9

Vote Nash, vote often?

Probably the last thing Warriors fans want to do is show support to a point guard other than their own Baron Davis, but if you’re a GS faithful and want to see BD in the All-Star Game next month, start clicking for Steve Nash instead of your own star.

The reasoning is this: Nash is one of only two guards who are mortal locks to make the Western Conference squad. (The other is Kobe Bryant.) Chris Paul is a near-certainty, but not quite at that same level. Everyone else (Baron, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Allen Iverson, Brandon Roy, Deron Williams, etc.) is a step below, fighting for one and maybe two more spots.

As of the update released Jan. 10, Houston’s Tracy McGrady was second in balloting among Western Conference guards with 907,639 votes and stood to be named a starter. Now, McGrady would never get chosen by the WC coaches as a reserve, not after missing as much time as he has this season. So if McGrady gets knocked out of that spot, Davis’ chances become that much better.

That’s especially true if McGrady were to be bumped by Nash, who was fourth at 808,995 votes, instead of Iverson (third at 827,273). If Nash wins a starting spot, that would mean that probably two at-large berths will be available for that group of guys chasing Paul.

If Nash fails, it’s hard to see how Baron gets on the team. At that point, it’s four guys in (Kobe, McGrady, Paul and Nash) with one spot available, and I can’t believe the coaches will leave off Roy in favor of BD. (One caveat: If McGrady is hurt badly enough that he can’t play, then it becomes a David Stern-judged horse race between AI and BD to replace him, and I think BD could win that.)

– Geoff

13

Don’t Mess with Monta

Never witnessed that side of Monta Ellis before. But last night, when Jamaal Tinsley that shoulder check, Monta was angry. He played like he was angry. Fortunately for the Warriors, he plays well angry.
Young dude was possessed. He was aggressive, but still smart. He didn’t force it too much, but he made sure he was involved. He’s probably tired of people going after him, trying to guard him by roughing him up. I was glad to see him keep his composure. Plus, it was probably a smart move not to run up on someone whose used to being shot at. I can’t imagine Tinsley, a product of the NYC streets, who has about 50 pounds on Monta, was worried about the frail third-year guard. Nonetheless, that incident pumped some life into the Warriors.
It was good to see Monta answer the bell and not crumble. He was so disappointing in the playoffs, watching him take his game to another level when challenged was encouraging.

3

Another knock for T-Mac

Houston Rockets star Tracy McGrady has been taking heat from all points in recent weeks as he sits out with several nagging problems in his left knee. The Chicago Tribune suggested that he’s not happy in Houston and wouldn’t mind being dealt. And the Detroit News reported that one Piston said McGrady should get a new nickname in honor of his cousin, New Jersey guard Vince Carter, who goes by the handle “Half-Man, Half-Amazing.” That Piston’s idea for McGrady? “Half-Man, Half-A-Season.”

Well, a member of the Warriors (who shall remain nameless because the comment was off the cuff rather than officially on the record) had this to say recently about McGrady’s various knee ailments, which have been blamed for his eight-games-and-counting absence: “He’s not hurt, not hurt bad enough to miss games. He’s just tired of losing.”

Obviously, it’s hard (if not impossible) to know that for sure from two time zones away, but it’s certainly interesting to see how a reputation gets perpetuated and cemented around the league.

