July 13, 2021

6 Warriors Trades That'll Make Golden State NBA Championship Contenders Again

The Warriors have a good problem on their hands. With an aging yet still supremely talented core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, Golden State is rightfully in win-now mode. 

The issue? Well, all of their juicy assets — including the 20-year-old James Wiseman and the Nos. 7 and 14 picks in the 2021 NBA Draft —  scream long-term potential. In their current state, the Warriors don’t need help years into the future; they need immediate reinforcements.

The Warriors have a track with two trains travelling in the exact opposite direction, and they’re clearly focused on getting Curry and Co. another legitimate chance at a ring. The most obvious — and really the only — way to trade for meaningful help is to use Wiseman and those lottery selections as trade bait.

This summer is set up to be one massive roller coaster with multiple stars potentially forcing their way out of town. Golden State is in prime position to pounce, but they need to be smart with their precious assets.

Here are five potential Warriors trades that could turn Golden State back into championship contenders. 

Trade 1: Bradley Beal to the Warriors

The Trade: James Wiseman, Andrew Wiggins, No. 7 Pick for Bradley Beal

Trading for Bradley Beal is the dream scenario for virtually every team with the right assets. We're looking at you, 76ers. If the Warriors pull this deal off, it’s definitely the most exciting destination for Beal. 

If the Warriors were to trade for Beal, they’d be receiving one of the best shot creators in the league. Beal averaged 31.3 points this past season, second only to ... Chef Curry. As someone who can score at all three levels of the floor, Beal is a perfect fit for any team, but he’d be an incredible addition to Golden State’s core because of the existing shooting.

When Thompson returns to the court, it’s widely assumed he’ll become more of a small forward because of how the game has downsized, which leaves the shooting guard position wide open. Beal is a classic two-guard thanks to his sweet-shooting capabilities, making him a clean fit.

And while positional designations are less important than ever, having a clean fit certainly doesn’t hurt. And don’t look at Beal’s average three-point shooting percentage and think he’s not a great shooter. He sports a smooth release and shot 39% on catch-and-shoot three-pointers. But as the lead ball handler on a thin Wizards squad, Beal rarely had that luxury and usually had to hoist difficult, contested shots.

Curry, Beal, Thompson and Green surrounded by your grandmother would have a shot at title contention. Can the Warriors pull it off? We’ll have to wait to find out.

Trade 2: Pascal Siakam to the Warriors

The Trade: James Wiseman, Andrew Wiggins, No. 14 Pick for Pascal Siakam

Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is never afraid to take a bold risk. From trading for Kawhi Leonard to NOT dealing Kyle Lowry, he truly doesn’t care what the world thinks of his decisions, and he’s usually correct.

By all accounts, Siakam and Ujiri have a very close relationship that dates, but the Raptors big man struggled this season, sporting a 49% effective field-goal rate, struggled in clutch situations and he was issued a fine for cursing at coach Nick Nurse. 

Ujiri is probably looking at his squad and noticing that there’s not enough, and Siakam’s trade value is at the highest it will probably ever be as the lead option. If he’s traded to the Warriors, he’d form one of the toughest, longest frontcourts in the league with Green. That would be an incredible defensive pairing, and Green’s playmaking could accentuate Siakam’s offensive strengths by helping simplify the game for the 27-year-old.

Golden State would have a core four of Curry, Thompson, Siakam and Green while also allowing the Warriors to retain their juicy No. 7 pick courtesy of the Timberwolves. The Raptors are in desperate need of a center, and Wiseman has the potential to become a really good one.

Trade 3: Ben Simmons to the Warriors

The Trade: Ben Simmons to the Warriors; Kyle Lowry, No. 7 Pick to the 76ers; Wiseman, Wiggins to the Raptors

We discussed the idea of a Simmons to the Warriors deal last week, but Philly may not be the biggest Kemba Walker fans, so let’s discuss this fascinating potential deal, which would have multiple moving parts.

This fun trade would require Toronto to sign-and-trade Lowry to the 76ers at a price that is probably higher than his worth. Nabbing a battle-tested guard and a high draft pick for someone who wouldn’t take a jump shot in the playoffs is still a solid return. Even if it may not be Daryl Morey’s Final Destination dream of trading for Damian Lillard, Beal or Zach LaVine.

Lowry may be getting up there in age, but he’s still a quality three-point marksman who can run a team and isn’t afraid to take the big shot. He’s a bulldozer as a defender who can guard multiple positions and isn’t easily bullied in the post. He’s also great at drawing charges, which is one of the most underrated moves in the game. He may not be Morey’s Plan A, B, C or D, but he’s a nice Plan E.

The Raptors would probably be thrilled with this deal. By finally saying goodbye to their aging legend in Lowry, they bring in Wiggins, who is Canadian, and Wiseman, whose potential tantalizes as a new age center.

The Warriors are the big winners in this deal if Simmons can break past whatever barrier is stopping from becoming a more productive player in crunch time. Here’s what we wrote about a Simmons fit on the Warriors last week:

Add Simmons to the Warriors’ dynamic, and things become scary. With Green and Steve Kerr in his ear, Simmons has a great shot to succeed. He’ll also be dealing with acres of space next to the Splash Brothers and Jordan Poole, who took a big step forward in his development at the tail end of the season. 

