Yesterday, news broke that the the Golden State Warriors were holding workouts for a group of veteran players: Juan Toscano-Anderson, Dion Waiters, Harry Giles, Trey Burke, Kent Bazemore, and Tony Snell.
The reason why they’re holding workouts is obvious: they only have 13 of their 15 roster spots filled. And while I expect the Dubs to enter the season with one open roster spot, they definitely won’t be opening it with two.
Which means they need to sign a 14th player.
But what kind of player do they want?
Well, the answer is obvious: a Nikola Jokić, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Steph Curry type. Can those players be bought out, please? Or, in Steph’s case, cloned?
That dream scenario is, of course, not even remotely realistic, so the Warriors will have to settle for something a bit more humble. Which perhaps makes the question, what do they want? even more meaningful.
Given the point in the offseason, and the financial limitations of the team, the Dubs can’t target a known difference-maker. That’s not to say their 14th player won’t be a difference-maker, but ... they can’t expect it, at least on the court.
So here are a few things they can target.
A locker-room asset
The Warriors options aren’t limited to the six players listed in that workout report, but if they were, Toscano-Anderson is the obvious fit for this box. He’s a known quantity as a locker-room guy. Steve Kerr loves him, the veterans and stars love him, and the young players love him. He has championship acumen, a team-first attitude, and has proven to maintain a good attitude even when playing sparingly.
There are obviously other players who can fit this mold too. Bazemore is close friends with Curry, and there’s Andre Iguodala if they want to go all-in on the all-locker-room, no-court concept.
After the chemistry issues of last year, the Warriors will surely take locker room fit into consideration with every move. Maybe it’s not the biggest factor, but it will be one of them.
The desperation spark plug
Steve Kerr’s playing career ended with a bang. In his 15th and final NBA season, he was a seldom-used bench player with Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs. He was part of the rotation early on, but ended the year firmly planted to the back of the bench. Through the first 17 games of San Antonio’s playoff run, he received 12 DNPs. The other five games he was relegated to a few minutes of mop-up duty.
The 18th game of those playoffs was Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. As was his custom, Kerr was glued to the bench for the first half, and the Spurs entered the break trailing by six points. The third quarter went even worse, with the Spurs getting outscored by seven, putting them down 13 points, on the road, in Game 7.
Towards the end of the quarter, Popovich unexpectedly turned to Kerr. He made the only three he attempted in the quarter. Then Popovich played him for almost the entire fourth quarter ... a quarter that the Spurs won by 25 points to miraculously keep their season alive. Kerr finished a perfect 4-for-4 on threes in the game and, six games later, hoisted his fifth and final trophy as a player.
It’s hardly a secret that Kerr has looked for someone to reprise that role on the Warriors. He has a penchant for turning to a surprising bench player when the team is struggling, a habit that is at times beautiful and at times maddening. The Warriors could use the 14th spot on a “break glass in case of emergency” spark plug.
Snell is a fairly one-dimensional player, but he has shot 39.4% on threes for his career.
Waiters is a decent shooter who once shot 39.5% from deep on high volume for a full season. Terrence Ross remains unsigned. Hell, Lou Williams didn’t play last year, but could potentially be coaxed out of retirement with dreams of a ring.
Gilbert Arenas, anyone? OK, that one was a joke...
The Warriors feel good about their depth at all positions. They have lots of wings, and a veteran point guard backing up their two Hall of Fame point guards. Critics will point to the lack of true centers, but Kevon Looney is an ironman, Draymond Green can move over from the four to be one of the best fives in the world, Dario Šarić is a solid 6’10, and Trayce Jackson-Davis projects as pretty NBA ready (for a rookie, which is an important disclaimer) provided he’s limited in his role.
But it never hurts to have another body to throw out there just in case. Heck, JTA had plenty of games when he was on the Warriors where his role was basically to sit on the bench until they needed someone to come in for a rebound or a foul. You never know when you need to play Hack-a-Shaq, when your bigs might get into foul trouble, or, worse yet, there’s an injury or two.
The Warriors could fill this role with a system-centric big like Toscano-Anderson or Giles, or look towards a more traditional, plodding center, like Šarić and Chris Paul’s teammate last year, Bismack Biyombo.
There’s always the riskier but more exciting option: a player who they think could, by the end of the season, be a solid contributor. Of the reported group, Giles definitely fits the bill the most. He’s still only 25, was a first-round draft pick, and is a fluid 6’11 player with quality passing chops and instincts.
He’s also been plagued by injuries in his career and has never actually been good, but...
In summation, hopefully Kevin Durant gets bought out. Let’s run it back.