What do the Warriors competitors look like after recent tune-ups?
The Golden State Warriors had a quiet trade deadline. Despite fielding calls on Andrew Wiggins, speculation as to whether they’d dump Chris Paul’s salary, and calls from some fans to move on from Klay Thompson, the Dubs made only the most mild-mannered move. When all was said and done, the only thing that happened was to ship Cory Joseph (and a large chunk of cash) to the Indiana Pacers (who promptly waived Joseph), which opened up a roster spot for the Dubs, helped them save a few million dollars, and netted them a late second-round pick.
If you’re upset that Golden State didn’t make a splash, well ... look around. No one did! It was a remarkably tame deadline, and I’m not entirely sure that anyone the Warriors are fighting in the standings actually got notably better.
But with the Dubs looking up at nearly the entire conference as they battle to make the playoffs, it’s worth taking stock of where the West is. Here’s a look at the contending teams in the West, and the players they acquired ... and lost. I’m ignoring draft picks, cash, player rights, etc., and just focusing on how the roster for the rest of this season was impacted.
No. 1 seed Minnesota Timberwolves
Gained: Monte Morris
Lost: Troy Brown Jr., Shake Milton
If Morris can stay healthy, this is a solid move to give Minnesota some point guard depth behind Mike Conley Jr. Morris only recently returned from a lengthy injury, and has played in just six games this year. But he’s a solid point guard who shoots threes at a decent clip and turns the ball over at an astonishingly low rate — for his career, he’s averaged just 1.1 turnovers per 36 minutes. That’s a nice veteran presence for the Wolves, though it might not be a needle-mover.
No. 3 seed Oklahoma City Thunder
Gained: Gordon Hayward
Lost: Tre Mann, Davis Bertāns, Vasilije Micić
It’s easy to see this being a huge move for the young Thunder, who added a versatile veteran presence without having to give up much (or commit long-term, as Hayward is on an expiring contract). Hayward is a former All-Star who has appeared in 29 playoff games, so it’s not hard to paint a picture of him making a difference for a young, inexperienced, and supremely talented Thunder squad.
Still and all, Hayward has been trending in the wrong direction for a while now. He’s still a solid player, but it comes with some asterisks now.
No. 5 seed Phoenix Suns
Gained: Royce O’Neale, David Roddy
Lost: Chimezie Metu, Yuta Watanabe, Jordan Goodwin, Keita Bates-Diop
The Warriors know firsthand how dangerous O’Neale can be ... he tried to singlehandedly pull the Brooklyn Nets to victory over the Dubs on Monday. This is a good trade for Phoenix in a vacuum but, like most of the Suns trades, it makes them even more top-heavy. I like this move for Phoenix, though.
No. 8 seed Dallas Mavericks
Gained: P.J. Washington, Daniel Gafford
Lost: Grant Williams, Seth Curry, Richaun Holmes
The Mavs made a pair of trades and they get mixed grades from me. Swapping Holmes for Gafford is a big upgrade for Dallas (though it came with some long-term cost, as they had to part with a 2024 first-round pick ... admittedly OKC’s, so likely very low). But sending Williams and Curry to Charlotte for Washington is a move that raises some eyebrows for me (and one that also cost them a first-round pick).
This probably makes the Mavs better, as Washington is a quality player, while Williams wasn’t really working out in Dallas and Curry wasn’t getting any minutes. At the same time ... why wasn’t Williams working out in Dallas, and why wasn’t Curry getting any minutes?
If you’re a baseball fan, this move reminded me of the San Francisco Giants recent deal to trade Ross Striping and cash for a mediocre prospect. On the one hand, good job getting off of something that wasn’t working. On the other hand, you deserve blame for the fact that it wasn’t working, and now had to pay extra to undo your own mistake.
Williams is a good basketball player. Maybe he’s the reason things weren’t working, but that’s giving the Mavericks and Jason Kidd more benefit of the doubt than I’m usually inclined to do.
No. 10 seed Utah Jazz
Gained: Otto Porter Jr., Kira Lewis Jr.
Lost: Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji, Simone Fontecchio
The Jazz have been punching above their weight all year, and these moves acknowledged that. Currently the team standing directly in front of the Warriors in the race for the final play-in spot, the Jazz seemed content to turn an eye towards the future.
A trade with Toronto saw them lose Olynyk and Agbaji in exchange for Porter, Lewis, and a 2024 first-round pick. That makes them worse right now (Olynyk is good!), but better long term. So did a trade with Detroit in which the Jazz sent Fontecchio to the Pistons for Kevin Knox II (who was promptly waived), a second-round pick, and the draft rights to Gabriele Procida, an intriguing 21 year old taken early in the second round of the 2022 draft.
It always seemed overwhelmingly likely that Golden State would leapfrog Utah — talent takes over eventually, and the Dubs have the 13th-best garbage-time adjusted net rating in the league, compared to the Jazz’s 23rd-best rating — but now it got a little easier.
Other good Western Conference teams made moves, but none that impacted their rosters immediately. The Sacramento Kings acquired Robin Lopez and waived him immediately. The LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets made a deal that involved zero players in the NBA.
Mostly the teams are all moving forward with the players they have.