Warriors Waive Young Prospect in Favor of Roster Room for Vets

Bob Myers Steve Kerr

Getty Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers, left, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr stand on stage during a news conference at the Warriors headquarters.

The Golden State Warriors over the last week have added several new players to next year’s roster via free agency and the NBA draft.

On Wednesday, the team changed the math and subtracted a contributor from last season to create more roster room.

The Warriors on the morning of Aug. 4 announced via their official public relations Twitter account that they had waived forward Alen Smailagic.

“Smailagic appeared in 15 games for the Warriors last season, averaging 1.9 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.6 minutes per game,” the press release stated. “The Serbian native appeared in 29 games (one start) over two seasons with Golden State, compiling averages of 3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.7 minutes. Smailagic was originally selected by the New Orleans Pelicans in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft (39th overall) before being acquired by the Warriors on draft night.”

The Warriors picked up Smailagic from the South Bay Lakers via the 2018 G League draft. The forward owns the distinction of being the youngest prospect to ever play in the G League. He also played in 47 games with the Santa Cruz Warriors over the course of the 2018-19 season.

Warriors Pass on Continued Project of Smailagic’s Development

Alen Smailagic

GettyAlen Smailagic turns the ball over in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

The move from the Warriors did not come as a major surprise to those who follow the team closely.

Anthony Slater, of The Athletic, reported on Sunday, Aug. 1 that Smailagic was not long for Golden State, projecting that the move would be made before Friday, Aug. 6 when the forward’s contract with the team would become guaranteed.

“(Smailagic) had two more non-guaranteed seasons remaining on his deal,” Slater tweeted. “Took him 39th in 2019 draft. Didn’t pan out. This frees up an extra 15-man spot as they add to the roster in coming days.”

Warriors Not Short on Moves Made Early in NBA Free Agency


GettyDraymond Green and Nemanja Bjelica during a game in January.

Golden State has begun making additions to its roster that the team hopes will prove more fruitful than did its two-year experiment with Smailagic. The Warriors began with the signing of Otto Porter Jr. on a veterans minimum deal.

It is difficult to put a finger on precisely who Porter is at this point in his career, as well as who he can potentially be alongside some of the most dynamic backcourt players in recent NBA history in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

At the peak of his powers, Porter was a solid scorer able to defend multiple positions on the floor. The eight-year veteran has a career scoring average of 10.9 points per game but has also poured in points at a significantly higher rate during recent stops in his NBA tenure. He’s also reliable on the glass, pulling down five rebounds per game.

Porter is not the perimeter addition Warriors fans might have hoped for at earlier, more optimistic points during this offseason, with rumors of Ben Simmons or Bradley Beal being potentially available. However, Porter should add depth to a roster that lacked that quality last season, relying on young talent to carry its bench minutes.

Golden State also signed 33-year-old Nemanja Bjelica. He, too, will play this season on a veterans minimum contract.

The sharp-shooting, stretch big man started his NBA career with three seasons playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, appearing in 192 games, of which he started 22 of them. He averaged 7.9 points and 4.6 rebounds playing more than a quarter and a half per game. He’s also had multiple other stops during his career.

While neither signing has blown away Dub Nation, the Warriors have gotten good value with each player based on projected performance against financial commitment. Furthermore, Golden State has reportedly been interested in acquiring Bjelica for years.

“The Warriors reportedly were interested in acquiring Bjelica before last season’s trade deadline, but the Miami Heat ended up landing the Serbian native,” wrote Drew Shiller, of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Tuesday afternoon.

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