Warriors Trade Exception Tournament Finals: Andre Iguodala, Domantas Sabonis, Marcus Smart, Robert Covington

You make the decision.

The 2020 Warriors Trade Exception

The Trade Exception technically expires on July 7. However, Anthony Slater writes:

Everybody I’ve chatted with about the subject said they’d expect the new expiration date to land a day or two after the free-agent moratorium, even if it’s in September, since that’s where it was initially planted, for strategic purposes. Which brings us to the next question.

This trade exception was created in the Andre Iguodala trade to the Memphis Grizzlies, and is worth $17.2 million. It’s fair to say that I am no expert at how to use it. Here’s Larry Coon’s FAQ about it. But roughly speaking,

  • it needs to be used to acquire players under contract (technically there could be a sign-and-trade, but the Warriors want no part of that again after this year’s experience);

  • it can’t be combined with other exceptions or players to make it bigger;

  • it can most simply used to acquire a single player (and while there seem to be technical ways to acquire more than one, I don’t understand exactly how)

So we’re looking for players under contract for less than $17.2m, and which teams might trade to the Warriors for (possibly extremely protected) draft picks.

Local writers have come up with some excellent ideas for possible targets:

It’s time to settle this, tournament style. I’ve combined all the ideas from the local writers and added two of my own, to make a list of 16 possible targets. I broke them into four groups for a Group Stage, and the winners of each group will have a final showdown. The groups have been determined by straight alphabetical order.

Group A results

Our full write-up and scouting report.

  • 45% Andre Iguodala

  • 26% Danny Green

  • 21% Dennis Schroder

  • 7% Cody Zeller

Andre Iguodala took a plurality of the vote (Twitter votes + 10 x LGW comment votes) and coasts into the Final Round. I was surprised that sentiment didn’t drive his victory to greater heights. I guess everyone is rightfully wary of his age.

Group B results

Our full write-up and scouting report.

  • 65% Domantas Sabonis

  • 27% Josh Richardson

  • 7% Evan Fournier

  • 1% Dewayne Dedmon

Sabonis easily takes the group and advances to the final.

Group C results

Our full write-up and scouting report.

  • 46% Marcus Smart

  • 37% Kelly Oubre

  • 11% Ricky Rubio

  • 6% Kelly Olynyk

Group D results

Our full write-up and scouting report.

  • 59% Robert Covington

  • 18% Will Barton

  • 14% Rudy Gay

  • 10% Thaddeus Young

Your Finalists

  • Andre Iguodala

  • Domantas Sabonis

  • Marcus Smart

  • Robert Covington

Here are the brief scouting reports of the finalists.

Andre Iguodala

  • 6'6" FORWARD, 36.3 YEARS OLD

  • 2020-21: $15,000,000

Andre Iguodala turns 37 next season. He once had the IQ and game to make the Warriors machine hum and complement the Splash Brothers. He is the known quantity except for the big question of decline. 

Overall, Andre’s effect was once above average on both offense and defense, but he has declined into being a negative on offensive shooting on-court, offset by his playmaking continuing to lead to lots of free throws.

Stats show he is at the top of the playmaking low-usage forwards, with decent finishing and an erratic jumper.

His jumper was once a little above average but has fallen off a cliff since 2017, from all ranges.

His defense still seems to be holding up, with elite on-ball steal and block percentages. that’s ignoring the small sample of Miami… but should we really ignore it?

Domantas Sabonis

  • 6'11" BIG, 24.0 YEARS OLD

  • 2020-21: $17,187,500

Previously known as part of Russell Westbrook’s Help So Poor That We Give Russ an MVP For Even Tolerating Their Sorry Asses On His Court, he and Victor Oladipo were dumped off to the Indiana Pacers, and both immediately showed that when allowed oxygen and a fair chance to touch the ball, they were pretty excellent players.

I mean look at him bloom from a nothingburger into a high-usage, excellent passer and decent scorer. 

He is mildly positive on offense and very good on defense.

When allowed to touch the ball, he flashed an above average midrange jumper (no range to 3 though). His finishing seems average, though up and down statistically.

His block and steal rate is actually quite poor. But he shows excellent rebounding once he didn’t have to tithe over all his rebounds to the Church of Westbrook’s Triple Doubles. (LOL at the Defensive Rebound Rate in OKC, fgDR% and most incriminating, defensive rebounds on free throws, ftDR%. I mean, come on.)

Marcus Smart

  • 6'4" COMBO, 26.2 YEARS OLD

  • 2020-21: $13,446,428

A bulldog on defense. Involved in weird plays but a reputation as a winner. Plays above his size, somewhat like a smaller Draymond. 

His on-off stats don’t live up to the billing. His defensive effect is about average (with him on the court, the team gets lots more turnovers) and his offensive effect is below average (shooting and efficiency decline). The net effect is just about neutral.

Last season, Smart put it all together and was a medium-usage, efficient scorer (in sharp contrast to past years) while maintaining his track record as an absolutely top assist man (and turnover man). This season, his numbers are down all over the board except for his turnovers improving a lot. What to make of this change?

He consistently rates as a terrible finisher and jump shooter, except for the glorious 2018-19 season we’ve mentioned.

On the flip side, he consistently ranks at the top of steal rates and is above average at blocks for a guard. He is even an above-average pest on the offensive boards. 

Robert Covington

  • 6'9" FORWARD, 29.4 YEARS OLD

  • 2020-21. $12,138,345

I don’t think the Rockets would trade him in a million years normally, but if their owner Tilman Fertitta goes bankrupt, that might put everything on the table. Most recently, Warriors fans were begging management to trade D’Angelo Russell for Covington.

He’s been a darling of advanced stats for years. He profiles mainly as a tall defensive stopper who can hit threes, and his total on-offs consistently are near the top of the league, though his offensive impact has varied all over the place.

Medium-usage, he scoring has mostly been above-average and his assist numbers scrape the very bottom of the league. Black hole city. In HOU, he seems to have reduced turnovers, but I’m guessing that the Harden Low-Touches Diet — can’t turn it over if you don’t have it! — will do that to many players.

These stats should confirm all your preconceptions of him as a decent 3 point shooter with not much other scoring efficiency:

And these will confirm his reputation as a defensive terror, with elite blocking, stealing and defensive rebounding. He fouls a bit too much.


The Final Vote

The question that will be put forward to you is simply: which of these players should the Warriors most want to acquire for the trade exception?

Let’s ignore details of whether to throw in certain draft picks or whether their contracts are worth it or whether their team would even want to trade them. These are unknowable. The Warriors championship window is closing, and the time to win is now.