A dubious rite of passage for the past decade, minus the 2007 season, the Golden State Warriors didn’t qualify for the annual postseason tournament yet again in 2011.
However, unlike other major pro sports like baseball, football and hockey that involve larger rosters, the beauty of basketball gives every team and its fans alike, hope that they are just one player away from turning a losing season into a playoff berth.
Bold moves have already begun, but a backcourt breakup is what is really needed to affect the type of winning-mojo needed for the Warriors to hop into the top eight in the conference.
It’s time to trade Monta Ellis.
Ellis and fellow starting guard Stephen Curry form an offensively explosive pair anytime they step onto the hardwood, but their defensive liabilities and lack of natural chemistry means someone needs to go.
In the case of the Bay Area’s hoops franchise that has been languishing in the basement of the West for far too long, this offseason will be highlighted in neon green a few years down the road.
A turning point from top to bottom, if you look around the organization, every level of hierarchy has endured change over the past 12 months.
New uniforms, a fresh-faced ownership group led by majority owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, and now a first-year head coach in Mark Jackson.
Jackson, a former NBA point guard who played for the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers along with a handful of other teams during his lengthy career that spanned from 1987 to 2004, was named the new Golden State head coach earlier this month.
The Jackson hire was a gamble, but one that shows the zeal for change that the new owners want to imprint on the club.
One new addition not mentioned above was the hiring of NBA legend Jerry West into the front office as a consultant to the team.
West, a former player, coach and general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers, also helped build a playoff team in Memphis during the middle half of the decade.
Now 73, West, nicknamed “The Logo” in reference to his likeness being modeled into the current NBA logo, has history of making things happen in a hurry, even if it means trading parts that some executives, fans and other players wouldn’t want to see go.
The NBA draft will be held on June 23 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The days leading up to the draft, especially draft night itself, always lead to a handful of bold moves that shape the direction of a bushel of NBA franchises.
This year, West is rumored to be shopping his prized 24.1 per game leading scorer, Ellis, to any team that will listen.
The Warriors need to use draft night to spring themselves forward, instead of leaving us scratching our heads once more.
With the No. 11 pick in the draft and Ellis as a blue chip trade piece, West has the ammo to be a major player on draft night and during the free agency period this summer.
Difference makers like Philadelphia 76ers swingman Andre Iguodala or Memphis small forward Rudy Gay are on the trade market. So are the No. 2 and No. 4 picks in the draft held by Minnesota and Cleveland.
Top five picks aren’t easily acquired, but guards like Ellis don’t grow on trees either.
Besides the top two players in the 2011 draft, which are expected to be Duke guard Kyrie Irving and University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams, the rest of the bunch is a mixed bag of unpolished prospects that could turn into gems or a lump of coal.
The Warriors know all about the top-10 pick misses - see Patrick O’Bryant, Brandan Wright (acquired via trade from the Charlotte Bobcats for Jason Richardson) and Ike Diogu.
Go get some length on the perimeter, bolster the paint and hand the keys of the car to Curry.
The past two NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers and this year's surprise winner in Dallas, both have aging rosters stocked with veterans. Golden State can pull itself into the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzles “Who’s Next” conversation if they play their cards right.
It’s in The Logo's hands now.