Simmons is best served as someone who fulfills all of Green’s responsibilities on both ends of the floor. Green is Golden State’s backbone on defense who can guard every position on the court except for quick guards. He’s also the connector of their offense as someone who can serve as a traditional point guard or a secondary facilitator coming off Curry pick-and-rolls.

Simmons has the potential to be a better version of Green. His incredible length and athleticism allow him to guard all five positions on the court, and he’s a very talented passer:

Playing next to Green could create spacing issues, but they wouldn’t be any worse than when Kevon Looney is on the floor. Even if Simmons never develops a three-point shot, he can transform the Warriors into an even bigger threat thanks to his other skill sets. 

Trade 4: Zach LaVine to the Warriors

The Trade: Wiseman, Wiggins, No. 7 Pick for Zach LaVine

If Golden State can nab one of Beal or LaVine, it will be a successful offseason.

Just like Beal, LaVine is set to become an unrestricted free agent after next season. The thought of potentially losing LaVine for nothing has to haunt Bulls executives.

LaVine was superb this season, averaging 27.4 points, five rebounds and five assists on 51/42/85 shooting splits. He cooked dudes in isolation and had unlimited range, which makes him an excellent fit next to the Splash Brothers.

The Bulls have some intriguing young players in Patrick Williams and Coby White, so adding to that core is a huge plus. Trading for Nikola Vucevic was a shortsighted move, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a handful of suitors for Big Vooch if the Bulls decide to put him on the market again if they acquire Wiseman.

LaVine meanwhile is the ideal guard to pair with Curry as the former MVP ages gracefully. The UCLA alum also thrives in transition, averaging 1.24 points per possession, which is a very important aspect of the Warriors’ identity. There was nothing more frightening for opposing teams in years past as Curry pushed the ball up the floor and found Thompson for a wide-open three. LaVine can help recreate that feeling as Thompson gets back into playing shape after missing the last two seasons due to injury.

Finally, LaVine is also very capable of taking the reins while Curry rests, which historically has been an issue for the Warriors even during their Death Star days.

Trade 5: Damian Lillard to the Warriors

The Trade: Wiseman, Wiggins, Nos. 7, 14 Picks, 2022 First-Round Pick for Lillard

We wrote about a potential Lillard to the Warriors deal last week, but the Warriors will almost definitely need to include more assets in order to get a deal done. Three juicy first-round picks, a young center full of upside and a rock-solid two-way wing is a very fair price to pay for Lillard’s services.

If the Warriors actually pull this off, look out. Lillard may have some overlapping skills with Curry, but every team in the league would be thrilled to have those two as their starting backcourt. 

Having Lillard and Curry on the same squad would allow Steve Kerr to always have one superstar facilitator on the floor at all times. Pair them with Thompson and you have the greatest shooting team ever assembled. Teams would have a fit trying to contain both Lillard and Curry seeing as most squads barely have one defender good enough to contain an elite shot creator. 

If an opponent manages to stop both Curry and Lillard, then an open Thompson three-pointer or a Green three-on-two situation is waiting for them. There would be no stopping this team, and while the defense would be a concern, Thompson, Green and Looney are all good defenders while Lillard and Curry are better than their reputations suggest.

This is probably the most intriguing potential trade of the offseason that has a non-zero percent chance of happening. Lillard reportedly could be on his way out this offseason, and the Warriors would provide him a championship-ready roster.

Meanwhile, the Blazers would receive tons of picks and a valuable prospect in Wiseman. At this point, just do the damn deal, guys.

Trade 6: Warriors Trade Up in 2021 NBA Draft

The Trade: Wiseman, No. 14 pick for No. 4 pick

If the Warriors are unable to cobble together a package and strike a deal for one of the league’s stars, turning to the draft is a pretty good consolation prize. 

If they’re hellbent on trading Wiseman while improving their draft position, the Raptors could be a potential dance partner. We’ve already discussed how much Toronto needs a center (Alex Len and Aron Baynes were disasters, while Chris Boucher can’t take a beating all season), and now is their chance to acquire a potential future star.

Wiseman has potential as a pick-and-roll fiend who can dribble and score the ball like a wing. The Raptors love lengthy prospects and are also getting the 14th pick, which should yield a quality starter thanks to the Raptors’ strong scouting department.

The Warriors would make this deal to have the chance at Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes or Jonathan Kuminga. Suggs' best-case scenario is a Jason Kidd-type guard who can play off Curry and run the offense while he rests. Barnes and Kuminga fall into the athletic-wing category who has the physical tools to become a massive problem on both ends of the floor.

Golden State’s Big 3 are all 31-years-old or older. They’re in full on win-now mode, and will likely trade their pile of assets for an immediate upgrade. But that doesn’t mean they can’t meaningfully improve this offseason if they elect to use their draft picks.

Buckle up, because this offseason is about to be a wild ride.

Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration