Why Warriors should trade Evans to make room for Chriss

 nbcsports.com  10/12/2019 05:22:17 

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.

Steve Kerr tried to take the high road Thursday, but it didn't defuse the situation with President Donald Trump.

At 11:25 p.m. ET on Friday, President Trump fired up Twitter and took another shot at the Warriors coach.

So funny to watch Steve Kerr grovel and pander when asked a simple question about China. He chocked, and looks weak and pathetic. Dont want him at the White House!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2019

The latest tweet from President Trump continues the war of words between him and Kerr.

During a press conference Wednesday, President Trump called out Kerr and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for what he believed were weak answers on the NBA-China controversy.

A day later, Kerr spoke to reporters in San Francisco and offered a thoughtful response. He shared stories of his experiences with previous presidents and how different things are now.

I realize the horse was out of the barn a long time ago, Kerr said Thursday. But for me personally, this was my experience with, wow, has the office sunken low. My hope is that we can find a mature unifier, from either party, to sit in that chair and try to restore some dignity to the Oval Office again. And I think it will happen.

[RELATED: Trump's remarks prove sports, politics are inseparable]

The Warriors practice on Saturday, and Kerr likely will get his chance to respond to President Trump's latest tweet.

The Warriors got worse over the offseason -- that cannot be denied.

When you lose Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and DeMarcus Cousins, that's simply unavoidable. Factor in Klay Thompson's ongoing rehab from surgery to repair a torn ACL, and it's quite obvious that Golden State is positioned worse to win a championship moving forward than the Dubs have been in each of the last five seasons.

But as for how much worse, you might be surprised.

According to ESPN's NBA Future Power Rankings posted Thursday, the Warriors are ranked third among all NBA teams for projected on-court success for the next three seasons. 

In forming the rankings, ESPN's Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks rated each NBA team on five categories -- players, management, money, market and draft -- and ranked them relative to the rest of the league. Those rankings were then used to create an overall score of 0 to 100, which determined the final order. Golden State received an overall score of 70.8, sandwiched between Brooklyn (72.5) and Houston (70.2) for third in the league. The Clippers came in at No. 1 with an overall score of 87.7, and Denver (69.4) rounded out the top five.

The Warriors' score was boosted significantly by their rating in three categories. Pelton and Marks rated Golden State's players tied for sixth in the league, the Warriors' management tied for first and the Dubs' market tied for second overall. The Warriors didn't rate nearly as well in the money (t-27th) and draft (t-24th) categories.

Pelton believes Golden State will be able to contend for a championship again once Thompson returns to the lineup, and views the acquisition of D'Angelo Russell -- while limiting in the immediate -- as affording the Warriors flexibility down the line.

"Golden State aggressively pivoted by agreeing to a sign-and-trade deal to bring D'Angelo Russell from the Nets," Pelton recapped. "How Russell will fit with the core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson remains to be seen, and the move gutted the Warriors' bench this season, but they will have a window next summer to use a $17.2 million trade exception created in the Andre Iguodala deal. At worst, Russell would be valuable in a trade coming off an All-Star season at age 23."

Pelton brings up a great point. While the Warriors currently are severely limited in their roster and salary cap flexibility, that will all change when the trade exception becomes usable. With Curry, Green, Thompson and Russell signed to long-term deals, Golden State already has the core of its next contender.

[RELATED: Eclectic rookie Poole attaining early success for Warriors]

That might not come this season, but safe to say, the downfall has been overstated.

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