Warriors

Why Warriors should trade Jacob Evans to make room for Marquese Chriss

jacobevansap.jpg
AP

Why Warriors should trade Jacob Evans to make room for Marquese Chriss

The Warriors are stuck between a rock and a hard cap.

Golden State has very little in the way of salary cap room and roster flexibility as a result of the sign-and-trade for D'Angelo Russell. With the preseason in full swing and the regular season fast approaching, The Warriors were already going to have to make some tough decisions, and that was before Marquese Chriss fell into the Dubs' laps.

The decision the Warriors now face is even tougher, but only because they lucked out.

Through the first two preseason games, it's evident that Chriss is far too talented to let out of their grasps. A former lottery pick, Chriss offers the combination of youth and talent that Golden State needs so desperately on its pivoting roster. With the injuries to Kevon Looney, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alen Smailagic, Chriss has the look of an important big-man contributor, both in the present and down the line. Quite simply, he needs to be on the regular-season roster.

If only it was that simple.

The Warriors don't have enough room under the salary cap to sign Chriss to a guaranteed contract -- which, at this point, he's certain to command from another team if not Golden State -- so in order to get him on the roster, someone else would have to depart. The simplest solution would be to release Alfonzo McKinnie, as the small forward's salary doesn't become fully guaranteed until Jan. 10. However, that's not the only possible solution.

McKinnie has an elite skill -- rebounding -- which is more than one can say for second-year guard Jacob Evans. The No. 28 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft underwhelmed in his first professional season, averaging 1.3 points per game over 30 appearances while struggling with his shot. Drafted with the intention of being Klay Thompson's future backup at shooting guard, Evans has already undergone somewhat of a position switch, as he's now the default third point guard behind Steph Curry and Russell.

Evans might thrive in that role and prove to be a critical member of Golden State's roster this season. He could provide Curry and Russell with the occasional breather, while using his now-superior length at the '1' to be a staunch defender. That's the ideal realistic scenario, and Evans certainly does still offer some promise. His shot appears somewhat improved. But that is precisely why he should be traded.

If the Warriors cut McKinnie, they get nothing. You could argue he's more expendable to Golden State than Evans is, given the presence of Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks and Damion Lee (to an extent), all of whom potentially could play the '3'. However, both Robinson III and Burks are newcomers to the organization, and the Warriors can use all of the retained experience in Steve Kerr's system that they can get. McKinnie might not be an All-Star, or even average, but no one can say for certain that he isn't Golden State's best option at small forward.

[RELATED: Robinson III makes his case as Dubs' starting small forward]

If the Warriors aren't going to cut someone to make room for Chriss, then a trade is the alternative method. Golden State could try to find a taker for big man Omari Spellman, as Chriss could help the Warriors cover from a positional standpoint. However, with Smailagic still very raw, the Dubs might be better off prioritizing depth at center.

Spellman was the No. 30 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, taken by the Hawks two selections after Golden State took Evans. As such, the two second-year players have nearly identical salaries, as well as team options for the next two seasons beyond this one.

If the Warriors are going to give something up, they might as well get something in return. Of the aforementioned options, Evans would likely bring back the largest return. Granted, it won't be large whatsoever. It's bound to be extremely minimal, along the lines of a future second-round draft pick, several seasons into the future.

But, that's something. And right now, the Warriors need to be accumulating assets that will help rebuild the franchise in the wake of significant offseason losses. Chriss is one of those assets. As for Evans, he might be more of an asset to Golden State if he's on another team.

Warriors still searching for answers on defense after loss vs. Lakers

Warriors still searching for answers on defense after loss vs. Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- Five seconds into the Warriors' 120-94 loss Wednesday night, Lakers forward LeBron James took one dribble and threw a crosscourt alley-oop pass to JaVale McGee, leading to Los Angeles' easiest bucket of the evening.

The play marked a familiar scenario for Golden State. In the last month, a once-dominant defense has descended to the league's worst unit. By the end of Wednesday evening, it added yet another lackluster performance to its résumé.

"We never had any traction in that game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted. "We had some spells where we made some good things happen offensively and maybe got a stop or two but every time it felt like we were right there we just couldn't get a stop."

Golden State's defensive lapses started early Wednesday evening at Staples Center. Through the first 12 minutes, Los Angeles shot 69 percent, including five 3-pointers. James scored 19 of his team-high 23 points in the first half, adding six rebounds as the Lakers scored 64 points in the paint.

Defensive lapses were all too common Wednesday evening. In the third quarter, James received an inbounds pass from guard Alex Caruso, drove baseline as Caruso screened both D'Angelo Russell and Glenn Robinson, leading to an easy pass to Dwight Howard for a wide-open dunk.

