With a modest record of 25-24, the Golden State Warriors aren’t the NBA’s typical version of an all-in championship contender.
But just three games out of third place in a crowded Western Conference, the Dubs are far from out of the hunt for their fifth title in nine years with no indication that they’ll stop short of going all-in to get there. Granted, the term “all-in” is a bit limited for a franchise that is already more than $40 million over the tax this season with a projected luxury tax bill of $176.5 million.
Talks of moving Draymond Green persist, but have chilled to a significant degree since his dustup with Jordan Poole during the preseason. Furthermore, the Warriors’ front office doesn’t have a history as the type to move on mid-season from a tentpole like Green, especially not with a legitimate contender on its hands.
As such, Bobby Marks of ESPN suggested in his January 23 column that the most likely deals for Golden State ahead of the league’s February 9 trade deadline involve the younger pieces on the roster, some of whom were once dubbed “untouchable” but whose statuses have since been amended.
Specifically, Marks pitched a trade that swaps third-year center James Wiseman and second-year guard Moses Moody to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for big men P.J. Washington and Mason Plumlee, along with small forward Jalen McDaniels.
Time Has Come For Golden State to Cash in on Wiseman’s Potential
Marks laid out the decision on the table for the Warriors in his explanation of the trade proposal.
Wiseman, the former No. 2 overall pick, missed the entire 2021-22 season with a right knee injury and has played a total of 58 NBA games in three seasons. Because this is a ‘win now’ team, the front office has to analyze if the upside of Wiseman is too appealing or if he should be moved for a player who can contribute now.
Wiseman, who is set to earn $9.6 million this season, is extension eligible this offseason and will become a restricted free agent in 2024.
Washington was the Hornets’ 12th overall pick in 2019, while Wiseman went to the Warriors at No. 2 the following year. While Wiseman’s draft position and raw skill set theoretically give him the greater upside — something the Hornets can buy into as a franchise considering their current position near the bottom of the Eastern Conference — Washington has been the more effective player.
First and foremost, he has been available far more often. As Marks noted, Wiseman has played only 58 games across his entire three-year career. Washington has appeared in at least 58 games every season he has been in the NBA, save for this year in which the power forward/center has started 49 of the Hornets’ 50 regular season contests.
Washington has put up 12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 blocks per game for his career, all of which exceed Wiseman’s averages. Plumlee, meanwhile, is a 10-year veteran averaging nearly a double-double with 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game across 50 starts this season.
A move bringing in Charlotte’s starting front court will ease some of the defensive and rebounding burdens that now rest on Green’s and Kevon Looney’s shoulders, solidifying the Dubs’ front line ahead of what they hope will be another deep playoff run in 2023.
McDaniels is a versatile forward in his fourth NBA season who can add some depth to Golden State’s bench rotation.
Warriors Willing to Listen to Trade Proposals For Wiseman
For much of the last two seasons, the Warriors have been adamant that Wiseman was not available on the trade market, as the franchise viewed him as a building block of the future and a crucial cog in building the bridge to the next era of Golden State basketball beyond Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Green.
However, Rick Bucher of Fox Sports reported on January 21 that all of that has since changed.
“The Warriors, a league source said, have indicated in conversations with other teams that the development of third-year center James Wiseman is not aligning with their hopes of squeezing another championship from the core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green,” Bucher wrote.
As such, Wiseman’s tenure in Golden State could end just six games from now, which are all that remain for the Warriors between today and the NBA’s trade deadline.