Warriors have draft opportunity to make another splash

This is my NBA Draft preview for the Warriors.

The Warriors should make a trade on draft night Thursday. Call it a blockbuster trade.

And they might, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. “I’m hearing the Warriors are exploring the possibility of trading UP. Target Unknown.” Howard-Cooper tweeted Wednesday. Then he followed up with the following tweet: “I would have thought the GSWs would try to trade out of the first to save money or use a 1st-rounder to get someone to take David Lee.”

I don’t think the Warriors will trade Lee on draft night. That’s not what I have in mind.

The Warriors have to trade Lee eventually — he would cost them more than $49 million in salary, luxury taxes and penalties if he still were on the team next season. But this report suggests the Warriors won’t trade him on draft night. It’s highly unlikely another team would trade the Warriors a high draft pick for the expensive Lee.

Maybe the Warriors will trade Lee later this offseason, once some team loses out during free agency and desperately needs a starting power forward. Waiting to trade Lee would make sense for the Warriors.

Let’s forget Lee for now. If the Warriors succeed in trading up Thursday night, whom will they trade?

They could trade center Marreese Speights and the No. 30 pick to move up a few spots to the late 20s.

But if the Warriors want to trade into the top-10 for a potential franchise player, someone who can be a core member of the team for the next seven or eight years along with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, there’s only one player the Warriors can trade.

Harrison Barnes.

He’s the most valuable asset on the team other than the three players I just mentioned. Barnes is 23, healthy, a fantastic athlete who plays small forward and power forward, a starter for a championship team and an excellent 3-point shooter. And he’s still improving.

But how important is he really to the Warriors? What does he give them that Green and Andre Iguodala don’t? Those two are far better than Barnes at defense and passing.

Shooting is the only thing at which Barnes is better, but Barnes is a passive offensive player. He almost never dominates even though he almost always draws the easiest matchup on offense. The other team’s two best wing defenders typically guard Curry and Thompson.

Barnes averaged only 10.1 points per game last season. He can’t get to the rim off the dribble, nor can he drive and create easy shots for his teammates. Maybe one day he’ll learn to do those things. Right now he’s a catch-and-shoot offensive player.

That’s not what the Warriors hoped they were getting when they drafted Barnes with the seventh pick in 2012. The seventh pick is for franchise players, not passive spot-up shooters. Barnes was supposed to be the Warriors’ third scorer, the guy who could take over a game offensively if Curry and Thompson were off that night.

The Warriors still covet that third scorer, according to reports. And they can get a good one if they trade Barnes. Trading him probably would land the Warriors a top-10 draft pick, considering Barnes was a top-10 pick just three years ago and his stock is rising.

If they trade Barnes for a pick near No. 10, one player they could draft is 18-year-old shooting guard Devin Booker. He made 41.1 percent of his 3-point shots last season as a freshman at the University of Kentucky, he’s 6’6” and draft experts compare him to Thompson.

What team wouldn’t want two Klay Thompsons?

If the Warriors exchange Barnes for Booker, Iguodala can replace Barnes in the starting lineup and Booker can be the sixth-man, the guard who carries the scoring load for the second-team.

The Warriors didn’t really have a guard like that last season. They had Leandro Barbosa, who was decent off the bench, but probably won’t return next season. He’s a free agent. Booker would be an upgrade.

What if some team drafts Booker early and the Warriors can’t get him? They still can get another good shooter around the 10th pick — Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky.

Kaminsky made 41.6 percent of his 3-point shots last season, and he’s 7-foot-1. He could be Andrew Bogut’s backup, the scoring center who complements the defensive center. In other words, what Marreese Speights was last season. Kaminsky would be better than Speights.

Or Kaminsky could start at power forward, Green could start at small forward and Iguodala could come off the bench. That would work, too.

Those are wonderful options. Trading Barnes would be a wonderful move.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

This article has 26 Comments

  1. Why would anyone trade for Barns after reading your evaluation of his play? First he’s a catch and shoot disappointment, then he’s an up and coming tenth selection from three years ago. Why would another team want the first Barns, or why would the Warriors want to let the second Barnes go?

    1. If the Warriors moved into the top 10 it would allow them to aquire another Iguodala or Green type player who could guard at various positions, (i.e., guard or power forward) and score on offense also.

  2. Barns has shown much improvement this past season and in fact played a key and in some games major role in the Warriors playoff run.
    At only 23 and ascending, I don’t move him for an unknown commodity.

    Iguodala is not getting younger and his best position (chemistry wise) is coming off the bench. Why fix this successful starting line-up if it ain’t broke?
    Mark Jackson hampered Barns’ potential last year by starting Iguodala and it did not make for a deep playoff run. Kerr started Barns and the rest is history!

