The Golden State Warriors haven't gotten a lot better this off-season, but they didn't need to. They were quite simply dominant last year, so on paper at least, just not getting worse is more than enough. Draymond Green and Leandro Barbosa were the only players among the team's top nine in minutes played last season who were free agents, and both re-signed quickly. They also exercised their team option on Marreese Speights.
That leaves David Lee, the one-time All Star who was inadvertently the key to the team's meteoric rise last season when he was replaced in the starting lineup by Green, as the most significant loss. And given the "addition by subtraction" nature of Lee's demotion last season, loss seems like a strong word.
Lee was sent to the Celtics in a move that saved on the Warriors luxury tax bill, but did little else. They acquired Gerald Wallace in the deal, but Wallace seemed beyond done as an NBA player after two years riding the bench in Boston.
Now however the Dubs have managed to flip Wallace to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jason Thompson, again saving money on their tax bill while also getting a 29 year old player capable of contributing. Why the Sixers would make this move is beyond me. They get the right to swap
second first round draft picks as part of the deal, the real impact of which is negligible. It appears they may have given up a useful player for useless one as a means of paying MORE in team salary, since they are below the NBA's salary floor at present. But could they not have gotten SOMETHING for Thompson?
This deal hurts in a couple of ways as a trade deadline deal for Thompson was my pet theory on what they Clippers might be able to do with Jamal Crawford. Now that idea is off the table.
Is Thompson a difference maker for Golden State? Of course not. But he's another useful big, a career starter in Sacramento, and in many ways better than Speights who overacheived last season. Thompson is a terrific small ball five for the Dubs, who won a title with Andrew Bogut on the bench, and just gives them one more damn option. He's still basically no better than tenth on their overall roster, but think about that for a minute. That team is so deep that a 29 year old who has started 405 out of 541 career games with per 36 averages of 12.7 points and 9.4 rebounds is their tenth man.