It'd be nice if the FO in place had a clue at that time but of course they didn't. The only way that trade is a good one is if there's a plan locked in place where the chances of flipping that trade exception for a good player is near 100%. So yeah, in theory it had the potential to be a good trade, but the aftermath of the trade was so closely intertwined with it. So it's not really two separate things. It's like trading up to draft a player for the sole purpose of flipping it for a vet. If there's no flip, it may be a horrible move. That trade is only good if the chance of losing the KG sweepstakes was really low, and it wasn't, there was no legitmate plan by the FO, they let that sucker expire and we saw a very good SG get traded for scraps. Monta Ellis wasn't a whole lot better than J Rich at that time, if at all, everyone just liked his potential and highlight layups. J Rich also played most of that We Believe playoff run while Monta sucked it up and looked in over his head. The trade sent a bad message of loyalty to the rest of the team, started the small ball Monta problem, and was one of the stupidest trades ever imo because there were so many other options they could've explored but they chose one of the riskiest. If you're trying to go from 2nd round playoff team to contender, you don't trade for some raw player who just now may
be figuring out how to play. I still think he'll be a bench player for life.
This is good post, I'll do my best to rebuttle.
Firstly, as is custom with most Dubs fans, I think you're over-valuing Richardson. This was not a Mitch Richmond type star who went on to play in multiple all-star games; this was a career 43% shooter who was losing his aggression on the drive and his explosiveness in general. Coupled by the fact that Richardson had horrendous handles for a 6'6" off-guard and didn't play consistent defense, you have to understand what he was becoming: a 16 PPG nothing-but-scorer (who wasn't even efficient in that role). Sure, you can say Monta wasn't that much better than him at the time
, but Ellis was coming off his second season already averaging 17 points on nearly 10% better than J-Rich. And after the trade, there's no comparison in whose been a better player, using hindsight bias.
Secondly, I feel you're being too categorical in terms of the trade exception. You don't need a deal-in-waiting to justify a 10 million dollar bargaining chip (even though Golden State did; first, with Garnett, second with Miller - both eventually fell through). That exception was a get-out-of-jail-free card: it could have been used to bring in Marcus Camby, it should
have netted Mike Miller, it could have gotten us Shane Battier... The list goes on and on. The bargaining chip, insofar as the VP acquired it, was useful. You can't disregard that because ownership pulled an about-face and decided to cash out those funds; that's on Cohan, not Mullin (and as we can all agree, Mullin was the one who gave a sh*t about basketball assets).
Finally, in terms of Brandan Wright: you cannot draft a project big man
whose pay-off is 5 years down the road and then condemn him as a failure by trading him in his 4th season.
Why did they do it? For several reasons:
(1) they were exposed by Utah and needed size; but they couldn't get ANY big guy, they needed a 4-5 that could run in Nelson's system. If ever there was a person who fit the bill of what Nelson advertised he wanted out of a power forward, Wright was it.
(2) they had just gotten to the playoffs after a season in which Richardson missed the majority of games played and was wholely ineffective when he DID suit up. The 2006-'07 season for J-Rich can easily be chalked up to a failure and just because he showed up in the post-season doesn't mean management wanted to roll the dice on another year of Richardson relying on his rapidly atrophying leg. If the Dubs could make the post-season in spite of him, why wouldn't management assume they could get back to the dance without him (especially with a full camp and season of the spoils they robbed Indiana of)? Harrington and Jackson made the tandem of Davis, Ellis, and Biedrins look so versatile and deep that pawning Richardson for a project that could potentially pay huge dividends (which Wright undoubtably was) seemed like a win-win.
Again, for basketball reasons at the time, this deal made a lot of sense. In the grand scheme of things, this deal didn't set the Warriors back hardly at all. But in hindsight bias? Yes, Warriors fans have the right to be upset for the trade exception expiring and Wright taking light years to develop. But to regard this trade among the worst in Warrior history? Sorry, but this wouldn't even crack my top 5.