if they make a big move it would be a trade. And yes, Thompson and Barnes are available because both are going to have to get paid in a couple years and Golden State is already committed with a lot of cash to Curry, Lee and Bogut.
Remember last season’s playoff run for Golden State, Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry played well off the Warriors’ bench. The Warriors miss what those two bring and a deal to get Jordan Crawford helps but is not the answer.
It’s going to be hard to replace that level of production, but in a league of sellers the Warriors are looking to be buyers at the deadline. Keep an eye on them.