Friday, January 13, 2012
Saltzman Says... Golden State Warriors State of the Franchise 2012
We are 10 games into a 66 game, condensed schedule, lockout shortened season. The Warriors, 3-7, like play-by-play man Bob Fitzgerald predicted on his KNBR radio show, are off to a bumpy, injury prone, dramatic start.
The Good - The Warriors have beaten two teams, Miami and Chicago that have combined for 18 wins already this year, and also beat the New York Knicks.
The Bad - The Warriors played 7 of their 1st 10 at home and have a losing record (3-4) at home.
The Ugly - It will get worse before it gets better. Stephen Curry has missed most of the season so far with sprained ankles that have come 3 separate times this season. Also, Kwame Brown is done for the season with a torn chest muscle.
As far as the franchise goes, the team seems to have a good nucleus in place in the front office and with their staff. Joe Lacob, the principle owner of the franchise, hired Jerry West to serve of his executive board, hired Rick Welts as his president, Bob Myers as his asst. GM, and hired Mark Jackson as his head coach. While West's reputation is legendary and Welts is as well respected around the league as anybody, Myers and Jackson are brand new to their job descriptions. Myers is a former player agent and Jackson is a former player and analyst. That being said, Myers is one of the most respected player agents in the game, and who better to deal with other agents, than a former one. Jackson, while never having coached before, certainly knows how to lead, whether as a starting point guard in the NBA for 17 seasons or at his church as the pastor. It can certainly be said that the health of the organization at the top is good news for fans.
As far as the team goes, they are a long way from respectability. Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee and Andris Biedrins is the team's starting lineup if everyone is healthy, and that if has been a big one the last year and 10 games. Ekpe Udoh is the only other returner from last season. The team found a lot of 1 year replacements to fill out the roster this season. Kwame Brown, who was brought in to fill the void of a true backup center, is out for the year with a torn chest muscle. The combination of Brown and Biedrins certainly helped the team's interior defense. Second year man Udoh has had to log critical minutes at center this season, and he was certainly over matched against the best center in the game last night in Dwight Howard. Lee's primary backup is Dominic McGuire. Wright's primary backup is Brandon Rush who has a qualifying offer for next season. Rookie Klay Thompson is the primary backup to Ellis and veteran Nate Robinson was brought in to backup Stephen Curry. Second year man Ish Smith and rookie Charles Jenkins can both play point guard as well, and rookie Jeremy Tyler is another big body that is very raw.
The team should have about $14 million to spend next season and about $19 million to spend in 2013/14. That kind of money should give the team some flexibility heading into the off-seasons. None of the new players this year will cost the team much more than they are making this year. Brown, McGuire, Rush, Robinson and Smith could all be brought back to small, reasonable contracts. That kind of versatility hasn't been the case in several years for the Warriors.
Also, with each passing year, Ellis, Biedrins and Lee's contracts become more trade friendly. The turnover between this year and next year could finally see some changes to the starting lineup. As fans, people will be hoping for a trade deadline miracle along the likes of Baron Davis a few years ago. We'll see if the new ownership has something up their sleeve.