Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Warriors fans: Give the Monta Ellis-for-Andrew Bogut trade the benefit of the doubt

OAKLAND – Larry Riley kept jabbing his fingers on the table as he spoke, but he might as well have been pointing them.

All day on Wednesday he had heard and sensed that nobody among Golden State Warriors fans or Golden State Warriors media not affiliated with the team or its payroll or its television network much cared much about him trading Monta Ellis for a player with a bad ankle when he already has a player on his team with a bad ankle.

Warriors’ math: Two bad ankles equal one big turnaround next year. New math.

Well, Larry was ready to lash out at his critics in a press conference before Wednesday night’s game with the Boston Celtics. He made his point. He didn’t mince words.

“Our mandate has been `Be aggressive. Let’s get something done here’,” the Warriors general manager said. “Some of you from time to time even wrote `It’s the same old thing.’ It’s not the same old thing anymore.”

Nope. These are the 21st Century Warriors and they don’t get their big man until they damn well get their big man. The last time the franchise tried so hard to trade for a true center, 1987, they got 27-year-old Ralph Sampson and his history of bad knees for a package that included popular guard Eric “Sleepy” Floyd.

OK, that didn’t work out exactly as planned but these Warriors are tired of status quote this season with a new coach and new ownership. They did something bold.

Plan A was to get Tyson Chandler. Plan B was to get Deandre Jordan. Plan C was to get Kwame Brown.

Strike One. Strike Two. Strike Three.

So the Warriors kept swinging until Plan D delivered the true ‘5’they have desperately sought for weeks, if not months and years and decades.

Yes, trading for 27-year-old seven-footer Andrew Bogut is a risk considering he can’t stay in his feet long enough to live up to his potential as a former No. 1` pick overall in the NBA. Riley admits that much, realizing this trade was done with the hope and expectation that Bogut will get healthy and quit getting hurt.

But, really, what choice did Riley and Warriors have? They have been spinning their wheels with talk of getting better and making the post season.

“We were stuck,” Riley said. “You want to be stuck three games below .500 at this time of the year every year? That’s where we were and that’s where we’re going to go the next year if we couldn’t do something.”

So give this trade time to find a gear and maneuver. Most likely we won’t know until next season if it was worth it. Riley said Wednesday night that point guard Stephen Curry won’t play again this season until he is 100 percent. So unless there is some “We Believe” magic in this team, the Warriors are not going to be in the playoffs this season as the owner and coach promised.

To their credit, they could have played it safe and kept Monta . They took a risk and, if it shapes up as planned, Curry will return as a true point guard, rookie Klay Thompson will evolve as a true two guard to replace Ellis and Bogut will be the first true quality center they have lacked in 25 years.

It’s not the same old thing.


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