Do you remember last summer, when the Warriors backed away from a deal that involved Suns all-star power forward Amar’e Stoudemire? The Suns and Warriors had a deal on the table during last summer’s draft that would have sent Stephen Curry, Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli to the Suns for Stoudemire. The Warriors backed out of the deal because they didn’t want to part with Curry. At the time, I thought the Warriors were foolish to walk away from this deal. I couldn’t believe Curry was the hold-up to acquiring one of the NBA’s elite players. Granted, I underestimated Curry at the time. I thought he was a tweener, I didn’t think he would be a good NBA point guard and I thought he and Ellis were basically the same player. I couldn’t believe the Warriors were squandering an opportunity like this.
Now, almost a year has passed since the Warriors rejected the Stoudemire trade. The three pieces besides Curry have all declined in value; Biedrins had a horrible season before shutting it down a couple months ago, Wright hasn’t played a game all year, and Belinelli isn’t even on the roster. But Curry is so much better than I expected him to be that my initial reaction is the Warriors were pretty smart to turn down this trade. Curry looks like the next great point guard in the league, while Stoudemire — still one of the NBA’s best players — has enough question marks (history of injuries, questionable defense and attitude) that it looks like this would have been a trade the Warriors and their fans regretted as they watched Curry develop and eventually take over for Steve Nash in Phoenix just as Stoudemire was reaching the end of his career. But … on second glance, you still have to wonder how the Warriors would have turned out with Stoudemire on the roster. Even with as good as Curry is, did the Warriors really make the right decision? Let’s look at two scenarios and decide.
FIRST SCENARIO: THE NO-TRADE SCENARIO
This is basically your Warriors as they are now. We should consider the upcoming draft pick a byproduct of not making this trade. If the Warriors had traded for Stoudemire, I believe that version of the Warriors would have been better than the current team. They would have been in the playoff hunt, meaning the 2010 draft pick, instead of being one of the top selections, would have been a pick in the teens. Much less value there. So, in this scenario, let’s speculate that the Warriors will end up with the third pick in the draft (their present standing). We’ll select Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and look at the roster with that addition:
PG: Stephen Curry, C.J. Watson
SG: Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams, Anthony Morrow
SF: Kelenna Azubuike, Corey Maggette, Vladimir Radmanovic, Devean George
PF: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright, Anthony Tolliver
C: Andris Biedrins, Ronny Turiaf, Chris Hunter
I’m not going to predict how well that roster will perform next season (and this is not taking into consideration any potential trades or free agent signings). I’ll leave that to you. Take a look at that roster. How much do you like it? Do you think that roster will win enough next season to contend for the playoffs? To contend for a championship, if not next season, then in the next couple seasons?
Had a good look? Good. We’ll move on to scenario No. 2.
THE SECOND SCENARIO: THE ACQUIRE-STOUDEMIRE SCENARIO
This is a speculative look at the roster if the Warriors had made the deal for Stoudemire last summer. Goodbye Curry, Biedrins, Wright and Belinelli. Hello Stoudemire. This scenario is dependent on the assumption that the Warriors and Stoudemire would have agreed to a contract extension. Without an extension, this trade would never happen.
I am also bringing back Stephen Jackson in this scenario. Jackson was upset and wanted a trade because he felt Warriors management lied to him. They told him they were going to acquire an All-Star big man in the offseason; when they backed away from the Stoudemire deal, Jackson backed away from the Warriors. I am also speculating that the Jackson in this scenario is the good Jackson, the player who is motivated and playing hard because he is content with his playing environment. In that scenario, Jackson is a borderline All-Star.
This is a stretch, but considering the number of players lost in this deal, I’m also going to keep Jamal Crawford on this roster. I might be wrong about this, because Don Nelson did not like Crawford and that’s why he was traded. But losing Biedrins, Curry, Wright and Belinelli in this trade might have made the team less willing to trade away a talented player like Crawford.
Another consideration is that this team would have won more games with Stoudemire, Jackson, Ellis and Co. and thus would have had a draft pick in the teens. Let’s give this team the 19th pick in the draft, select West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler and construct the roster from there:
PG: Monta Ellis, C.J. Watson
SG: Jamal Crawford, Anthony Morrow
SF: Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike, Da’Sean Butler
PF: Amar’e Stoudemire, Corey Maggette, Anthony Randolph
C: Ronny Turiaf, Mikki Moore
Again, take a look at this roster. Decide for yourself how much you like this roster. Is this roster a playoff contender? A championship contender? Now go back and look at the roster in Scenario One. Which roster do you like better?
For me, as much as I love Curry, I like the roster in Scenario Two better. I think this roster would have been a playoff team this season with a three- or four-year window to contend for a championship. I believe the Warriors would have made a deal to shore up the center position, bringing in a Marcus Camby or Brendan Haywood. This would have been a really fun team to watch.
But, what do you think? Do you take Curry and the rest of the current roster? Or do you take Stoudemire, say goodbye to Curry, and welcome back Jackson? Make your call in the comments field below.