From the media room

(Well, OK, the hallway outside the Warriors’ practice facility…)

A series of “ooooooooohs!” went through the room when the Kings took Rider forward Jason Thompson. Somewhere, I think Nellie is laughing through his cigar smoke.

Now, the question is whether LSU’s Anthony Randolph will fall to the Warriors at 14 or be snatched away at the last possible moment.

— Geoff


Should Warriors Go Back-Up Point?

Jerryd Bayless, at this point, is still available. So is Mario Chalmers. With Monta’s struggles at PG and Baron’s injury history and possible departure, should the Warriors go for a floor general?
I say no. Back-up point guards are a dime a dozen.
Eddie House was the back-up PG for the defending champion Celtics. Lindsay Hunter does it for Detroit. Jacque Vaughn for the Spurs.
Sure, those are better teams, but it shows that there are plenty options out there. Maybe they can pick up one in the second round or sign one with the midlevel. But a lottery pick needs to be a baller, someone you expect to be really good at some point. You don’t waste lottery picks on back-ups.


What’s that on the ESPN crawl?

Sorry for the long blog silence on my end and thanks to Marcus for keeping things going. I was taking some much-needed R&R, but I guess that’s over…

Since ESPN has been all over this morning’s story, let’s get some things out of the way first:

* I didn’t assert that the Pistons and Warriors are in current negotiations because I don’t have proof to back that up. If I did, that would have been the lead, and Baron’s decision not to opt-out (something that’s been widely expected by pretty much everyone who reads this blog, or has a pulse) would have been buried eight paragraphs down.
* What I do have is someone whose information and motives I trust telling me that the Pistons are interested in Baron and are willing to deal Rasheed and Chauncey (in general, not just for Baron), a stance that matches up with Joe Dumars’ “no sacred cows” speech at the conclusion of the Pistons’ season.

Let’s not go jumping the gun and buying BD a plane ticket out of town, but let’s say this … if these two teams aren’t currently contemplating such a deal, they should be.

When you write a news story about two opposing sides of a debate, you know you’ve done your job well if neither group has a complaint; that means you’ve given equal treatment. A trade with Baron and Al and Chauncey and Rasheed as headliners is kind of the NBA’s version of that theory, something with pluses and minuses on both sides.

They clear the decks for Rodney Stuckey to take over at PG in 2009-10. They don’t have to worry about next summer, when Rasheed will be looking for a new deal that will take him to 37 or 38 years of age. They get the best individual player in the deal in Baron, and can either let the $17.8 million slide off the cap to use as space to chase another free agent, lock Baron up with their own extension (although that seems less likely, given that they love Stuckey), or sign-and-trade him to any one of the teams that are desperate for point guard help (the Lakers, Clippers and Trail Blazers all jump to mind immediately).

They get back a forward who may not fit what they want to do (Al’s not going to be able to replace Rasheed’s defensive versatility). And unless they proactively sign Baron to an extension, there’s always the chance that he’ll walk away and they’ll have little to show for their two best players.

They get arguably the second-best option to plug their power-forward spot (the best option is busy smoking victory cigars and having free drinks bought for him in Boston), especially given Rasheed’s 3-point range. They get rid of one player (Al) who was unhappy with the way he was used last season and another (BD) who was disappointed by the team’s lowball extension offers this summer. They get another big point guard who can defend 2 guards so Monta Ellis can play the same 2-on-offense/1-on-defense hybrid that made him one of the league’s hottest young players.

They give up a lot of years in this scenario (BD is 2 1/2 years younger than Chauncey; Al has more than 5 years on Sheed). A LOT. And while that jump-starts a final push under Nellie, it puts them in jeopardy of paying out eight figures three years from now to players on the far side of 35 who have declined.

Any deal with Baron won’t happen until after July 1 (and won’t be finalized until July 9) because there’s no reason for Baron to agree in writing to not use his opt-out provision. We’ll have to wait and see if Thursday changes the dynamic for either team before determining if this possibility remains viable.

— Geoff


Draft Prospects: C Brook Lopez

Comparison: The common one is Clippers center Chris Kaman. But he’s significantly more skilled and imposing down low. He’s more of a true center than Lopez will ever be. I see Brook as more of a Andrew Bogut type.

