February 09, 2011
If you're an NBA junkie, this is such a fantastic read. Not what you're about to read from me, but the initial post and discovery we'll get to down this particular page.
Back in 2007-08, rookie Nets point guard Marcus Williams actually did quite well in his initial season in East Rutherford. He didn't defend or shoot well, but he led a solid bench attack for New Jersey mainly because then-Nets coach Lawrence Frank seemed to run the same 1-5 screen and roll for Williams and Mikki Moore(notes). Moore could catch, and dunk, or hit the occasional fallaway baseline shot. And Williams could hurl that lefty one-arm pass from 23-feet away. It worked, even if the Nets weren't all that great, and Williams made the All-Rookie team, the second edition, as a result. No small feat.
In the offseason, New Jersey was quick to read the writing on the wall with this talented though limited player, and dumped him on the Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2008 for a conditional first-round pick. And because conditional conditions can be made quite complicated, things got weird from then on out.
For one, Williams was awful in Golden State. The Warriors dealt for him as a desperate attempt to fill in point-guard depth with Baron Davis(notes) heading to the Clippers a few weeks before, but he was a bit of a headcase, and was waived in March of 2009. NBA players with guaranteed contracts aren't waived all that often, if ever, but Marcus was so bad both on court and off that the Warriors went ahead with it.
Worse, the original first-round pick that Golden State sent to New Jersey had the Nets taking in a 2011 selection. Freaked out by this, the clueless former Warriors front office decided to re-negotiate a counter-deal that would send a second-round pick to the Nets if they backed off the initial 2011 lottery restrictions of the deal. New Jersey gladly accepted, and a few months ago, sent the original selection to the Lakers as part of the Sasha Vujacic(notes) deal.
Meanwhile, the Nets took in Golden State's 2012 pick as a reward for backing off, with only a restriction placed if it falls between first and seventh in that year's draft. The restrictions get slimmer after that. But that's not the worst of it.
This complex chain of contingencies leads to one very simple conclusion for the Warriors this trade deadline - all first rounders from 2011 to 2015 are off the table. The killer restriction for the Warriors is the back-to-back rule, prohibiting the trading of first rounders in consecutive years. The 2011 pick can't be traded because the 2012 pick could be shipped out to NJ. The 2013 pick can't be traded because if the Warriors get one of the top 7 picks in 2012, the 2013 pick will be owed to the Nets. And so on and so on, until you get to 2015. Although that pick isn't owed to the Nets, the 2014 pick might end up being traded, barring the Warriors from moving the pick one year after it. At some point the pick will get traded to the Nets (my guess would be 2012), freeing the team of the restrictions on the back-end years. But for now, the picks are all locked up.
And for a capped-out team desperate to try and move out of the lottery? This isn't great. These are going to be lower-level lottery picks as it is, not the best move for a team that needs a few more dynamic players (or one, real, franchise guy; sorry, Monta and Stephen) to compete amongst the West's elite. But in a trade, selections like those can push a trade over the top. And for a team, mindful of the fact that Chicago went from just the ninth-worst to the top of the lottery heap in 2008, this tends to stand out.
Adam nails it after that, pointing out that "being a Warriors fan is not easy." It will hopefully improve now that the Chris Cohan-led mess that ruined a nearly 20-year span of what could have been great basketball has left the arena, but that doesn't mean the ramifications will erase easily.