    I totally agree with holding on to D.Lee until the right team comes knocking. By then I’d like to see if Festus Ezeli continues his improvement. If Festus can emerge as a formidable Center, perhaps we consider moving Bogut and Lee for a nice veteran player and throw in a future draft pick as well.

    Moving H.Barns at this stage of his ascending career doesn’t settle well for me.

    1. Agreed- but it is both Klay n Barnes who need to penetrate more to get the ball to the rim- something they watched routinely by Barbosa’s relentless attacking…. A slashing offense is more effective than the penetrate n kick out, my $.02, as it draws a lot of trips to the line.

      I am not opposed to making a move to improve the team, a la Ellis, but let’s not do it at the expense of a promising player unless it is prudent to do so…..:

  3. I wouldn’t trade Barnes.
    The draft isn’t a crapshoot, but it’s not a sure thing either.
    Further, Barnes keeps getting better, and he complements his teammates well.
    His field goal percentage this season was .482—almost as good as Curry’s .487 and better than Thompson’s .463.
    The Warriors need to stay put and hope they can do as well as they did when they drafted Draymond Green in the second round with the 35th overall pick.
    I’d also keep David Lee. He’s a scorer, a rebounder, and a passer. Kerr needs to learn how to use him properly—maybe as a 6′ 9″ center when the Warriors go small.

    1. Hammer,
      There’s a reason why Karl wants Boogie out of Sactown.
      Can Cousins play ball? Yes.
      Can he stay happy and be a team player? H -to – the -ll no!

      His sulking on court demeanor is a total team chemistry killer.
      Let LA and Kobe deal with him.
      I respectfully pass.

      1. Our last so-called blockbuster deal with Sac didn’t fair well. Remember the Mitch Richmond for Billy Owens trade?
        That left an ugly mark on the Warriors landscape for a very long time.

        1. Hammer,
          Kerr might be able to get more out of Cousins – but why would he want a malcontent that always seems to be on the brink of an on-court mental breakdown?

          I agree with trading Bogut and waiting for someone to offer us something worthwhile for Lee.

          I don’t like the ideal of trading Barns for a player that is a couple of years younger and hope that he becomes the player that Barns is becoming at the tender age of 23.
          Doesn’t make sense to me given the fact that Barns is ascending and could become a great player for us.

          This is not a Monte Ellis type trade that many were upset about. Ellis was an exciting and well liked player as a Warrior, but he would have squelched Curry’ and eventually Klay’ growth.
          Barns is not limiting any other player on the Warriors team from reaching their potential. In fact, it was Mark Jackson who was limiting Barns from reaching his potential by starting Iguodala last season.

          My vote (as if it matters, lol) is that we keep H.Barns.

          1. Barnes started, but his minutes played was almost matched by Iguodala’s.

            I like Barnes too, but would gladly trade him in exchange for one of the top 15 players in the game right now.

            1. The player that would pique my interest for Barns would be Tristan Thompson of the Cavs. But I believe the Cavs would rather deal Love before letting TT go.

      2. As a Kings fan, that made me chuckle. Karl wants him out because Karl is a diva. What happened with Melo in Denver ? Or Ray Allen & the Bucks? Ray freakin Allen !!!! Cousins just wants to win & the organization is not helping AT ALL! (Jimmer? Stauskas? Are you serious?) ANY star would want out of Sac not just Boogie. The front office is a mess right now.

  4. You don’t trade away Barnes. A player with his athletic ability plus his great work ethic and young age makes him part of the core for a long time. He’s a great fit with Curry and Thompson in the starting lineup and he fits Kerr’s switch all d.

  5. Why trade up that far and give up so much for Booker when they can stand pat and take Rashad Vaughn at #30.
    It’s called VALUE.

  6. It looks like Jack Hammer was right; we’ll have to bring back Alex Smith to generate any football talk.

    1. Don’t know if Alex has been back for an annual golf tournament that he plays in, but the guy is a total class act.
      I’d prefer to remember him on that level.

  7. While I suppose the issue of Barnes for a pick in this year’s draft is moot now, here’s my favorite recent piece on Harrision Barnes:

    He frustrates me sometimes, as he shows what he’s capable of just often enough to remind us we don’t get it every night. But there’s no denying that he improved greatly this year. He’s still young, and still loaded with potential. I’m happy to give him at least another year before calling him trade bait.

  8. the reports I’ve seen / heard indicate the W’s want to add a shooter to the second unit.

    Barnes is 23, is improving, is a great guy and teammate, and has proven he belongs in the NBA. It would’ve made no sense to trade him for an unknown quantity, as the players suggested in the article most certainly are.

    Also, I’m not so sure the W’s could’ve acquired a top ten pick for Barnes, Lee and pick 30.

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