Sunday, June 26, 2022

The proposed trade turns Warriors Youngsters into a defensive anchor, Rising Wing

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The Golden State Warriors are one win away from the NBA Finals as of this writing, which might not sound strange given their history and largely dominant performance against the Mavs in the West Finals, but make no mistake — they’ve defied some odds , than they made it this point.

In recent years the team has suffered several devastating injuries including Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and former No. 2 pick James Wiseman. Before that, they sat idly by as Kevin Durant, who led the club to back-to-back titles in 2017 and 18, packed his bags for Brooklyn.

And yet here they are — in a year that began with an incredible amount of uncertainty — as clear title favorites with just a few weeks of postseason ball left.

Whether they finish the job or not, GM Bob Myers has some things to do this offseason. First of all he has to solve a mystery between Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole. Golden State is unlikely to be able to hold the former if it extends the latter. Second, the pivot needs to be considered as the team isn’t big enough and Kevon Looney will be a free agent this summer.

Here’s a trade with the potential to kill both birds with one stone.

In an effort to find the dubs as a legitimate seven-footer to anchor the team’s defense while also finding a high-profile winger to take Wiggins’ place – whose departure would make it much easier to get the mega-bucks to Poole distribute – are we striking the following deal with the Spurs:

Letting Wiggins run would feel like a punch in the gut after the playoff run he was on, especially here in the Conference Finals. However, he’s set to make $33.6 million next season and will no doubt be looking for something of the same magnitude or better in his next deal.

Vassell, meanwhile, is still on his rookie deal and is coming off a season in which he averaged 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steals while averaging 36.1% from distance lap. He’s not currently at Wiggins level, but he certainly could be someday in the not too distant future.

At least he’s significantly closer to that level — on both sides of the ball — than Moody, who wasn’t in the playoff rotation.

As for Poeltl, the experienced big man is a clear upgrade over Looney. Last season he averaged 13.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per contest. He also finished the campaign as the NBA leader in contested strokes per game with 14.2. And opponents’ field goal percentages dropped 8.3% on attempts within two yards of the basket when he was the closest defender.

The Warriors would likely prefer to keep and develop Wiseman, who some still believe is a star of the future. However, 39 injury-related games in two years and a potentially long development curve do not suit the club’s win-now mindset.

Poeltl, 26, and Vassell, 21, are both young enough to be part of the next wave of Warriors alongside Poole and Jonathan Kuminga.

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If the Spurs were a little closer to making big playoff noise, Poeltl could be an ideal piece of their puzzle. As it stands, they’re probably a few years away from challenging the status quo. What’s more, Poeltl will be a free agent after the 2022-23 season anyway, and there likely won’t be a shortage of teams looking to bring him in from the Southwest.

Instead of losing the pivot to the odd contender for nothing, they could trade it for the Dubs’ blue chipper and go all-in on a youth movement with that trade.

The Moody/Vassell switch serves a similar purpose. The latter is clearly further along in his development, but his cap may not be as high as the Spurs had hoped when they made him their highest draft pick since Tim Duncan. Moody, on the other hand, is only 19 and Steve Kerr raves about his work ethic and maturity.

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The Moody/Vassell switch serves a similar purpose. The latter is clearly further along in his development, but his cap may not be as high as the Spurs had hoped when they made him their highest draft pick since Tim Duncan. Moody, on the other hand, is only 19 and Steve Kerr raves about his work ethic and maturity.

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