OAKLAND — As the trade deadline nears, Golden State’s rivals are sputtering and scrambling for help. Meanwhile, the Warriors machine is running smoothly.
That’s by design. Since Steve Kerr took over as head coach, the Dubs have flaunted their wealth by making only subtle midseason rearrangements to the last spot on their roster.
Last year, they waived Anderson Varejao before shuffling through Briante Weber, Jose Calderon and Matt Barnes. In the two seasons prior, they swapped Varejao for Jason Thompson and re-added James Michael McAdoo.
These moves don’t exactly move the needle in the NBA landscape. Yet, that’s where so many teams find themselves looking to improve.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Eastern Conference champions the last three years, will be active in both the trade and buyout market. The Boston Celtics got better by adding Greg Monroe to provide scoring to second-unit that needs it. The Los Angeles Clippers have waved the white flag while the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are rumored to be eying moves.
Golden State might make a cosmetic change to the bottom half of its bench. Maybe.
General manager Bob Myers will be talking to other teams, but mostly because it could be useful during the timeframe when the Warriors actually make significant moves: the offseason.
“Dialogue that occurs at this trade deadline might come into effect two summers from now. You don’t know,” he said Thursday at the Warriors’ facility.
In terms of roster improvement, the Warriors don’t view this to be a crucial point in the season.
“I talk to Bob pretty much every day on the phone,” Kerr said. “We talk about anything — a good restaurant in San Francisco, a good show on Netflix, a trade, salary cap, the state of the union address, anything — we have a great friendship and a great collaboration.”
Kerr insists he doesn’t have much sway over the composition of the roster, despite having experience as the former general manager of the Phoenix Suns.
“I think the beauty of our arrangement coming in was they didn’t want to give me any personnel power, and I didn’t want any,” he said. “… I understood how difficult that job is. I understood how difficult the coaching job is. They’re really separate jobs that require one person’s full attention.”
Myers, in his typical deferential style, pointed to how important everyone around him is.
“I’ve never thought you force anything on your coach,” he said. “… Again, why would I think that I know more than Steve Kerr?”
Ultimately, this point of the season — like so many others — is just another stop on the Warriors’ celebration tour. They’ve put together a nearly unbeatable team that has the best record in the league despite relatively inconsistent focus. Other teams feel compelled to make moves because of them. And the reality of the Warriors’ limited roster and cap space precludes Myers from real action.
That reality would be devastating for at least a dozen teams in the league. But for the Warriors, it’s just another February.
Who deserves the credit? It’s an obvious answer for both Myers and Kerr.
“Ownership, the leaders in the organization: That allows you to sustain success but why we’re successful is really our players,” Myers said. “They should get all the credit for what we’ve done.”
The Warriors’ heavy lifting was done over the last half-decade; they don’t seek abrupt, landscape-altering transactions during the regular season because they don’t need to.
Maybe that’s why Thursday at the team’s HQ was so abuzz. ESPN had just set the NBA world on fire by reporting LeBron James would consider a meeting with Golden State if it cleared enough cap space. And the notion that the Dubs would once again absorb a generational talent gave people something to talk about.
It was something to latch onto. Without it, it would’ve just been another boring trade deadline for the Warriors.