Rebounding is a key component to winning basketball games. Whether it's to finish off a defensive possession or to reset the shot clock on offense, a rebound equals possession of the basketball. And while the Warriors are leading the NBA with a 42-9 record, they are being outrebounded so far this season. In a league where 18 of the last 20 NBA Champions pulled down more boards than their opponents, this could spell disaster in the postseason.
Of course, the NBA trade deadline isn't here yet, and the Warriors still have the opportunity to bring in reinforcements from around the league. Let's take a look at what big men around the league might be available in a trade, and what the Warriors would have to give up to acquire them.
1. Kevin Garnett, Brooklyn Nets (6'11", $12 million expiring)
The Big Ticket is close to the end of his career, but he's still averaging nearly 21 minutes a night for the Nets. He's not scoring well, with a per 36 average of just 11.7 on .480 TS%, but his rebounding is as strong as ever at 12 boards/36. According to ESPN, his RPM is 1.39, DRPM is 2.33 (despite no longer being a threat to block shots), and his WAR is 1.74.
He looks like a reasonable candidate to play a backup role for the Warriors, except the Nets are looking forward to the cap relief his expiring contract provides next season. Even then, their league high 91 million dollar roster will still be at nearly 77 million next season, second only to the Warriors.
To make a trade for Garnett, the Warriors would likely have to take on an additional long term contract. Maybe a KG/Jack (6.3 million next season) package for Lee (and an expiring contract) trade could be worked out, but I doubt that the Nets would want to take on Lee's contract for next season. It's likely that they would require our first round pick as a sweetener for adding the extra salary to next season. Since we'd be giving up both of our top scoring bigs, our first round pick, and adding Jack's 6.3 millon to our payroll for next season, it's hard to see this trade as a positive for either team. Garnett is a slightly better rebounder than Speights and Lee, but they are both much better offensively at this point.
2. Cole Aldrich, New York Knicks (6'11", 1 million expiring)
The 26 year old Cole Aldrich is having a down season, despite playing a career high 16.7 minutes per game for the Knicks. After putting up a career high .620 TS% last season, he's at a career low .506 TS% this year. However, his per 36 rebound rate comes in at 11.5, right in line with his career average of 11.6. That would make him the second best rebounder on the Warriors behind Andrew Bogut. If Aldrich approached last season's 14 rebounds/36, he'd instantly become the team's best rebounder. His RPM, however, is last in the league among 76 centers at -4.62.
Still, he could be a cheap option to take a flyer on. The Knicks are rumored to be trying to move Pablo Prigiani, a pass first point guard who puts up career per 36 averages of 7.9 points and 6.1 assists, while shooting a career .607 TS% (.415 from deep). Perhaps a package of Aldrich, Prigioni (1.7 this year and next), and Jason Smith (3.3 million expiring, to make the numbers match. He's been a terrible player this season) for Shaun Livingston (5.3/5.5 million) could be worked out. This deal would also save the Warriors 3-4 million dollars in cap space next season, while the Knicks would still have room to sign another free agent to a max level contract. The Knicks currently only have 34 million on the books for next season.
3. Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks (6'11", 11 million this year and the next 3)
Sanders has had an up-and-down career for the Bucks, and could be a buy-low option as he is coming off a 10 game suspension for a positive marijuana test. He broke his hand in a bar fight back in December of 2013, and then was shut down for the rest of that season in March 2014 with a fractured orbital bone. His failed drug test was the second of his career, both happening in the last 9 months. The Bucks have several young core pieces (Brandon Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson) that they might not want to be influenced by Sanders. They also have other serviceable bigs (Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova), and an elite defender in Khris Middleton. Sanders is the biggest contract on the Bucks with 3 seasons remaining on his deal after this year, and the Bucks will likely want to clear cap space for the big contracts expected for Knight and Giannis over the next two summers, and the significant raises that Henson and Middleton will also receive in that span.
Those are the reasons that Sanders might be available. His on-court production is solid, with career per 36 averages of 11.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks, and he currently ranks 9th among centers in DRPM. He's not an efficient scorer though, and Milwaukee may want to add a scoring big to their rotation as they push for the playoffs after having the worst record in the league last year.
