It was always difficult to believe the Warriors were a legitimate destination for Dwight Howard. That's no knock on the Warriors or the Bay Area's attraction to free agents. It just seems like there was only one destination for Howard and that was Houston.
Howard never appeared like he enjoyed playing in Los Angeles or with Kobe Bryant. Despite what Howard says, when Kobe's pitch during the meeting with the Lakers was something along the lines of "stick around so I can teach you how to play," it's possible that sealed Howard's departure. The opportunity to make nearly the same amount in Houston (because of taxes) as the Lakers could offer made the Rockets the favored destination for Howard.
Despite Howard's baggage -- which is considerable -- if the Warriors had been able to land him it certainly would have been exciting, especially if the team had done it through clearing cap space the way they did to sign Andre Iguodala instead of a sign-and-trade that would have cost Golden State the future potential of Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson.
As for what the Warriors actually did, the acquisition of Andre Iguodala was certainly a splashy, exciting move, but there are legitimate concerns about roster fit and age.
Who comes off the bench?
There is no easy distribution of starting positions or playing time in the Warriors' immediate future. One of the following four players will need to come off the bench for the team -- Iguodala, Thompson, Barnes or David Lee.
Bringing Lee off the bench makes some sense as he is the worst defender and has the least upside of the group. The corresponding move of starting Barnes at power forward, though, isn't a perfect solution. Barnes played well there in stretches during the playoffs last season, but that was mostly during the series against Denver. The Nuggets were a team against which Barnes matched up well at power forward because they employed undersized power forwards (Kenneth Faried and Anthony Randolph). Barnes would likely struggle to succeed in a consistent role in the post because the West is full of power forwards both big and tall (Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Zach Randolph).
The other potential move, bringing either Barnes or Thompson off the bench, doesn't make sense. Why stunt their growth? Thompson and Barnes are both talented young players who deserve an increase, not a reduction in minutes this coming season.
There are some minutes to go around with Jarrett Jack gone, but Iguodala is not a capable replacement for Jack's role as backup point guard. Iguodala is a nice playmaker and can certainly slide over to point forward now and then, but you don't necessarily want him running the team.
Age, athleticism don't mix
Iguodala's age is also a concern. He is a very good player -- great defender, nice playmaker, a slasher/scorer with a mediocre outside shot -- whose game is built around uncommon athleticism.
In many ways, Iguodala is reminiscent of Gerald Wallace, another ultra-athletic player, though Iguodala clearly has better court vision and passing ability. NBA players often start to lose their athleticism after they turn 30 and it's not usually a gradual decline, it's often immediate and dramatic (see Darryl Dawkins, Connie Hawkins, Shawn Kemp, Tracy McGrady, Baron Davis and Metta World Peace).
Iguodala turns 30 in January. Wallace turned 30 last July.
Here are the stats for Iguodala the past three seasons (at ages 27, 28 and 29):
2010-11: 14.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.5 steals, percentages (.445 on field goals, .337 on 3-pointers, .693 on free throws), 36.9 minutes
2011-12: 12.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.7 steals, percentages (.454, .394, .617), 35.6 minutes
2012-13: 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.7 steals, percentages (.451, .317, .574), 34.7 minutes
Here are the stats for Wallace the three seasons before last (when he was 27, 28 and 29):
2009-10: 18.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.5 steals, percentages (.484, .371, .776), 41.0 minutes
2010-11: 15.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals, percentages (.454, .333, .746), 37.9 minutes
2011-12: 13.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, percentages (.454, .307, .800), 35.8 minutes
Now look what happened to Wallace last season when his athleticism started to slip after he turned 30:
2012-13: 7.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals, percentages (.397, .282, .637), 30.1 minutes
Declining athleticism wasn't the only reason for Wallace's decline. He also was reportedly unhappy about his role with the Nets. But the main culprit was that Wallace lost more than a step, which impacted every part of his game.
A year ago, Wallace, about to turn 30, was signed to a four-year, $40 million contract. Today, it looks like a terrible investment.
This offseason, the Warriors will sign Iguodala, about to turn 30, to a reported four-year, $48 million contract. One or two years from now, will it look like a questionable investment? It's a legitimate question.
Surrendering value in draft
There was risk to the Warriors' moves to clear cap space as well. In order to entice Utah to take on the large contracts of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson (both deals will expire after this season), the Warriors traded away first-round draft picks in 2014 and 2017. That's a hard pill to swallow.
Next year's draft is projected as the best draft since LeBron and Dwyane Wade stole the show in 2003. Granted, it's likely the Warriors will be good next season and that the pick they gave up will be a low-value pick in the 20s. However, what if Curry gets hurt? What if Andrew Bogut gets hurt? What if Iguodala regresses sooner than expected? What if Barnes has a sophomore slump? Any combination of those possible outcomes could land the Warriors back in the lottery.
If that happens, giving up their 2014 draft selection could really hurt.
In addition, the Warriors gave up a 2017 draft pick. That's four years from now, an eternity in the NBA. Who knows if the Warriors will be a playoff team or a lottery team by then?
The Warriors may have been better off re-signing Jack, bringing back Carl Landry providing he wasn't too expensive (their signing of Marreesse Speights proves there were value replacements for Landry), and continuing to build around a core of Curry, Thompson, Barnes and Bogut with all their future first-round draft picks in hand.
You can reach Press Democrat Assistant Sports Editor Jared Cowley at firstname.lastname@example.org.