Philadelphia, PA – With the March 15 trade deadline rapidly approaching, most of the speculation in the NBA is going to center around stars who may be changing addresses, players like Orlando's Dwight Howard and Boston's Rajon Rondo.
That said, if you are looking for the team most likely to reshape its roster a bit come mid-March, focus on the Bay Area.
The Golden State Warriors brought Mark Jackson in to change the culture of a franchise still in the shadow of a Don Nelson regime. Jackson, of course, made his bones in the NBA with the New York Knicks and is used to tough-minded defensive basketball.
Golden State, a franchise that has traditionally been built around high-octane offense, simply doesn't have enough players who think defense first and the organization needs to start collecting more players who fit Jackson's style.
Just about everyone is on the trading block in Oakland, even third-year guard Stephen Curry, a well-rounded player who probably can't bring back fair market value due to injury concerns.
The Warriors would love to move one of their highly paid big man, either Andris Biedrins or David Lee, a couple of players who aren't going to conjure up memories of Patrick Ewing or Charles Oakley in the paint.
Lee, however, is signed for big money through 2015-16 and Biedrins is owed $9 million per year until 2013-14. Each has skill, but simply aren't the kind of intimidators who will make you think twice about driving into the lane.
Monta Ellis, meanwhile, is the most likely to go. One of the best pure scorers in the NBA, Ellis can fill it up like few others, but he's also far too concerned about doing exactly that, often ignoring the other side of the floor.
Jackson's Warriors arrived in Philadelphia last Friday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. It was a bit ironic since the Sixers hadn't scored 100 as a team in over a month -- 19 straight games.
Evidently all Philadelphia needed to shake its offensive doldrums was a date with Golden State. The Sixers broke open a close game in the third quarter and Lou Williams scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Sixers disposed of the Warriors, 105-83.
"They got whatever they wanted," Jackson said when talking about the third. "We didn't come out of the locker room with the right mindset. They jumped on us and took total control of the basketball game."
Now Philadelphia is a good, not a great basketball team but the big dogs of the NBA have given the rest of the league a blueprint in how to beat the Sixers over the past month.
The 76ers are extremely athletic, but if you keep them from getting out in transition, they bog down in the half-court and often settle for jumpers by below-average shooters.
It's more than likely Jackson drummed that game plan into his charges and was disillusioned and downright angry after he watched his team give up 55 points in the second half to such a limited offensive club.
Asked if he was happy with his team's effort, the former All-Star point guard was succinct.
"No," he said. "We didn't respond, 25 points in (each of) the first three quarters, 30 points in the last quarter. That's not the defense that we play. Disappointing effort once again."
That is where I'll take exception with Jackson. Actually, it's exactly the type of defense Golden State plays, at least too often. He should have said, "That's not the type of defense we want to play."
Golden State is missing a nasty player like Ewing or Oakley and Jackson alluded to it.
"We have to be aggressive, we have to play with force," the coach said. "Especially on the road, you have to do the things you are supposed to do to win. There is a way to lose and this is not the way."
You don't have to be a mind reader to understand Jackson was criticizing his charges for being soft. His club was punched in the mouth and stayed on the canvas instead of staggering to its feet and fighting back.
Right now, it's looks like the Warriors only have three or four Mark Jackson- type players.
Curry is versatile enough to play the point or two guard and excel at either while young forward Ekpe Udoh has the length and athleticism to turn into a solid interior defender. Meanwhile, it's also too early to give up on rookie sharpshooter Klay Thompson and Lee, although not an intimidator, is a plus- rebounder who can give you a double-double virtually very night.
Those are the pieces Golden State should be building around.
"We are not good enough to turn it on and off," Jackson said of his team. "That's not who we are. We are not good enough to turn it on and off. We have to be on all the time. That doesn't mean we are going to make shots."
True enough. Two days after laying a defensive egg in South Philly, the Warriors amped things up on defense but were outscored 22-11 during the third quarter of a 83-75 setback in Toronto.
It was the lowest-scoring quarter this season for the Warriors, who also set a season-low in total points. Indeed, the Raptors only needed to shoot 37.2 percent from the floor in the win.
"Four games in a row we've had bad third quarters. We knew that coming in and talked about it at halftime," Jackson said. "We were thoroughly outplayed. We did nothing offensively and then you have to keep fighting back in the fourth quarter and you can't keep doing that. It was a bad loss."
As the frustration continues to build in Jackson, so does the likelihood that Golden State will do something significant on deadline day with Ellis remaining the most likely carrot.
Already the high-scoring guard has been lined to rumors with Joe Johnson in Atlanta, Andre Iguodala in Philadelphia and even Rondo in Boston, which tells you all you need to know about the philosophy behind any potential move.
Jackson is more than willing to give up scoring to provide a much-needed attitude adjustment.