Lee is the opposite of Sanders. He's highly professional, and all offense. He could be a positive role model for the Milwaukee's young players, and his contract runs out in time to re-sign Henson and Giannis. The numbers don't match up right, and Lee is much older and has a worse injury history than Sanders, so the Bucks would likely look to add OJ Mayo and his 8 million dollar salary (this year and next) to the mix for Lee. That would mean the Warriors would have to include someone else to match the salaries up, probably Shaun Livingston.
4. Lavoy Allen, Indiana Pacers (6'9", 950K expiring)
The Pacers are already committed over the salary cap for next season if veteran's David West and Roy Hibbert take their player options as expected. They aren't bad enough to get a top draft pick, and have Luis Scola, CJ Watson, Chris Copeland, Rodney Stuckey, Lavoy Allen, and Donald Sloan all coming off the books next season. That means that the Pacers are in the unenviable position of trying to fill their roster with a Mid Level Exception and a bunch of veteran's minimum contracts. For a team that had championship aspirations just 10 months ago, that's not a pretty position to be in.
Rebounding is a strength for the Pacers. They have a lot of depth up front, and might be willing to trade an expiring like Lavoy Allen for the Warriors first round draft pick and Ognjen Kuzmic for salary matching purposes. Allen is averaging 11.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per 36, but only shooting .517 TS%. However, he's at .498 from the floor and .692 from the line. His lack of three point shooting seems to be what drags his TS% down. ESPN has his RPM at a very respectable 3.01 with a DRPM of 1.87 in 21 minutes for the Pacers, and while the team is currently only 2.5 games behind 8th seed Miami in the East, they are sitting on a 19-32 record and would likely want to pick up future assets to add perimeter help around Paul George when he returns from injury.
5. Bismack Biyombo, Charlotte Hornets (6'9", 4.1 million expiring)
The Hornets are sitting on 7th place in the East despite winning at a pathetic .431 rate. They've made big free agent acquisitions the last few seasons, first bringing in big man Al Jefferson to man the middle, and then adding perimeter Swiss Army knife Lance Stevenson to the mix last summer. However, their offense has struggled mightily, and they only boast two players that score with average or better efficiency, little used journeyman Jannero Pargo (9 games played) and defensive specialist Bismack Biyombo.
Biyombo has seen his minutes dwindle with the addition of Al Jefferson to the lineup. After averaging over 23 and 27 minutes his first two seasons, he's down to 13.9 and 17.6 the last two seasons. He doesn't appear to be a big part of the Hornets' plans moving forward, despite being in the top 10 in blocks his first two years. His O/DRtgs the last two years look like 115/99 and 114/98, and his RPM is a postive .16 despite playing only 17.6 minutes a night. He's currently averaging 9.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per 36, and scoring at an efficient .570 TS%.
Biyombo's salary (4.1 million expiring/ restricted free agent) is tough for the Warriors to match, but a package of BIyombo/Pargo matches pretty close with Livingston's 5.3, or the Warriors could opt to go bigger with the deal and trade David Lee for a Biyombo/Stevenson package, and maybe even talk Charlotte into sending a draft pick to the Warriors as a sweetener in the process.
6. Dewayne Dedmon, Orlando Magic (7', 816k, team option)
This guy only played 6 total minutes for the Warriors under the Caterpillar, but seems to have found his game since moving to Orlando. He's playing 11.1 minutes per game, and has per 36 averages of 10.6 points and 12.6 rebounds to go with his .561 TS%. The Magic already have Nikola Vucevic and Channing Frye signed to big contracts, and word on the street is that Magic GM Rob Hennigan thinks the Magic's young players such as Andrew Nicholson, Mo Harkless, Kyle O'Quinn, Tobias Harris, and Aaron Gordon should all be playing more minutes than they were under former coach Jacque Vaughn. That probably means that Dedmon isn't a big part of their future plans, and that a salary match with a player like Ojngen Kuzmic along with swapping the Warriors first round pick for the Magic's second round pick (right now it's 4 picks behind the Warriors) might be enough to add the big man to the Warriors roster again.
7. JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets (7', 12 million this year and next)
JaVale McGee might make some hilarious mistakes, but he's extremely athletic. His rebounding is down since playing alongside Kenneth Faried, but he still has career per 36 averages of 15.3 points and 10 rebounds and 3.3 blocks, to go with his .558 TS%. He's had some injury issues too, and a big contract, but I think you could do worse for a 10-15 minute per game backup center that runs the floor like he does.
The Nuggets have made it clear that they see Jusuf Nurkic as their center of the future. They traded Timofey Mozgov for two first round picks (one from the Grizzlies, the other from the Thunder) to make room for the rookie, and are trying to bring draft pick Joffrey Lauvergne over from Europe. They're out of the playoff picture this season, and playing some of the worst basketball in the Association, including recent losses to Boston, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. The 76ers game was the worst, with the 76ers playing the second game of a back-to-back, and their 4th game in 5 nights. They led the Nuggets by as many as 28 points in that one.
Coach Brian Shaw has lost his locker room, publicly accusing the team of losing on purpose. GM Tim Connelly is trying like the dickens to secure a low post scorer to fit into Shaw's inside-out offensive scheme. They've offered McGee, JJ Hickson, and a first round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for the oft-injured, rebound-and-defense allergic Brook Lopez... and Lopez could opt out after the season. They are in desperate need of professionalism to mentor all of their young players. My guess is that the Nuggets would happily take David Lee for JaVale McGee, a first round pick (they have a few), and unsung Darrell Arthur (an underrated defender).
8. Miles Plumlee, Phoenix Suns (6'10", 1.2/2.1 million this year and next)
Phoenix has been trying to trade Plumlee for a first round pick, up until starting center Alex Len sprained his surgically repaired ankle last week against the Portland Trailblazers. That price tag may have gone up now, since Phoenix needs him to stay in the playoff picture in the unforgiving Western Conference. However, with Alex Len and Brandan Wright taking most of the minutes at center, maybe the Suns still want to get a future piece for Plumlee.
His per 36 numbers are down this year, posting career lows of 8.3 points and 9.7 rebounds, but he put up 11.8/11.5 just last season. His scoring efficiency is up to a respectable .551 TS%, and he blocks 1.9 shots/36 this season. Since the Warriors are over the cap, they would have to send a similar contract back to the Suns, so perhapsBrandon Rush and the Warriors first round pick for Miles Plumlee would get it done.
9. Ed Davis, LA Lakers (6'10", 981K)
Ed Davis has been one of the few bright spots for the Lakers this season. His per 36 numbers are 12.1 points and 11 rebounds, along with 1.8 blocks and a .591 TS%. There's no way the Lakers trade him for one of the Warriors' matching salaries unless you want to send Draymond Green for him, and the Warriors certainly don't want to do that. A package built around the Warriors draft pick might get it done, but with Davis saying he will opt out after the season, the rental price is pretty steep. The Lakers' season is lost anyways, and they have an obscene amount of cap room to sign Davis in the offseason if they choose to, so they might like picking up the extra draft pick. For sake of conversation, let's say Kuzmic and a first for Ed Davis.
10. Jordan Hill, LA Lakers (6'10", 9 million with team option)
Jordan Hill is playing a career high 28 minutes a game for the Lakers, and has career per 36's of 14.9 points and 11.3 rebounds, along with 1.4 blocks and a .537 TS%. He's nursing a hip flexor injury and should be out for a couple of weeks, but has been generally healthy and consistent this season. The Lakers seem likely to pursue Ed Davis in the offseason, making Hill the odd man out. His 9 million dollar contract doesn't match up with any of the Warriors trade assets, and a package would have to be assembled to put a Warriors uniform on him.
However, according to reports, Kobe Bryant doesn't like (check out the last few seconds of this clip) Jeremy Lin much. Lin has a 15 million dollar expiring contract, but only 8.4 million counts towards the cap. A Lin/Hill package for David Lee could help the Warriors out with both a rebounder and a backup point guard that can shoot the three a little bit (.377 from beyond the arc), and take nearly 17.5 million off the Warriors books in the offseason.