Strengths: Brook’s combination of size and skill makes him a potential NBA stud. He is a legitimate 7-footer, even bigger because of his super wingspan. As a you’d expect from a Stanford product, he has a good basketball IQ and solid fundamentals. He has enough athleticism to survive, perhaps even more than he gets credit for. He probably won’t be finishing alley-oops on fastbreaks, but he can run the floor, manuever inside and react sufficiently. His sheer size and understanding of the game offsets his athletic shortcomings. Brook has a nice touch and soft hands, which really shine when he has the ball in the paint. He can finish and pass. He also can score in the post. He has smooth low-post moves, a certain fluidity that comes with having a feel for the paint. He knows the intangibles of playing inside: how to establish position, how to use his strength to get where he wants, how to gain leverage against the post defender, understanding of how to take up space, the coordination to improvise on the fly. He also has a motor in him. plays hard on both ends, which is why he’s so productive. He’s an OK shot blocker, pretty good at protecting the basket from the weakside.

Weaknesses: He’s not as athletic as many NBA big men, not as athletic as his twin brother Robin. That will hurt him on the defensive end more than anything. He should be a better shotblocker based on his size and wingspan, but he’s just not quick enough nor can jump high enough to dominate at the rim. His so-so athleticism is a disadvantage on the boards, but athleticism is not a prerequisite for being a good rebounder. He should be averaging more than 8.6 per game. Not that good from the free throw line, considering his touch, but that can be worked on. Gets a little to psyched out sometimes and takes bad shots. Non way she should be shooting under 47 percent from the floor. The same motor and gung-ho approach that makes him productive sometimes has him doing too much. He’s got a nice postgame, but he’s going to have to expand it. He’s rather predictable on offense, so scouts won’t have a hard time figuring out how to contain him.

Fit With the Warriors: The Warriors certainly can use some of what Brook has. They need someone who can score with their back to the basket. He can. They need someone with some size who can be a presence in the middle. He can. They need a big man who can stick a mid-range jumper. He can. The only question is do you want him over Andris Biedrins? Do you need him enough to move up in the draft? Not to me.
Sure, Brook could be a nice back-up at first. But eventually, he’d either have to be a starter. He’s not athletic enough to play power forward for the Warriors, especially not as athletic as Brandan Wright, which means he has to play center. If he doesn’t eventually become a starter, he’d be considered a bust (you see what happened to PO’B). Plus the Warriors have a cheaper back-up center who has a similar game, perhaps even better, in Kosta Perovic.
If Brook does become the starter, where does that leave Biedrins? I’d prefer Biedrins’ hustle, rebounding knack and stellar field goal percentage. I would rather bank on Biedrins adding to his game what Brook has rather than waiting for Brook to add what Biedrins brings.

Chances of ending up a Warrior: Not as low as once expected. As perhaps the best big man in the draft, Brook was once considered a lock at No. 3. He still may go there, but now some are thinking that’s too high for him. His potential isn’t as high as some other players. NBADraft.net has him going to Charlotte at No. 9. Only three teams between No. 3 and 13 has a center as their biggest need: Minnesota, Memphis and New Jersey. If they go “best player available” there is reason to believe they could pass on Brook. If the Warriors really wanted him, and Minnesota or Memphis doesn’t take him, its feasible they could work a deal to move up to 9 or 10 and nab him.

Take a look at what they’d be getting in Brook:


Going After Yi?

I talked to a member of the Warriors organization. According to this person, ESPN.com’s report that the Warriors were in hot pursuit of Yi on draft night a year ago provoked “great laughter” throughout the office. Not that they don’t like Yi as a player, but they weren’t manuevering that day to get Yi.
Here’s what I was told:
No, they weren’t trying to get Yi when they traded Jason Richardson during last year’s draft.
No, they aren’t looking to trade Brandan Wright for Yi now either.
No, they aren’t looking to move Brandan Wright. Period.
It must be noted that Yi’s camp, according to league insiders, does not want him in Milwaukee and would love for him to land in the Bay Area, which would be a perfect fit because of its Asian population. It also must be noted that if the Warriors really are desperate for Yi, according to my first-hand expertience with them, they would probably say they ARE NOT trying to trade for him.
The reality is, you just never know what Chris Mullin’s thinking.


