The Golden State Warriors have made a surprising move prior to the start of the regular season.
As the Warriors shape their final roster prior to next Thursday’s home game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State waived veteran forward Alfonzo McKinnie, who played a key role in the rotation last season for the team. The move was apparently made so the Warriors could open up a roster spot for Marquese Chriss, who signed with Golden State upon the start of training camp at the end of September.
McKinnie spent one season with the Warriors, averaging 4.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game on 35.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc last season. He remained a stable member of the rotation in the postseason, appearing in 22 games while averaging 10.7 minutes per contest.
Warriors Waive McKinnie Due to Hard Cap
The move was largely made due to the Warriors having little wiggle room under the hard cap, according to Shayna Rubin of The Mercury News.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr had nothing but positive things to say about the 27-year-old forward following his release.
“It’s a really, really difficult move to make because we have so much respect for Zo and not only his talent on the court, but character off the court,” Kerr said. “He’s been fantastic, just a real pro. He’s the kind of person you want on your team. And he’s an NBA player. He helped us win a lot of games last year; helped us get to the Finals. He’s everything you want from a player in your locker room in terms of being a great teammate and great worker.”
Warriors Needed a Center and Marquese Chriss Fits That Bill
The Warriors also made the move in large part due to their lack of options at center. Projected starting center Willie Cauley-Stein remains out due to injury and primary backup Kevon Looney is questionable for the season opener.
In other words, there’s a good chance Chriss could start the season opener at center despite being a natural power forward.
“It’s exciting to think of Marquese as a prospect for us in the future,” Kerr said. “We haven’t had a high draft pick here in seven, eight years. So to get a 22-year-old who is a high lottery pick, means a lot adding that kind of talent to the roster.”
“The biggest growth has to come defensively, we’re asking him to play up,” Kerr said. “He’s really a 4 in terms of his size but we’re asking him to play 5 and there’s a lot of responsibility there too. That will come. We’re going to continue to work with him and teach him and Draymond will continue to mentor him.”
Although Chriss never lived up to his draft billing — No. 8 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft– with the Sacramento Kings, he did make an impression during his short stint with the Warriors in the preseason. The 22-year-old averaged 9.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 and 1.5 blocks per game.
As things currently stand, the Warriors will likely go with a starting five featuring Chriss, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell and Glenn Robinson III when they host the Clippers in the first-ever regular season game at Chase Center next Thursday night.