The Warriors made the first big trade of the 2008/’09 NBA season this week, sending forward Al Harrington to the New York Knicks for guard Jamal Crawford. The trade makes sense for both teams: the Knicks shed salary in anticipation of the monster free agent class of 2010 and the Warriors move head coach Don Nelson one step closer to fulfilling his dream of a starting lineup consisting of 5 shooting guards.
In his 2 years with the Warriors, Harrington was consistent only in his inconsistency. When his jumpshot was on he was a valuable member of the small lineups Nellie prefers. When it wasn’t his relative weakness in defense and rebounding become that much more apparent, and he often became a net minus on the floor for the Warriors.
Harrington clearly had to go: like many of Nellie’s players before him, he grew tired of playing out of position and banging with bigger guys every night (that’s what she said) and wanted a change of scenery. To make this happen, he faked an injury with such enthusiasm that Vince Carter sent him a text congratulating him on his fine work.
So, given that the Warriors weren’t exactly dealing from a position of strength with their player refusing to play and demanding a trade, and that Harrington doesn’t have a ton of value around the league even in normal circumstances, did they make the best trade they could?
Reports out of Chicago say that the Warriors and Bulls were set to finalize a deal exchanging Harrington for Kirk Hinrich before Hinrich tore a tendon in his thumb and went on the shelf for at least 3 months. Hinrich would have been a good fit in some ways: the Warriors don’t have a traditional point guard on the roster and anything that takes the ball out of Stephen Jackson’s hands on occasion and prevents him from making horrific decisions is a good thing. On the other hand, Hinrich has a big contract and a Hinrich/ Monta Ellis backcourt is similar enough to the failed Hinrich/ Gordon Bulls backcourt that essentially recreating it would have been questionable.