Draft Prospects: F Michael Beasley

Comparison: This a tough one. People are saying Amare Stoudemire, but I’d say picture a shorter Amare with outside shooting ability, though not quite as athletic. Or, picture Carmelo Anthony with an inside game, a bit better handle but not as good an outside shot. Better yet, Beasley is what the Warriors thought/hoped they were getting in Billy Owens.

Strengths: They say he’s undersized, but I’m not buying it. Would you like him 6-foot-10? Sure. But at 6-foot-9 (which usually means he’s closer to 6-8 or even 6-7), 235 pounds with his athleticism, he’ll be just find. Because of his grown man’s strength and leaping ability, he plays bigger than his size. But what makes his special is that because of his quickness and skill set, he also plays smaller than his size. That’s a tough combo. Not too many people have his inside-outside ability (which is why it is so tough to find a comparison). His back-to-the-basket game is not to the level of an Elton Brand, especially against NBA defense, but he can handle his own down there and he certainly has the tools to get better. He has a soft touch inside, great hands, knows how to throw his weight around and is agile enough to move with fluidity among the trees. And his instinct, which is so necessary for a post game, is spot on. But right now, his perimeter game is his best feature, especially because he’s so big for that role. He can handle the ball, can knock down shots from anywhere on the floor, already has a pull-up in his bag of tricks. Plus, he’s a lefty, so it looks pretty.
What most impresses me about him is that he has the intangibles to match his talent. He works hard on the glass (he averaged four offensive rebounds!) and battles for position. He seems to have an understanding of defensive concepts, which shows in his ability to play passing lanes and block shots from the weakside. And he has a natural scoring knack. He just finds ways to put the ball in the hole. You can take away something, but he still can score in other ways. His productivity in college was historic: 26.2 points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 1.3 steals.

Weaknesses: People say his size. To be sure, it will cause him some problems on the defensive end when he’s matched up against taller players. But once he learns how to use his athleticism to his advantage on that end, it won’t be that big of an issue. A bigger issue is the Superman complex he has. Confidence is a must, but this dude looks arrogant to me. At times he tried to take over when patience was necessary. He doesn’t take smart shots and it comes back to haunt his team. He apparently knows he can knockdown fadeaway jumpers and go one-on-four, because he has no problem attempting to do so at the wrong times. It’s hard to tell if he’s a team player because Kansas State needed him to be a beast, but 1.2 assists per game is unacceptable for someone with his talent. Another big concern in my opinion, is his overall work ethic. There have been whispers about it, and his game, you can tell, is based totally on talent and physical dominance. I don’t worry about his attitude problems so much. He’s been an NBA prospect since middle school. It’s hard to stay humble. And he stayed under control this season, by all accounts. But it’s something teams should be paying attention to. There are some tangible things he needs to work on — dribbling with his right hand, developing a go-to move in the post, defensive technique — but that’s to be expected from a 19 year old.

Fit with the Warriors: He’s not the answer to their big man prayers, but he’d be a great plan B. He rebounds, which the Warriors desperately need, and he has some back-to-the-basket skills, which the Warriors can use. Most important, he’s potentially a match-up nightmare, which fits perfectly into Nellie’s system. The fact that he’s not a definite small or power forward is a problem for some teams, but the Warriors love swingmen. He can be a big man in their small lineup and still take advantage of his little man skills because of the Warriors style of play. He can score, which is a must for Nellie. And he has the ability to pull big men out of the paint with his outside shot.

Chances of ending up a Warrior: Slim to none. Whether he goes 1 or 2, His value is way too high. Miami or Chicago want more than what the Warriors are willing to give, or even have. Dwyane Wade said in a story that ran today that he’s heard his name mentioned in trade rumors with Chicago. If that’s what the Bulls are requiring for the top pick, the Warriors can forget about it. Miami does need to fill their roster, and would assuredly like Monta and/or Brandan Wright and/or Marco Belinelli. But that is likely not enough to pass up on what is being described as sure bets in Beasley and Rose.

Here is a look at the Beastley one: