To say that the Golden State Warriors have had a good offseason is an extreme understatement. After a storm of trades, salary dumps and
free agent acquisitions, the 2013-2014 squad is being viewed as one of the top contenders in the Western Conference.
Following the end of the season, it was expected to be an ordinary offseason for the Dubs: make a couple small moves here and there, and try to keep the same core together for another run. However, it could be fair to say that the Warriors have had a more wild nine days than any team in the association.
It was widely thought that Golden State would try to resign Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, two key guys that brought a spark off the bench. But there was a possibility, growing stronger by the day, that Golden State could lose both to teams willing to overpay to play a bigger role on their squad. It turns out that was the case; Jack left for Cleveland and Landry went up north to Sacramento. Except Joe Lacob, Bob Myers, and the entire Warriors front office had some magic up their sleeves.
In a surprise, the Warriors squeezed themselves into the Dwight Howard sweepstakes at the last moment. They pulled off the unthinkable, finding a team to take the $20 million of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson, as well as the $5 million owed to swingman Brandon Rush.
While viewed as moves to create salary room for Howard, Golden State didn’t wait around for the indecisive big man, signing Andre Iguodala to a four-year contract worth $48 million. It is not often that a team that advances to the second round of the playoffs can keep their entire starting five and add an All-Star in the process, and that’s exactly what Golden State did.
Work was not complete though as Golden State had to fill out their bench and make up for the production of Jack and Landry. It started with the signing of big man Marreese Speights, who is expected to play a role similar to that of Landry. He is expected to be the primary backup to power forward David Lee, but can also play center when the Warriors decide to go small. Speights, only 25, averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds last season, which is great production for a non-starter.
Golden State still needed another big man to fill the void of second year center Festus Ezeli, who will miss much of the season due to injury. That’s what they got in signing former All Star Jermaine O Neal to a one year deal to play backup center to Andrew Bogut, who, as Warriors fans know, can get injured at any given moment. O’ Neal had a surprising bounce back season, averaging 8.3 points and 5.3 boards, stats that any GM will take for their backup center.
The Warriors also signed Toney Douglas to a one-year contract to compete for the backup point guard position to Stephen Curry. Douglass, who was a backup for Sacremento last season, is known for his defense and play in transition. He can also shoot the 3-ball pretty well, and was 90% from the FT line. He is expected to battle with Nemanja Nedovic, the Warriors first round pick from Serbia, for the backup position, but it is likely that both will remain on the roster. This puts the status of fan-favorite and ultimate team player Kent Bazemore in question.
One could make an argument for Golden State having one of the strongest benches in the NBA: Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Nemanja Nedovic, Toney Douglass, Jermaine O Neal, and Mareese Speights. Losing Jack and Landry is a bummer, but paying around $16 million to two players to come off the bench and getting older is not the smart move.
Nedovic and Douglas are two nice options to backup Curry and O’Neal and Speights are both capable of playing center and power forward, which is huge when considering the injury prone Bogut and the torn hip flexor David Lee is coming back from.
Golden State has a solid starting five and has added great depth to their bench through free agency. If this team can stay healthy (which is a big if), expect them to make a run at winning the Western Conference.