Throughout his tenure, Kerr's defensive philosophy required his team to get three straight stops at least once during a game. For the last five years, the strategy worked. The Warriors finished in the top 10 in defensive rating in four of the five seasons. Now, with Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant gone, and both Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney out of the lineup, the Warriors are giving up more than 120 points per game.

The defensive effort has gotten so bad that Kerr used Wednesday's shootaround -- usually reserved for light pregame preparation -- as an intense practice that mirrored his training camps of the past.

During the session, he put his team through a gauntlet of defensive drills in hopes they would spark an improvement. Adding to the conundrum is the face the Warriors aren't using one defensive method that made them one of the league's most vaunted defensive units.

"Most guys in general struggle with communication," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "It's kind of amplified when you're dealing with younger guys. You always wonder is the communication because you're not comfortable? Because you don't know. But half the battle is getting them to say something.

"If you can get people to say something," he added. "If it's the wrong thing, your teammates can react to the wrong thing and if you overwork the wrong thing it becomes right. The battle is to get everyone to communicate and that's an area we have to grow in."

[RELATED: Kerr losing patience, but Warriors see no alternative]

The Warriors' defensive troubles come as the team's health is in peril. Of the nine active players in the loss to the Lakers, just one was on the team's roster last season.

As Green walked out of Staples Center, the forward perfectly summed up the team's current state.

"I think we've improved but we've got a long ways to go," Green said. "A long ways to go."

Steve Kerr's patience thinning, but Warriors see no real alternatives

Steve Kerr's patience thinning, but Warriors see no real alternatives

LOS ANGELES – Steve Kerr spent a few minutes before tipoff Wednesday night musing about his predicament, which has transformed him into a coach Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, to name two former Warriors, would not recognize.

A coach with no choice but to tolerate the messes made by a roster heavy on youth and thinned by a slew of injuries.

“We’ve had anywhere from eight to 10 guys available each night,” Kerr said before a 120-94 loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. “There are nights where I would love to take someone out based on a mistake they made. But I can’t take them out.

“We don’t have that hammer, as a coaching staff, to be able to reward guys with playing time or penalize them by taking playing time away.”

So, the mistakes keep coming, with no real consequences for those who make them.

“We’ve already improved some,” Draymond Green said after the game. “But we’ve got a long way to go. A long way to go.”

The Warriors conducted defensive drills during their morning shootaround – something they haven’t done since 2014-15 – because the coaching staff feels a need to emphasize and reemphasize points that might keep them from remaining the worst defensive team in the NBA.

“It’s crazy,” Green said of the morning session. “It’s interesting. It’s different. But you’ve got to teach. The thing about the NBA is you don’t have a ton of practices. So, you have to kind of teach on the fly. I get it.”

Being spanked by a potent Lakers team won’t help their horrid numbers and will only provide more video to study in hopes of learning. LA shot 53.9 percent from the field, including 45 percent from beyond the arc. In the first half, when the game was being decided, those numbers were 63 percent and 50 percent.

“Defensively, we never really had any traction,” Kerr said afterward. “We had some spells where we made some good things happen offensively, maybe got a stop or two. But every time it felt like we were right there, we just couldn’t get a stop.

“It’s almost impossible to win in this league when you can’t count on getting three stops in a row at some point.”

These standards, set by the great Warriors teams of recent seasons, are new and daunting for rookies Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall, who previously would have been in sit-and-learn mode this season. In addition, the veterans new to the Warriors – Alec Burks, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III and D’Angelo Russell – are having their own difficulties.

There is no choice but to live with the turnovers (Russell had five), the late defensive rotations and offensive sequences destined for segments on Shaqtin’ A Fool.

The Warriors are, in short, "Mistakes R Us."

Green and the veteran coaches who over the last five seasons prodded and pushed in pursuit of perfection can only watch and sigh. And contain the frustrations while waiting for lessons to be absorbed.

Bell and Jones are gone largely because they came into circumstances wherein there was very low tolerance for errors, particularly mental errors. They were kids among champions, new to a franchise chasing history, and simply were unable to approach the ultra-high standards set by such players as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – as well as regal veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

So, when a youngster made a mistake in a game, Kerr was quick to summon a vet. He was coaching for wins, not growth. That was for practice.

Now, the focus is on growth with the faint hope it might lead to some victories. The Warriors are 2-10, with one proven scorer, Russell, and little reason to believe they can produce a startling turnaround.

“It’s understandable that we’re taking some licks, given the state of our team right now,” Kerr said. “But we have to learn from our mistakes. We’ve got to get better from game to game, especially defensively. It has to come.

“Not seeing it right now.”

[RELATED: What we learned as Warriors losing streak hits five games]

It’s not visible. It’s not there. It should get better, simply because the labor is not being questioned.

Until then, there is nothing that can be done by Kerr or Green or any of the coaches, all of whom are accustomed to repairing strategic issues in a matter of minutes, and penalizing those who couldn’t keep up.