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Buyout Candidates Part 1: The big men

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The Warriors have a roster spot to fill. Could they use it on a center?

New York Knicks v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors only have 25 games left on their schedule, but their roster still isn’t full. The team currently has used only 14 of their available 15 roster spots, as well as their pair of two-way contracts (as a reminder, two-way contracts are not eligible for postseason play unless converted to the roster).

With Golden State’s recent playoff injury history, the team will likely fill the 15th spot before the intensity of the postseason begins.

Players have to be off of their current team’s roster by March 1 in order to be playoff eligible with their new team. The Warriors don’t have to sign the player by March 1, however.

Today we’ll look at three groups of buyout candidates for the Warriors 15th roster spot. Let’s start with the centers.

Do the Warriors need a center?

This entirely depends on your roster-building philosophy. If you were a GM would you wish to fill out the roster with a player who can contribute the most, immediately? Or would you take a risk-averse approach and grab a security blanket in case anything goes wrong?

Here’s the reality: A healthy Warriors team doesn’t need another center. They have a four-time All-Star in DeMarcus Cousins, who is gaining more comfort and rhythm with every game. Behind him they have Kevon Looney, who has quietly established himself as one of the best defensive bigs in the league at switching onto the perimeter. Damian Jones may return in time for some playoff games.

But Cousins is only 11 games into his return after missing a year with a torn Achilles. His health is far from guaranteed. And if he goes down with an injury, the Warriors may be left with only Looney, Jordan Bell, and a whole lot of small ball.

That’s a risk Bob Myers may not be willing to take.

Who are the options?

Before we dive into the big men the Warriors might look at, let’s look at who is off the table.

Enes Kanter, after securing a buyout from the New York Knicks, signed with the Portland Trail Blazers. Another Knicks center who figured to be on the market, DeAndre Jordan, is apparently staying put, as New York wants to re-sign him and potentially use him as a recruiting piece this summer.

But there are still a lot of options. Let’s get to them.

Robin Lopez

Season stats (50 games): 17.8 minutes, 7.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game, 58.1% true shooting

Lopez has been linked to the Warriors for quite some time now, and it makes sense. Golden State offers a winning environment for an 11-year veteran who’s only made the playoffs four times, and never made it past of the second round. And Lopez would bring size and strength to a Warriors team that could use both of those things, as well as veteran leadership.

There’s just one tiny problem: Lopez hasn’t been bought out. The Chicago Bulls have yet to part with their veteran center, and have been giving him consistent minutes in the aftermath of losing rookie center Wendell Carter Jr to injury and trading power forward Bobby Portis.

Chicago is well out of the playoff race, so there’s really no reason for them to hang onto Lopez, yet it’s not clear if they’ll actually let him leave.

Marcin Gortat

Season stats (47 games): 16.0 minutes, 5.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game, 56.2% true shooting

Gortat is, apparently, holding out hope for interest from the Warriors. According to a Polish report (props to r/Warriors for the translation) the 12th-year center has eyes only for Golden State.

The only issue is, does Golden State have eyes for him? It would seem unlikely, as Gortat has struggled mightily all year long, and has had more than a few recent cases of being a part of locker room strife.

Try as hard as he may, it just doesn’t seem like Gortat and the Warriors are a good match . . . at least for the Warriors.

Frank Kaminsky

Season stats (26 games): 10.8 minutes, 5.2 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game, 57.9% true shooting

Kaminsky, like Lopez, hasn’t been bought out yet. And while the Charlotte Hornets are very much in the playoff race, it appears that the organization and the player have already gone through a divorce.

But the bigger problem is likely the fact that Kaminsky hasn’t been a good player recently, and his style doesn’t seem to fit with the Warriors. The floor-stretching big could provide emergency depth and some shooting, but little else, since he struggles defensively and cannot guard anyone on a switch.

Greg Monroe

Season stats (38 games): 11.1 minutes, 4.8 points, and 4.1 rebounds per game, 48.7% true shooting

Monroe was a very intriguing player recently, but has fallen off a pretty steep cliff. He’s not big enough or defensively inclined enough to be able to really provide anything positive that Bell doesn’t already provide, so it would seem like Golden State’s interest will be limited.

Zach Randolph

Has not appeared in any games this season

This isn’t happening, but it would be awesome.

So, do they get a big?

There aren’t a ton of options for a Warriors team that may want to beef up the interior.

No one knows what Myers and Steve Kerr are looking for on the buyout market, but if I had to guess, Lopez will end up in the Bay Area if (and it’s a big if) he’s bought out. If not, I wouldn’t expect the Warriors to sign a center.