HANG TIME WEST – It was the first two rounds of the playoffs all over again, with the Warriors a blur of action, unpredictability and unspoken statements about the future, only this time with enough crowd noise to blow the lid off more than Oracle Arena. Try the entire Western Conference.
Golden State was going hard after Dwight Howard, weighing trade options, digging for cap space in a final push Friday before his planned decision, planned being the operative word with any Howard expedition. And then: Andre Iguodala.
Brilliant. Better than coming away with Howard, the glitzy result but one that would have reduced the Stephen Curry impact and threatened team chemistry while potentially costing additional players in a sign-and-trade.
Trading Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and first-round picks in 2014 and 2017 to the Jazz for Kevin Murphy to clear the cap room to sign Iguodala could become the no-look pass of the 2013-14 season.
The Warriors are coming off a trip to the second round despite injury and inexperience and just added a versatile veteran who makes them better on both sides of the ball. Without costing them anyone from the rotation. And saving about $11 million in salary next season.
The loss statement is misleading – they also had to renounce Jarrett Jack, a major contributor off the bench, and Rush would have had a prominent role if not for tearing two ligaments in the left knee in his second and last game. But still. The Warriors were considering high-risk moves of dealing Andrew Bogut and Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes, among others, if that’s what it took to land the finicky Howard in a sign-and-trade and instead got a lot better while barely touching the core of a roster that pushed for the Western Conference final without coming close to its potential.
They got better.
The Nuggets, one of the teams that finished ahead of Golden State, got worse by losing Iguodala without compensation.
The Jazz, one of the teams that finished close behind, won’t get better off this deal for at least one season and maybe two.
It probably means a move to the bench for Barnes, impressive showing by a rookie in the playoffs or not, but he should be as visible on the wing as shooting guard Thompson and Iguodala as the successor at small forward. With Iguodala’s versatility, especially as a standout defender, the three could play together.
The Warriors need to find a reserve point guard and a backup center with Festus Ezeli expected to be out until approximately midseason after knee surgery, but David Lee, Curry, Bogut, Iguodala, Thompson and Barnes is a very good first six. Getting Iguodala, while also hitting the Nuggets hard, is another step forward.