Here is a link to my Sunday column which discusses the Warriors decision to stand pat at the trading deadline. The full text runs below:
Teams usually make news by doing something. The Warriors just made news by doing nothing.
The Warriors didn’t mess with their team. On Thursday, the NBA trading deadline came and went, and the Warriors watched it come and go and waved it goodbye. Not interested.
The Warriors have needs. Don’t kid yourself. They could use another big man. They really could. Center Andrew Bogut is always one false step away from getting hurt and missing games. And the Warriors could use someone in the backcourt to take the pressure off Stephen Curry — absorb some of Curry’s minutes so Curry doesn’t enter the playoffs exhausted. It’s not like the Warriors are the perfect team.
But they are a thrilling, potent team and they do have the best record in the league. On Friday night, they ran the NBA-champion San Antonio Spurs out of Oakland, although you expect the Warriors-Spurs narrative to continue in the postseason. And Sports Illustrated just published a long feature on the emergence of the Warriors — the current issue of SI features Klay Thompson on the cover.
The prevailing theory among Warriors’ decision-makers — call it the current philosophy — is refrain from messing with a good thing.
The Warriors refrained from making a mess.
The aversion to mess making is relevant around here. It’s certainly relevant next door to the Warriors. Last year, the Oakland A’s had a good thing going. A really good thing. Billy Beane, the A’s decision-maker, made a big decision. Created the ultimate mess by getting rid of Yoenis Cespedes. If Beane had stood pat, the A’s couldn’t have done any worse than they did — they fell all the way to the wild-card game and lost that game. See you later, A’s.
And remember this. The current World Series-champion San Francisco Giants — yes, those guys — generally establish a roster and stick with it. They depend on their guys to come through. Believe in their guys.
The Warriors clearly followed the Giants’ philosophy — stand your ground, believe in your guys, don’t screw up by over-reaching. Don’t meddle just to meddle.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr talked about doing nothing after the trade deadline expired. He was at the Warriors facility. He was smiling. He posed for a photo holding the cover of SI with Thompson’s photo on it, said he once had been on the SI cover, in a corner of it. You could see him if you looked closely.
“The continuity of what we have is more important than any trade-deadline deal you can make,” he said. “You only have 30 games to incorporate a guy and, if you’re going to try to get a major piece, it’s tricky. I’m thrilled we stood pat. We have a team we like. We have great chemistry, there’s no reason to disrupt that.”
I stopped him. “You’re saying you’re happy no deals happened?” I said.
“Yeah, I like our team,” he said. “Once you have a talented roster, you’ve got to let that grow. It happens over time. You want to rush it, but you can’t. You look at Atlanta, what they’re doing this year. This is their second year. They had the same pieces last year. I know they had some injuries, but when we played them, the next day Kyle Korver said, ‘We put our offense in last year, but this year we’re really understanding it. We’re all in tune with one another.’
“That’s because they stayed together. That’s because they have the same group and the same staff. That’s what we want to accomplish here. We’re trying to accelerate the process as much as we can. With a new staff, we’re putting in a lot of new stuff. We feel we’re going to get better and better.”
Why does he put in new stuff?
“NBA offenses are not about the first option,” he said. He was teaching now. “It’s about the second, third and fourth options. It’s hard to get to those options without all five players working together over and over again. The continuity that comes with that leads to recognition, read and react. We choreograph things each day. It just doesn’t happen overnight. Defenses are so sophisticated you’re more than likely not going to get your first option.”
You understand the Warriors’ philosophy, right? Bring in a new player and everything changes. The learning curve gets knocked for a loop. Everyone else is on Lesson No. 50. The new guy is just cracking open the book looking for the Introduction, hasn’t even memorized Lesson One.
If your team is a loser, you take the risk of getting an important new player. If your team is going nowhere, you say, “What the heck. Let’s make a deal.” But if your team is the Warriors, you take a deep breath. You hold tight to the arms of your chair. You watch other teams in their trading frenzy. You sit and watch.
“Usually the more aggressive you are at the deadline means the more work you have to get where you want to go,” Kerr said.
The Warriors know where they want to go. To get there they did nothing.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.