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It’s hard not to root for Mark Jackson. Well, that is unless you liked him so much as a color commentator that you’re secretly hoping he fails as a coach just so he can be back in the booth with Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen next season. For the sake of this piece, we’re going to assume (hope) you’re not that selfish.
Jackson has done rather well with his first (ever) coaching gig. Going into the All-Star break, Golden State had won five of its last eight games, including victories over the Clippers, Rockets and Suns (twice). Of the three losses in that span, they narrowly lost to Portland (93-91) and Memphis (104-103).
You could argue they’re moving in the right direction, despite Jackson’s lofty objective of instilling a defensive mentality into a team of run-and-gun scorers- the basketball equivalent of turning Jonah Hill into a sex icon.
Considering Steph Curry’s ankle problems and how competitive the West is again this season (Portland is two games above .500 and in 8th place), it appears as though Golden State will be in the lottery for the fifth straight year.
When you factor in their high payroll ($60 mil) and that they already used their amnesty on Charlie Bell (in a failed attempt to clear enough cap space to sign Deandre Jordan) instead of on Biedrins (easily the worst contract in the league- 3 years/ $27 million left for 2 points and 4 rebounds; not even Joe Johnson can top that), it’s clear that this is a team in dire need of a shake up.
So what should they do? Biedrins and David Lee are basically unmovable. Their best bet is to move Monta Ellis, their under-sized leading scorer, to clear cap space, get a higher pick this year, and rebuild from the bottom up. Meanwhile, this would allow them to develop their young talent (Ekpe Udoh, Klay Thompson, and Curry) in the process.
Trading Ellis for Ray Allen would accomplish many of the aforementioned goals. Beyond saving the Warriors $22 million and giving them approximately $20 million in cap space this summer, Golden State would get another pick in a stacked draft that they could use to move up, if they see someone they really like (which they will). They could either keep Allen for leadership purposes (he is the ideal mentor for a rookie shooter like Thompson) or simply buy him out and improve their draft position. Either way, the move improves them long term.
Meanwhile, we’re sure you’re as tired reading it as we are of writing it, but Boston needs to do something. Taking a chance on Ellis would be a prudent gamble for Danny Ainge, considering the alternatives. We looked at other options for Allen before, but Ellis has more homerun potential than any of the other scenarios. He would immediately boost their aging, slow offense and finally give Rondo a running mate. Sure, it would be a small backcourt, but Rondo’s ability to defend most shooting guards could make it work in a way that it hasn’t with Curry. At the very least it’s worth a try, right?
Mark Jackson is high on Klay Thompson. How high? Check out a recent quote of his comparing Thompson to all-time greats: “The similarities are obvious, especially with Ray and Reggie being knockdown shooters with great range.” Monta Ellis is undeniably the better player right now, but the need to open up a starting position for Thompson is apparent. Pairing Thompson and Curry together would help limit Golden State’s vulnerability against big, strong back courts (currently a huge issue with two starting guards generously listed at 6’3, 185 lb). On the other hand, the addition of Beasley would mean yet another defensively-averse player in the rotation.
The argument for bringing in Beasley is simple: its ownership’s desire to swing for the fences (whatever you want to say about him, he still has astronomical upside). If Jackson didn’t want to screw up the team’s chemistry by changing two starters, he could bring Beasley off the bench (a role he has recently shown he can excel in) to anchor the second unit. Plus, if he surprises all of us and manages to get his shit together he could eventually upgrade his role to the second banana to Steph on a winning team for years. Rindour could prove to be a substantial pickup for the Warriors as well, especially given how poorly Nate Robinson has fit in as the backup to Steph Curry thus far.
We’ve discussed Minnesota’s need to move Beasley before - there is simply too much overlap on the T-wolves to maximize the talent, and shooting guard clearly their biggest need (we can all admit Wesley Johnson is terrible now, can’t we?) With the Wolves currently sitting only a couple of games out of the playoffs, obtaining a go-to scoring option like Ellis should help push them over the hump. Ridnour was given his current contract with the idea that he would hold onto the starting role for a couple years while Rubio developed. Between Rubio’s rookie emergence and JJ Barea, the team could afford to move the one-time University of Oregon point guard.
Considering Jackson’s defensive mantra, is there another shooting guard in the league that could offer more of an upgrade than Iguodala? Probably not. Iguodala could cover for Curry defensively and with Dorell Wright and Brandon Rush, suddenly give Jackson some legitimate defensive pieces to play with. Considering Iguodala takes nine fewer shots per game than Ellis, it would also stabilize the offense and allow the ball to be where it should be- in Curry’s hands.
Does Philly take this chance while they’re sitting fourth in the East? It’s debatable. But they should. This current Sixers squad is reminiscent of the Atlanta team from a few years back that pushed the Celtics to seven games, before eventually fizzling out. As competitive as Doug Collins has made this team, does anyone outside of Flipadelphia really think this team can hang with Miami or Chicago? Getting Ellis on the team would not only give the Sixers more firepower, but allow Evan Turner to reach his potential. Plus 6-foot-4 Jrue Holiday is exactly the kind of big point guard you want next to Ellis.
You may have heard that Jerry West is now a top advisor to Larry Riley (the GM of the Warriors). If you know much about Jerry West, you are probably aware of how he feels about undersized guards: he f—ng hates them. Stephen Jackson is a BIG guard, who can hold his own defensively on the perimeter as well as anyone in the league. He’s also under contract for two years compared to Monta’s three, potentially improving the Warriors’ cap situation for the summer of 2014, when it will be time to re-sign Stephen Curry (if they don’t get it done before then).
Stephen Jackson wants out of Milwaukee, Jerry West wants Monta out of his back court, viola!
Calm down Bucks fans, we know what you’re thinking. “Ellis and Jennings in the same back court? Why would we want a stupidly undersized pair of starting guards, we just saw it fail on the Warriors…” But fret not! Jennings isn’t signing an extension in Milwaukee, and will inevitably force his way out sometime within the next year anyway. Shit. That probably didn’t ease the Bucks’ fan base, did it?