Warriors’ Size Trade Speculations

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Updated: December 3, 2021
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The Warriors have been the central hub of trade talks since the offseason due to their newly acquired arsenal of young players at the end of the bench. It is a rare occurrence in NBA history where a true title contender takes a two-year hiatus due to injuries and then returns with its same core pieces, along with the assets collected in their poor seasons without Klay Thompson. After their recent loss against the Suns where their lack of size has so transparently been exposed, namely, their below-average starting center Kevon Looney, again the questions are being asked if they will cash in their chips for an upgrade in the frontcourt.

However, ownership has been quite clear that they do not only value their new toys in Wisemen and Kuminga, but they have also stated they have zero interest in parting with them. It could just be effective posturing boosting their trade stock in preparation for shopping them on the open market, but from the tone used by Joe Lacob in recent interviews, it appears these sentiments about these young bigs long-term future in Golden State is an honest one.

Because of the upside and high ceiling of 7’1 Wisemen and high flying forward Jonathan Kuminga, the focus usually is drawn towards what they could be moved for, however, the Warriors do have options to trade for even if they decide to keep these young players.

The Lakers, Clippers, Bucks, Nets, and Heat have traded away the majority of available draft capital in order to maximize their current rosters as title contenders. The Warriors have 3 first-round draft picks available to move, along with a small collection of 2nds that they could attach to Looney and their minimum contracts without having to trade their rookies or any of their core roster pieces. With how good Jordan Poole looks, there will most likely be push back from certain sectors of the front office not to dump their future draft selections, however, title windows are delicate opportunities that should not be taken lightly. The potential of a late first-round pick years down the road panning out to be a decent player should not be something that stops the front office from arming their roster with an adequate big to slow down the Joker, AD, Gobert, and Ayton. Below are two possible trades that arguably could be done as a tandem to finalize the roster.

New York

Mitchell Robinson is a unique and interesting asset since he was not given his extension in the offseason. His on-court value obviously exceeds his current 1.8-million-dollar contract, and yet due to constant injuries and less than impressive numbers, the Knicks are willing to test restricted free agency. Robinson missed most of last season and the start of this one and although he is their starting center, Thibodeau infamously has a better second unit which sports veteran center Nerlens Noel. They also have their young lottery selection Obi Toppin who can play the small ball 5. Robinson is an enormous human being at a proper 7 foot with size and yet has never averaged double-digit scoring in his career. Another team will likely be willing to pay him 8-12 million as a flyer on his potential and New York lets him walk.

If the Knicks look like a solid playoff team coming into the deadline, they most likely would not entertain this type of exchange for draft capital. However, if they are struggling and are down in the 7-9 seed range by February, the front office might be interested in getting a 1st and a pair of 2nds for the once 2nd round pick in the draft. With their new additions in the backcourt of Kemba and Fournier that have not panned out, they could use more draft capital to attach to those two contracts for the next available disgruntled star.

Also, Juan Toscano Anderson, a guy with a high motor and a plus defender is exactly a Thibs type of player. (An additional pick, their 2028 could be added, although two 1st for Robinson would be quite a steep price).

Golden State

One of the biggest reasons bigs get hurt is fatigue and the recklessness their large bodies adopt once they become exhausted. With Wisemen and Draymond in the rotation at the 5, ideally, Robinson’s minutes would dip below 20 minutes a game allowing him to give full effort in a smaller role than what has been expected of him in New York. Although not as dynamic as an Ayton or Davis, he is a physical force and is bigger and meaner than those two finesse bigs. The idea would be, in the select matchups where the Warriors are usually undersized, they would start Robinson with the intention of putting wear and tear on the opposing big and hopefully tallying up a handful of fouls by feeding him inside. With the type of looks Looney gets in the Golden State system, Robinson likely will average the easiest 10 points in the league even if only playing 18-20 minutes a game.

Trade 2  

Houston

Probably not the best week to create Houston trade pieces since they are on their first winning streak of the season, however, most likely by the deadline they will still be the worst team in the West. Daniel Theis was a nice pickup for the Rockets in the offseason, yet the reason they were able to outbid other franchises is the duration of the contract they gave him. With Looney coming off the books next year and most likely could be retained on a vet minimum, and Bjelica stretching the floor and facilitating on a cheap deal, they would acquire draft capital, while still having frontcourt depth behind their developing young big in Christian Wood. Houston also expressed interest in Looney before he resigned with Golden State a few years back.

Golden State

Looney at 5 million is the only substantial contract the Warriors have outside of their large salaries in Curry, Thompson, Draymond, and Wiggins. He is also arguably is the worst offensive starting center in the league and has not even attempted a shot outside 5 feet since opening day. He was given this mid-level contract because of his defensive versatility and ability to stay with guards and wings on the perimeter yet his lateral quickness has diminished which does not bear well with the fact that he is below average rim protector. Bjelica looked like a perfect fit as a specialty weapon off the bench with his ability to stretch the floor, but he has adopted a shy trigger finger from 3 in the last few weeks and has constantly been picked-on on the defensive end.

This move really only makes sense if A.) trade 1 is already executed and Robinson’s size is already on the roster, or B.) after acquiring Theis, an additional 7-footer is picked up on the buyout market, or C.) Wisemen confidently takes the starting center spot from Looney.

Theis would be an ideal fit next to Draymond in the starting lineup if the Warriors wanted to go small. He is a good shooting for a stretch big from many places on the floor and would completely open things up for the starting lineup who currently are starting two-non shooters. Dray and Theis would also be able to share the role of covering bigs inside allowing Draymond to play the rover at times which is where his value on defensive is maximized. It also would give another non-Draymond lineup for Kerr to go to that doesn’t depend on a non-shooter or a minus defender.

Conclusion 

An additional 1st round pick (their 2028 1st) could be added to either trade or an additional 2nd rounder to sweeten the deal. If both trades were executed, it would limit the Warriors moving forward for moves they could make, similar to the situation that both LA teams and Brooklyn have found themselves in. However, they would have a frontcourt rotation of Draymond, Mitchell, Wisemen, and Theis, which would be a substantial upgrade of what they currently have. If they would be willing to spend even more and go even deeper in the luxury tax, they would be able to retain Robinson and have the two young athletic 7-footers in him and Wisemen for the foreseeable future.

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