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Warriors NBA Trade Deadline: Trade Inflexibility

The Warriors are interested in making some moves, but as Adam Lauridsen, San Jose Mercury Warriors’ blogger, notes, the blunders of past management affect their ability to do something bigger in the present.

In tracing the effects of former GM Chris Mullins’ trade for New Jersey Net’s PG Marcus Williams after Baron Davis bolted for La-La-Land, the Warriors really can’t do much with their picks until they finally compensate New Jersey for that trade, which is a lottery-protected first round pick. And worse yet, the lottery protections year to year have a huge effect on what they can do now. Wait wha? Lauridsen breaks it down:

Under the original trade, the first pick that could go to the Nets was the Warriors’ 2011 first rounder, lottery protected. But then in September 2009, the team sent its 2011 second round pick to the Nets to bump the first potential year for the trade back a year to 2012 (with lower lottery restrictions). Because of the NBA’s rule requiring teams to have a first round pick in at least every other draft, the second trade freed the team up to swap its 2010 pick. Had the NJ pick come due in 2011, the 2010 pick could not have been traded. Of course, despite the "win now" objective motivating the second NJ deal, Larry Riley sat on his hands last trade deadline and ended up keeping the 2010 pick. So the flexibility purchased with the second round pick ended up being wasted, like so many assets collected during the Cohan era.

But it gets more complicated as Lauridsen shows that the lottery protections each year make it challenging for the Warriors to ever make their payment to the Nets. This could be all said it done if the Warriors finish, as they typically do, right outside the desirable top 5-6 picks into the grey area of the mid to late lottery. But the effect, as Lauridsen notes, this year is that they could have packed this year’s lottery pick with expirings to make a better deal.

Especially since Warriors are interested in packing expirings to teams who are also on the ‘win-now’ route, having a first round pick to give might entice these teams to make that jump. Giving up the 2011 pick (under the original conditions) to New Jersey seems like it would have been a great idea, too, given how badly this draft is supposedly shaking out.