The Warriors May Look to Fill the Void At Center Through Free Agency

It’s apparent that nobody knows what Bob Myers intends to do with the #2 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. All we know is he has a ton of assets at his disposal if he wants to re-bolster the team’s frontcourt this upcoming season. Which they should do. But how?

The Warriors are lacking a true shot blocker in the paint. In fact, they’re lacking a true 7-footer on their roster. Alen Smailagic, is currently the tallest player on the team (6′ 10″), and has only competed in 14 games for the Warriors. Marquese Chriss, who started 21 games last season, lacks size at 6′ 9″ and has was limited against elite centers last season. With that being said, Chriss will still be a crucial rotational piece for the Warriors, but he isn’t a guy the Warriors want to matchup against Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic for 30+ minutes per game once the playoffs roll around.

Anthony Slater had this to say on the latest edition of the Warriors Plus-Minus podcast.

“If they watched the west playoffs, they better know that they need another center. Particularly, a big center who can bang with other big centers because they don’t currently have that”.

He is absolutely right. The Warriors do need to add size, muscle, and athleticism to their frontcourt if they want to have a shot against AD, and Jokic. But the question of how the Warriors plan to do it still isn’t specified. They can fill that need through the draft with potentially James Wiseman, they could utilize the $17.2MM trade exemption before it expires, or they could do what they’ve done in the past and fill that need through free agency.

Here are a couple of thoughts on each of those scenarios:

Drafting Wiseman #2 Overall

The decision likely will be impacted by the NBA’s unpredicted salary cap next season. Golden State is already over the luxury tax and could be disinclined to jump the gun on a rotational piece.  James Wiseman is an intriguing prospect who could propel the Warriors to new heights. But drafting him at #2 would instantly make him the 5th highest paid player on the team. Which is a big investment on a player who only competed in 3 collegiate games. Especially for a team with a narrow championship window and high expectations heading into 2021. 

Utilizing the $17.2MM TPE

There have also been reports that Golden State may elect to let the $17.2MM trade exemption expire unless they’re approached with a “special opportunity”. If that’s the case, I don’t see the Warriors making a move because the trade market is so unpredictable right now. We don’t know what the salary cap situation will look like next season, the amount of games each team will play, or if fans will be allowed back into arenas next season. All of these factors play a vital role in the Warriors ability to scope the trade market. But, don’t count the Warriors aggressive front office out if someone talented becomes available.

Utilizing Free Agency

Honestly, I think this will be the route the Warriors will take to find frontcourt depth. The center free agent class is deep this offseason and I predict the Warriors will try to sign a proven veteran to the MLE. Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, and Dwight Howard are all considered to be on the Warriors radar this offseason. They would save the Warriors money, and the resources needed to fill some of the other gaps on their roster. The Warriors have proven in the past that they don’t need a big name center to win championships. I fully expect them to have the same mentality heading into the draft and free agency.

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