Fun while it lasted: Iguodala out again, Warriors really short-handed again/still. Time to make a move?
It's a matinee game at noon thirty on the front end of a back-to-back
The Golden State Warriors are hitting the road, and will be hoping that it’s all starting to come together. Though they’ve been tough to come by earlier in the season, after picking up their fourth road win of the season in their last game - a blowout of the San Antonio Spurs - the Warriors are hoping to find their stride in the back half of the season.
Unfortunately, one of the key stabilizing forces won’t be available. It was a short re-appearance from Andre Iguodala. He did indeed hurt himself on that one breakaway dunk that had him limping away. That’s just two games of action for Iguodala, a veteran that turns 39 in nine days. There’s no indication yet if this will be another long absence, or a case of simple management of his old man hips.
For today’s matinee game against the Chicago Bulls, both sides will be dealing with the injury bug. According to the most recent injury report, Lonzo Ball and Javonte Green are both out, with Zach Lavine probable and DeMar DeRozan questionable.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (21-21) at Chicago Bulls (19-24)
WHEN: Sunday, January 15th, 2023 // 12:30pm PDT
Do the Warriors have a big man issue?
It’s not a simple question. Between steady starter Kevon Looney, and key moments out of Draymond Green, Golden State has the most important stuff covered. So in a primary sense, the Warriors are covered at the center position. Mostly.
Where the scheme falls a bit short is around the edges - areas that definitely matter, to a lesser extent. If the main players aren’t enough, you’re pretty screwed; main guys are the ones that define the ceiling but the edge players around the edges do a lot of the lifting. In any season, there’s plenty of changes throughout the year as players get banged up, so it’s a known value to have a flexible roster assembled with some redundancies built in.
Golden State is in a weird position right now because of the injuries. For whatever reason , the bulk of the team’s injuries have hit their backup center position. With Kuminga, Wiseman, JaMychal Green still out, it’s been all about Draymond and Looney - which is fine until something goes wrong. To be clear, this is a little bit down the list of concerns, but the overall issue holds a looming importance.
It’s common sense, but the science backs up the premise that playing heavier loads increases the risk of injury. It’s not just total minutes, factors such as usage and days of rest are also contributing factors. Without the available big man depth from Wiseman and (other) Green, Looney and Green have been shouldering more than their share of the center burden. The initial soothing thought was that the return of Iguodala would shore up the issue - Kerr even called him their “third big” after the team’s last game - but that didn’t last very long.
It raises the question of reinforcements. Golden State’s entire system under coach Steve Kerr is notoriously complicated. Based off a series of moves and countermoves that also incorporates some free flowing elements, players are often challenged to survive here because of how hard the schemes challenge your basketball IQ and motor.
Even as the blowout of Spurs wound to it’s slow and certain end, there was Kevon Looney, sopping up minutes instead of chilling on the bench. Is it time to swing on one of those 10-day contracts? You don’t need a dream scenario trade, just having a big body to close out blowouts or not be a disaster for a random 5 minutes here and there would help.
Beyond that, there’s an internal pressure building.
Whether you believe him or not, Green assured us that his punch of Jordan Poole had nothing to do with Poole’s new contract. I’m not so sure. Green went through similar rumblings during Kevin Durant’s time with Golden State, and though he has a player option for next season, the general consensus is that it makes the most sense to restructure and extend him.
The overall roster cost next season will soar. As Jordan Poole’s new deal comes online, it will push the Warriors’ total salary up towards $450 million. Green is well aware of the pressures that the contracts of Poole and James Wiseman add to the mix. He’s also aware that part of his next deal will hinge on his availability as he ages.
As humans, we all have to accept moving forward with some ambiguity. The Warriors are pushing for a championship against a bunch of unknowns, with no guarantees for next season… much less this season.
But Wiseman makes $12 million next season. Poole’s salary climbs from about $4 million this year to around $29 million next year. If the Warriors can’t afford to extend Draymond Green, it’s a choice. Taking action soon would have the dual purpose of clearing some salary space next year while also improving the team this season.
Only, it’s not quite that simple. The list of players better than the current roster options isn’t the hard part - it’s the transaction itself. Even presuming for a moment that the Warriors can swing some meaningful trade that clears out room for a Green extension next year, it’s no simple matter to execute. Whatever Wiseman’s trade value is now (or Moses Moody for that matter), it’s pretty darn low, for sure. Selling low on an asset is often looked down at, but that’s the entire premise of the sunk cost fallacy.
My opinion doesn’t carry any weight with the front office (thank god), but I’m willing to ride this out through the end of the season. Finding a player on a 10 day is probably useful to explore, but maybe PBJ can be the answer. Reports are that Kuminga and Wiseman are nearing health again… but I think the biggest argument against a major trade involving the second timeline is that you probably can’t get a whole lot for any of the youngsters at this point. It doesn’t make sense to rock the boat in a fundamental way if it doesn’t improve the situation noticeably.
But then again… maybe it does?
More rain, and a Warriors win!