– Geoff

26

Midseason Help

The more I think about it, the more I conclude the Warriors have to make some kind of move. The West is too deep. 45 wins may not get you in. The Warriors are clinging to the eighth seed right now, and you know Utah and Houston are going to make a run.
There are some guys out there, too. Zach Randolph is supposedly on his way to Milwaukee. He would be pricey (three years $48 million after this year), and would put to end whatever chances the Warriors have of being players on the free agent market. But imagine Randolph with this lineup? It may be worth looking into.
There are other options. Mike Miller (two years, $17M-plus after this year) would be great offense coming off the bench. He may not even cost you Al Harrington, as the Grizzlies are chock full of perimeter-oriented forwards. The expiring contracts of Pietrus, Patrick O’Bryant and Kosta Perovic just might do the trick.
Another player who would be a good fit, believe it or not, is Antawn Jamison. He’s an expiring contract ($11.6M) so he wouldn’t hurt the Warriors ability to make future moves. He’s a true scorer and a pretty good rebounder who would fit perfectly in this offense. Unfortunately, the Wizards are still in the hunt, so they may just hang on to him. But if Arenas is serious about shutting it down for the season, they may look to unload Jamison and re-stock with a cheaper player to compliment Arenas and Caron Butler. It may cost the Warriors Al Harrington, which is almost a lateral move (Antawn is probably a better rebounder and scorer around the basket).
This is a long shot, but may be more feasible than you’d expect: Elton Brand. He’s possibly an expiring contract who would be just returning from injury at around the trade deadline. He has the ability to opt out, and rumor is that he wants to. The Clippers, whose season is done, may be looking to get something for Brand now. The main problem is that the Clippers wouldn’t want to help the Warriors, especially not after the way Mike Dunleavy Jr. was treated. Plus, Brand is expensive ($15M), so the Warriors would have to give up quite a bit, maybe Harrington and Pietrus. But stranger trades have been pulled off.

7

Can the Warriors Get In?

So, the Warriors have conquered their Spurs jinx, and they may have finally started showing up for the Lakers rivalry. Now they can’t beat Portland.
This begs the question, what are the Warriors playoff chances? Realistically. There are 10 really good teams in the Western Conference. The Warriors just may be 9 or 10. They certainly aren’t going to finish higher than seven.

San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas, Lakers, New Orleans and Portland are all better, or at least will finish with better records. That leaves the Warriors, Denver, Houston and Utah fighting for the last two spots. Maybe you can throw Portland in this mix (will they slow down, right?), making it five teams fighting for three spots.

As Warriors fans, you have to be nervous about the team’s chances. They’re a good team, but they may not be good enough. They’re going to be forced to make a move at the deadline to get even better just to keep up.

20

Oracle Struggles

You want to know what’s wrong with the Warriors at home? The last play of the first half Monday told it all. The Warriors hustled up a steal and had a three-on-one fastbreak in the final seconds, with Stephen Jackson leading the break.
What does he do? You knew it was coming as he slowed down and gathered into his trademark shot. He pulled up for three.
I know what you’re thinking. If he makes it, it’s a huge shot. True enough. The problem is that he’s going to miss it far more than he’s going to make it. At best, he makes 20 percent of those pull-up 3-pointers. Are the eight misses worth the two makes?
Instead of getting a lay-up, and going into the locker rrom up 53-44, he took a gamble worth one extra point. For what? To gain momentum that would’ve dissolved by halftime anyway?
It’s those type of decisions, the thirst for the big play, that have the Warriors 8-7 at Oracle Arena. Instead of going for the dagger, trying to play into the crowd, make the smart play, get to the basket.
Here’s a stat that shows what I’m talking about. At home, the Warriors average 23.9 free throw attempts. On the road, 27.9. Shouldn’t you get to the line more at home than on the road, where you don’t get the calls?
When the Warriors play the same smart ball they do often on the road, they’re unstoppable at Oracle. Just ask Phoenix. In arguably the biggest home win of the season (unless they pull it out tonight), the Warriors took 28 3-pointers (right around their average) and had 31 assists. They went right at the Suns, taking it to the rim, instead of bailing Phoenix out with jumpers.
That should be the model for how the Warriors play at home.

22

Warriors to sign CJ Watson

We’ll have a story with more details up on the Web in a few minutes, but in the meantime . . .

Chris Mullin and Don Nelson are getting serious about giving Baron Davis some time off. Mullin told the Times at this morning’s shootaround that the team will be signing rookie point guard C.J. Watson today to a 10-day contract, with the hopes of lowering Davis’ average of 39.4 minutes per game.

“We’ll give him a look,” Mullin said of the 6-foot-2 product of Tennessee. “He could be a good backup for us. That’s why he’s coming here, to figure that out.”

Watson, who has been tearing up the NBA Development League this season with averages of 26.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, is scheduled to arrive tonight but isn’t expected to play against the Spurs. After a practice tomorrow, he should be available to suit up against the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday.

“He’s playing very well in the D-League,” Nelson said, “and we need some help.”