Trade Review: Warriors have failed to yield full value from controversial 4-team trade

Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves
Golden State Warriors v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

Less than two years ago the Golden State Warriors won an NBA championship, yet they now sit on the precipice of missing the playoffs entirely after a disappointing 23-24 season. Given much of the core remains intact from that title team, where has it exactly gone wrong for the franchise?

The simple answer is to state that players have regressed -- veterans Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are no longer who they were, and perhaps more surprisingly, Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney are also in that boat despite still being in their late twenties. Another player who isn't quite having the same impact is Gary Payton II -- the defensive-minded guard who left the Warriors only to return via trade just over six months later.

Did the Golden State Warriors make the right decision moving James Wiseman for Gary Payton II at last season's trade deadline?

Golden State traded their former number two overall pick James Wiseman in a four-team deal at last February's deadline, with the franchise re-acquiring Payton after he appeared in just 15 games for the Portland Trail Blazers.

The deal was shrouded in controversy given Portland's handling of Payton's injury, but the Warriors chose to complete it rather than veto. Moving on from Wiseman has turned out to be the right move, but could the franchise have yielded more from the trade?

When Golden State re-acquired Payton, many would have expected that the team were getting the same player from the 2021-22 championship season. Unfortunately that hasn't been the case, with injury issues limiting the 31-year-old from providing a similar level of impact.

Gary Payton II, Wendell Carter Jr.
Golden State Warriors v Orlando Magic / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Payton can still have his moments of game-changing impact, but his numbers are still far below what he produced two seasons ago. He's playing about two minutes less per game, leading to a reduction in scoring (7.1 to 5.1) and rebounding (3.5 to 2.6).

Payton's value has always lay upon his defensive ability, yet that too has seen a subtle but significant drop. His steals have decreased from 1.4 to 0.9 per game, while more advanced metrics like defensive win shares (2.6 to 0.8) and defensive box plus-minus (3.4 to 2.4) have also reduced.

After playing 71 regular season games in the 2021-22 season, Payton has played in just over half (39) of Golden State's 74 games this season. While he's a fan-favorite still capable of moments of defensive brilliance, Payton probably hasn't delivered on what the franchise had hoped when the trade was made.

The likes of Wiggins, Thompson and Looney may be garnering the headlines for a downturn in form this season, Payton is another who's decline from two seasons ago has attributed to the Warriors' current standing. Assuming he picks up his $9.1 million player option for next season, Payton will still have an opportunity to repay the faith the franchise showed in him nearly 14 months ago.