COMMENTARY | The Golden State Warriors have been quite an active team this offseason. From making trades to signing new players to replacing those leaving, Golden State has made this an eventful and exciting time of the year for Warriors fans.
Here are the Warriors' top five most important offseason moves:
5. Sending Kent Bazemore to Las Vegas Summer League
Bazemore was a lock for the Summer League team and the presumed leader of the inexperienced bunch. A promising talent who needed more seasoning and skill development, his second stint in Las Vegas was a way to give him more playing time and gauge how much he's improved. Seeing that the Warriors claimed the inaugural Summer League title, he certainly rose to the occasion.
In the Warriors' perfect seven-game run during Summer League, the second-year player averaged 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.7 steals a game, gaudy numbers even though he played against a majority of players who will not be on NBA rosters this season. After showing his improved all-around skills and leadership abilities in Las Vegas, he is deserving of some minutes in a crowded backcourt rotation.
4. Adding high-character veterans to the bench
The Warriors lost two big contributors to last season's success in Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings, respectively. Despite losing them, the team's front office went to work by finding some affordable veteran presences to complete the team's bench.
The first to sign was Marreese Speights, a 6-foot-10-inch, 245-pound big man who can run the court, score with a reliable mid-range shot, and provide some toughness to the bench. Soon after, the Warriors snatched backup point guard Toney Douglas, known primarily as a good defender and reliable shooter from downtown, from the Kings. Lastly, they signed Jermaine O'Neal, now the elder statesman of the team at 34 years old as Andrew Bogut's primary backup and first center off the bench to start the season in place of the injured Festus Ezeli.
The Warriors had holes to fill on the bench and they filled them with mature and experienced players, fitting in with the team's system and culture.
3. Trading away Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson for cap space
Biedrins and Jefferson were clearly the biggest non-factors on the roster. Eating up over $20 million of cap room, their biggest value was not their contributions on the court but their expiring contracts.
By working out a trade involving the Utah Jazz to unload them, the Warriors acquired some flexibility in the form of trade exceptions. In the past, the Warriors have developed the trend of wasting valuable trade pieces such as expiring contracts, trade exceptions and other salary cap-related assets. From throwing away the asset created by trading away Jason Richardson to foolishly using the amnesty provision on Charlie Bell, it was nice to see the team actually make use of these bargaining chips.
By making this move, the Warriors were able to acquire some much-needed salary-cap flexibility to acquire the right big-name player.
2. Not acquiring free agent Dwight Howard
Howard is not the big-name player best suited for what the Warriors needed to accomplish.
While the Warriors' brass has had their eyes on the star since his days on the market following his mutiny from the Orlando Magic, they were much better off without the troublemaker and chemistry-killer. Given how well the team performed last season as a hungry, youthful, and cohesive unit, bringing him in could have been the wrong decision for the team's present and future.
Ultimately, the final decision was in Howard's hands. In this case, one of the Warriors' best decisions was an unsuccessful move. Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make.
1. Facilitating a sign-and-trade for Andre Iguodala
In some ways, Iguodala is the antithesis of Howard. While he is not the renowned center Howard could have become for the Warriors, Iguodala is the low-maintenance star who doesn't need looks on offense to be effective and fits in with the team-oriented and defensive-minded culture.
At first perceived to be a straight-up signing of the former All-Star, the Warriors had a few days before the moratorium period passed to transform this proposed transaction into a sign-and-trade deal. While it eventually cost them Biedrins, Jefferson, Brandon Rush, two first-round picks, and three second-round picks, this change facilitated the completion of the Warriors' bench.
While losing Jack and Landry was difficult, the Warriors were instead able to bring in solid players on the bench. With their mid-level exception, rookie exception, and traded player exceptions available, they filled their bench with Speights, Douglas and O'Neal.
All of this would not have been possible with this slight, but important trade alteration.
Austin Chang is a San Francisco Bay Area-based sports writer covering the Golden State Warriors for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He is the Associate Editor of Sports Out West and an intern for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.
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