The trade deadline has passed, the Warriors are done dealing. So Warriors general manager Larry Riley, surveying the fruits of his labors, felt good enough to make some pretty bold statements.
“Frankly, ladies and gentleman, we’ve changed the organization. We’ve changed the Warriors organization in terms of the way we do business and our roster.”
“I don’t want to sit in front of the media and make a comment I made last year: ‘I like our team, but I don’t like our record. That gets worn out pretty quick. It was time to go in a different direction and let’s go see if we can grab the brass ring.”
“There is no doubt in our mind that our roster has improved by leaps and bounds. … There is no doubt that the Warriors roster is a much better roster. The media used to ask me if this roster a playoff roster. And we’d have to look at it and say, ‘Uhhh, maybe so, maybe not.’ This is a playoff roster.”
You can see why Riley is feeling good. Thursday afternoon, the Warriors officially announced they traded Stephen Jackson to San Antonio. In exchange, they received small forward Richard Jefferson, the Spurs’ lottery-protected 2012 first-round draft pick, and retiring point guard T.J. Ford. So, all totaled, this trade season has produced their starting center of the future, all but ensured their presence in the first round of the NBA draft.
Golden State also bought a second-round pick from the Atlanta Hawks, giving them two. Combined with a late-first round pick, Golden State has some pieces to possibly move up in the draft. So the Warriors feel like they’ll be in good position come June.
“The point is we now have some tools to work with,” Riley said. “We’ll improve our position in the draft anyway we possibly can. That isn’t something that absolutely has to be done, but it is something that is absolutely desirable.”
Riley said he’d been talking with Spurs general manager R.C. Buford on Wednesday, but talks really got going on Thursday morning. The Spurs’ condition wound up being amenable. They wanted the draft pick lottery protected (meaning San Antonio keeps their pick if they miss the playoffs and wind up with one of the top 14 picks) and they wanted the Warriors to take the expiring $1.2 million contract of T.J. Ford – who has said he’s going to retire after his latest spinal injury.
The Warriors were willing to add the salary. They are already taking on an extra year of salary with Jefferson, who has two years left after this year worth more than $21 million (Jackson had one year left worth $10 million). Golden State also added future salary in the deal for Bogut, so the Warriors will probably have just the mid-level exception to work with when it comes to free agents.
But Riley, the way he’s feeling right now after the renovation the Warriors just pulled off, couldn’t care less about being under the salary cap. Especially after the Warriors have failed in the past at signing any big-time free agents.
“I’m telling you,” Riley said, “I’d rather have players than space.”