Golden State Warriors get: SF Andre Iguodala (four years, $48 million)
Utah Jazz get: SF Richard Jefferson, C Andris Biedrins , G/F Brandon Rush, 2014 and 2017 unprotected first round pick (from GS), 2018 second round pick (from Denver), cash
Denver Nuggets get: G Randy Foye (three years, $9 million)
Atlanta Hawks get: PF Paul Millsap (two years, $19 million, via free agency)
Charlotte Bobcats get: PF/C Al Jefferson (three years, $41 million, via free agency)
If the two unprotected first rounders didn’t suggest it, the Warriors are in “win-now” mode. Duh.
The Warriors are going all-in with their current team after just their second winning season in almost twenty years. In a three team deal, the Warriors sent Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush (almost $24 million in salary for next season!) to the Utah Jazz, with Andre Iguodala coming to the Warriors and Randy Foye going to the Jazz, along with two unprotected first round picks. In two separate transactions, former Utah Jazz big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson will leave unencumbered from Salt Lake City, heading to the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats, respectively.
The Dubs will pay $39 million to just Stephen Curry, David Lee and Iguodala next year, without figuring in $9 million to Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, as well as $14 million to center Andrew Bogut. The roster is capped out for the foreseeable future, especially when taking into considering at Thompson will most likely sign a eight figure extension in the next year or so, and Barnes doing the same the year afterwards.
But why wouldn’t they go all-in with this team? They were just two wins away from defeating the Spurs in the second round this past May, with Stephen Curry playing like an All-NBAer and both Thompson and Barnes looking like future All-Stars. However, it was glaringly obvious that the Warriors were missing a perimeter stopper to aide Bogut’s massive post presence.
The team got exactly what it needed in Iguodala. The former All-Defense stud has been a perimeter stalwart for years, finishing in the top 8 of Defensive Player of the Year voting the last three years. He’s just 29, has a solid stroke from the three-point line and will do wonders to help facilitate the offense even further (if that’s possible), as he did in helping the Nuggets become the league’s premier scoring unit last season. Moreover, his presence will help Thompson and Barnes turn their ample defensive potential into actual skill, as they’ll not only get to learn from him day to day, but also be able to excel as help defenders and ball hawks instead of meriting “first stopper” duties simply by default.
For Utah, the prize here is obvious: fully unprotected picks next season (though it should be a low pick) and in 2017. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson leaving via free agency (the latter with a laughable, three year, $41 million dollar deal from the Bobcats) and the still developing Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter on hand, the Jazz decided to go full bore on rebuilding via the draft next year. Vets like Richard Jefferson, Biedrins and the recovering Rush (from a torn ACL on opening night last year) shouldn’t be able to help much in terms of on-court contributions—paying their salaries are simply the price of grabbing two first rounders. I mean, Biedrins isn’t in the Bad NBA Contract Hall of Fame for nothing, you know?
Foye (11 ppg, 40% 3P for Utah last year) is an okay consolation prize for the surely soon to be sorely missed Iguodala, though the former is headed to the guard-rich Denver Nuggets, who already have Ty Lawson, Andre Miller and Evan Fournier. The Jazz aren’t trying to win games next year, but are attempting to see what they have in Favors and Kanter, and to a lesser extent Alec Burks and new point guard Trey Burke. Combined with the nearly $60 million offered Jefferson and Millsap, keeping both power forwards didn’t seem like the prudent move.
As mentioned, Jefferson got a gigantic contract from the Bobcats, who are desperately trying to upgrade from “historically terrible” to merely “really bad”. Big Al will certainly help them on offense as a dominant post scorer, but he rarely passes and couldn’t defend a pick and roll if a flaming arrow was heading toward his caveman face. For that price and considering their motivations for next season, the Jazz were happy to wave goodbye. Millsap seems to be an entirely different scenario, even given the Jazz’s rebuilding, seeing as his contract made me yell “WHAT??” alone in my apartment. Two years and $19 million seems like a relative pittance for such a fantastic borderline All-Star player that’s averaged no less than 17 points and 8 rebounds in any of the past three seasons. And…he’s just 28 years old! The Hawks got an absolute steal here for such a skilled player that works hard on defense and can hit an open 15 footer. Even for a rebuilding team, the Jazz should have re-signed him, if for nothing more than a trade asset in the future. Then again, I’m sure Millsap saw the writing on the wall and wanted to go to a team that at least has a chance to make the postseason, which is exactly what Atlanta is.
Overall, this complex series of transactions has (in my mind) cemented the Warriors as a Western Conference Finals contender, if Curry and Bogut can stay on the floor and both Thompson and Bares continue to improve. Denver, along with their total mess of an offseason, got appreciably worse, while Utah set a course towards the lottery.