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A look at the Warriors’ replacement player options

The NBA is allowing teams to expand their rosters in response to COVID outbreaks. We have some suggestions.

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
EuroBasket champion and Slovenian national hero Anthony Randolph, not crying one bit.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

In response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the NBA and the Players Association reached a deal that now allows teams to sign replacement players for those in the health and safety protocols. For each player that tests positive, the teams can sign a replacement. Crucially for the Golden State Warriors, who are already facing a nine-figure luxury tax bill, adding new players won’t affect the team’s cap or tax situations.

Right now, the Warriors have two players in the health and safety protocols, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. They’ll both miss tonight’s game against Sacramento, and won’t return to the team until they can test negative for the virus two times, at least 24 hours apart.

So who should the Warriors sign, if the protocols leave the team short-handed? Let’s review some candidates.

Anthony Randolph: When the Warriors drafted Anthony Randolph in 2008, it felt like a huge coup. Don Nelson famously attempted to “sucker” the Kings into taking Jason Thompson over Randolph by having the much older Thompson destroy him in a one-on-one workout. (Thompson went on to play the most games in Sacramento Kings history) Randolph could do it all: block shots, dunk, handle the ball, mishandle the ball, cry on the court, antagonize Yao Ming, anything. He was also robbed of a Summer League MVP award in 2009 - giving it to Blake Griffin was all politics!

After two brief, potential-filled years, the Warriors shipped him out in the David Lee sign-and-trade with the Knicks. He bounced around the NBA before taking his talents to Europe, where he led Lokomotiv Kuban to the EuroLeague Final Four. Then he won a title with Real Madrid, became a naturalized Slovenian citizen, and won the EuroBasket title with Luka Doncic. Last year he tore his Achilles tendon, but this month he returned to the court. For a Warriors team lacking in size, a 6’11” center who shot 49% from three as recently as 2019-20 would certainly be welcome. Let’s get Ant Rand a ring!

Monta Ellis: The 36-year-old Ellis has been out of the NBA for four years now, but I refuse to believe that Monta can’t still get buckets. In the dark pre-Lacob era for the Dubs, Ellis was one of the few bright spots. Sure, he was inefficient, and sure, he was a turnstile on defense, but there have been few Golden State Warriors who played harder than Monta. There’s a reason Joe Lacob got booed by the entirety of Oracle Arena trading him, even though history bore out the wisdom of acquiring Andrew Bogut. Look, he already said he wants to retire as a Warrior. If you have to replace Jordan Poole, it may as well be with another undersized gunner.

Jordan Bell: He’s in shape, he’s in Santa Cruz, and he’s ready to make some fraudulent charges to Kenny Atkinson’s hotel room.

Zaza Pachulia: Sure, Zaza is 37 years old, and he’s been away from the game for two years. But he’s already working for the organization as a basketball operations consultant, so if they really needed him, it’s a pretty short trip to join the roster. He may be old, but Zaza wasn’t quick when he was on the two title teams either. Just imagine the big Georgian suiting up for Christmas Day, freeing up Curry with monster screens and sliding under Devin Booker’s feet on three-point attempts!

Leandro Barbosa: Another guy who already works for the team as a player mentor coach is the Brazilian Blur, Leandro Barbosa. Sure, he’s 39 years old, but in his last professional season in 2019-20, he led the Brazilian league in scoring while playing for Minas Tênis Clube. Also, he’s already had COVID-19! If the team is truly serious about being championship again, they’ll have to consider LB.

Jacob Evans: Nope.

Mike Dunleavy Jr.: Also in the Warriors’ front office, also a nope. Although if he promises to rip off his shirt and throw it into the crowd again, we might briefly consider it.

Rick Barry: The Warriors are 21st in free throw percentage this season. Sounds like the whole team could benefit from having one of the greatest free throw shooters of all time bring his granny-style expertise to the court, even if he’s 77 years old now. He’s still winning gold medals in pickleball, specifically senior doubles at the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championship, arguably THE most prestigious event of the pickleball season. C’mon Bob Myers! Show a little class! Give him the respect that he deserves!

Axel Toupane: Not only is Toupane a former NBA champion - he signed with the Bucks last season and actually played in the Finals - but the Warriors liked him enough to give him an Exhibit 10 deal (AKA, a bonus above his normal G League salary) to incentivize him to stay with Santa Cruz. He’s a 6’7” swingman, he’s 29, and he’s scoring 20 points per game in Santa Cruz. Plus he’s won the French Leaders Cup with SIG Strasbourg AND the Lithuanian King Mindaugas Cup with Basketball Club Žalgiris. All he does is win!

Terrell Owens: TO has unfinished business in the Bay Area, and we know what a clutch playoff performer he is. As for his basketball credentials, well, you don’t get a chance to sign a two-time All-Star Celebrity Game MVP everyday. He absolutely dominated Michael Rapaport and Mark Cuban. Is getting some buckets against the 2021 Detroit Pistons all that different? Let’s get T.O. out in Klay Thompson’s driveway doing sit-ups to prepare for his callup.

Mychel Thompson: Klay’s brother was a star at Pepperdine, and had two stints with the Santa Cruz Warriors, one playing alongside Seth Curry in the backcourt. We have no idea if Mychel can play, or if he’s in shape, but anything that might make our sweet Klay happy should be strongly considered. His brother Trayce plays baseball for the Cubs, but hell, sign him too.

Sean Keane: Look, Keane is only 5’7 1/2. He can’t dribble with his left hand, or without staring at the ball. But, if the Warriors put him on the court, he will throw the ball to Steph Curry every single time, he once won a gift certificate to Yogurt Clouds for winning a free throw contest in CYO basketball, and once took a charge from 300-pound future NFL offensive tackle Langston Walker during an intramural game at Cal. (The foul was not called, and Keane had to crawl off the court trying to catch his breath.) Also he wants to wear jersey number 69. (It’s the sex number) Clearly this is a longshot, but it’s not really worse than bringing back Jacob Evans again.