As the NBA trade deadline approaches, there’s a big question that you need to answer.
Should the Warriors fear the Denver Nuggets or Memphis Grizzlies in a seven-game playoff series?
I know; we just answered that question last season.
So what about the Los Angeles Clippers or Sacramento Kings?
Those are the only four Western Conference teams ranked ahead of the Warriors in the latest ESPN power rankings or Wednesday morning’s NBA standings.
And since I know how the Warriors will answer that question (no, no, no and absolutely not) I ask you.
Though I can’t see why you would disagree with the Dubs.
The Warriors have been underwhelming and inconsistent all season — my goodness, have they been frustrating to watch — but in a Western Conference that lacks a great team, the Dubs are heading toward the trade deadline in a solid position.
It might not seem like it, but it’s true: This Warriors team has everything it needs to compete for another title. No guarantees, but their eight-man rotation is more than good enough. Heaven knows they don’t lack experience.
These next few days are merely an opportunity to augment their chances, to bolster their lineup.
If the Warriors want to stand pat at the trade deadline, that’s an acceptable play.
If they want to add a rental player on an expiring contract to help their title chances this year, that’s a good play, too.
The Warriors might be a team surrounded by questions — what, with their two timelines and all — but they enter the fray without any sense of desperation.
That’s a valuable card to hold in trade negotiations.
The Warriors don’t have to do anything before Feb. 9 at noon PT. That separates them from their Western Conference peers.
The Nuggets, Clippers, and Grizzlies better do something before the deadline — lest each waste a golden opportunity to win the franchise’s first title.
The Kings should probably do something. Not because they’re going to win a title, but because they can’t lose their playoff standing now. It’d be too heartbreaking to the long-suffering fans of the Capital City.
Then there’s a bunch of teams below Golden State in the standings. Being worse than a Warriors team that’s barely tried this season? You clearly need more.
Meanwhile, the Warriors — a team that seems consistently torn between the past and future — have found themselves firmly in the moment ahead of the deadline.
Ultimately, that lack of desperation will likely bring about a quiet trade deadline for the Dubs. Desperation is the driving factor of trades when the clock is ticking. Teams feeling pressure give up that additional first-round pick or toss in that young prospect they want to keep. They overpay, hoping that the short-term gains of any move will seriously outweigh the long-term costs.
Some good players are being shopped for comically high prices right now.
Alex Caruso, Jakob Poeltl, or my favorite name on the trade block, Utah backup center Jarred Vanderbilt, would all make great Warriors.
But are the Dubs going to part ways with a first-round pick — or, in the case of the first two options, multiple — to land those bench upgrades?
Such moves could be easily justified.
The likelihood is that they won’t be. Those late first-round picks are cheap labor for a team looking to cut costs on the ends of the roster and avoid paying half a billion dollars in payroll next season.
The challenge of the Warriors’ trade deadline is best summed up by this fact:
The Dubs’ toughest player to trade — James Wiseman — is also the team’s most likely player to be traded.
They’re selling low on Wiseman, but hoping another team buys into Wiseman’s already expensive contract and allegedly high upside (that, or the draft picks the Warriors will have to be package with him).
It will take a true Goldilocks situation for the Warriors to make such a move. If you know a team that could be a partner in a trade, there’s a basketball operations department in San Francisco that would love to hear that feedback.
Since I don’t (and it sounds like the Warriors’ front office doesn’t, either) as of 12:01 p.m. next Thursday, I expect this team to look the same.
And that’ll be just fine.