The Warriors covet Anthony Davis. They have quietly visualized him joining the squad that has become the best in the NBA.
But now is not the time to make their move.
With Davis reportedly requesting a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, a number of teams are sprinting to line up for the chance to deal while simultaneously scanning their rosters to determine who can be sacrificed to acquire the rangy power forward.
The Warriors, even with the uncertainty surrounding Kevin Durant’s future, won’t be among them.
Nor should they be.
No matter how much a team likes a player that comes available in trade, there are certain conditions that make it improbable and, moreover, reckless. Two such conditions exist with the Warriors.
The first is that they’re 10 days from adding an impact player to the lineup. DeMarcus Cousins, who missed the first 45 games while recovering from serious injury, has played four games and already it is apparent he’s able to contribute.
Adding a second such player in the middle of a season is a recipe for chaos. As Draymond Green said Friday, winning in the NBA is more complex than simply gathering the best talent and putting five guys on the floor. Though the Pelicans utilize an offensive system similar to that of Warriors, the core of the two teams is dramatically different.
The second condition is that the Warriors, as currently constituted, are playing better than any team in the league. They’ve won 10 in a row because the offense is humming, assist numbers are rising, turnover numbers are falling and the defense has been there every time it was needed.
To choose this time to make a move that would require sending away at least one starter might be great in fantasy sports. It would be misguided and disruptive in reality.
The key component to making a trade in today’s NBA is matching the salaries. The Warriors have the capacity to do that, even though Davis has a 15-percent trade kicker. Davis is making 25.4 million this season, and he’s due $27 million next season, after which he is able opt out. The trade kicker, basically a bonus for being dealt, would add roughly $8 million to his contract.
When you’ve won three championships in four years, when you have the best core group in the league, and when you are the hottest team in the NBA, you don’t take silly risks. As great as Davis is, it’s not prudent to chase him via trade.
There are a number of good teams that might need a “shake up” or a rebuild before the Feb. 7 trade deadline. The Warriors, at this time, are not one of them.