ESPN's wild mock trade suggests Golden State Warriors take a different direction

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two
Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

With the NBA trade deadline less than two weeks away, most would assume that any move the Golden State Warriors make will be predicated on upgrading the roster for the second half of the season.

Yet that may not necessarily be the case, with the Warriors falling to a 19-23 record that may be too far to come back from. If Mike Dunleavy Jr. and the front office believe the season is gone from a championship standpoint, then the franchise may instead look at salary saving moves that open up flexibility moving forward.

Continued on-court struggles may force the Golden State Warriors to rethink their trade strategy before the February 8 deadline

That's just what ESPN's Bobby Marks has proposed in his 2024 NBA trade deadline. In analyzing Golden State's roster and cap situation, Marks suggests that the franchise move Andrew Wiggins and Cory Joseph to the Detroit Pistons for Monte Morris and Alec Burks.

On the surface this is an awful deal from a Warriors standpoint. For as poor as the Canadian has been this season, dealing him for two bench players is a direction that would shock Golden State fans. Not to mention Morris and Burks are a pair of role players in a position the franchise doesn't need to fill.

Would Morris be a third-string point-guard behind Stephen Curry and Chris Paul? That seems redundant. Burks' second stint at the Warriors would see him play very little -- would the 32-year-old play over Brandin Podziemski, Moses Moody or Gary Payton II? Unlikely.

Alec Burks
Alec Burks during his first stint with the Golden State Warriors / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

But this trade isn't about the production of Morris and Burks, nor the remainder of this season. It's about getting off the remaining three years of Wiggins' deal for two expiring contracts, while also saving the franchise millions in salary and luxury tax this season.

Making this deal would be an admission that Wiggins will never return anywhere near his best form, and that as a result his contract will be difficult to get out from moving forward. Perhaps it would also be about Golden State's desire to commit to Jonathan Kuminga with an extension during the offseason.

Still, this trade or something similar would be a hard pill to swallow for everyone in the organization, along with the fans who simply want the best product on the floor. Unless the franchise views Wiggins as addition by subtraction, this wouldn't be improving the team in the short-term.

It might actually prove the right route to take, particularly given Klay Thompson and Chris Paul are also on expiring deals. Yet punting on the remainder of this season means punting on Stephen Curry's prime, and that's a difficult proposition to contend with regardless of the situation.