The Golden State Warriors have one glaring hole on an otherwise stellar roster, which needs to be addressed via trade in the next four days or the buyout market after that.
The Dubs are the best team in the NBA based on defensive rating, per StatMuse, but they still struggle to defend the rim for a full 48 minutes against teams with bigger and stronger front lines. Warriors center Kevon Looney has played well this season, but an injury that has sidelined Draymond Green for 15 games and counting has depleted an already thin and undersized Golden State interior.
Trade rumors have swirled around the Dubs as a result, often focusing on a potential move for a rim protector and rebounder. Myles Turner, of the Indiana Pacers, is the name that has been bandied about most frequently. However, a report from The Athletic’s Anthony Slater late last month indicated Golden State plans to stand pat with its current roster through the league’s February 10 trade deadline.
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For what it’s worth, The Ringer’s Bill Simmons agreed with Slater during a portion of The Bill Simmons Podcast episode that aired on Thursday, February 3. He added that the more likely move from the Dubs would be to add a big man and former draft pick of head coach Steve Kerr to the roster by way of the buyout market in the weeks after the NBA trade deadline.
“I would watch out for Robin Lopez with them, because Kerr drafted him, [he is a] good chemistry guy, fits in, [adds] some size and … seems like a buyout guy,” Simmons said.
Lopez Would Add Most What Warriors’ Roster is Missing Inside
Lopez was once an NBA ironman of sorts, starting in all 82 regular season games in three of the five seasons between 2012-17 and missing just one start in a fourth year. Things have changed over the last four seasons, however, as Lopez has played for four different franchises and started a total of just 59 games over that stretch.
Lopez is currently a member of the Orlando Magic and his appeared in just 24 of 55 games this year, but that is not due to any real health concerns. The Magic have a host of young big men playing ahead of Lopez for a team with the worst win/loss record in the entire league (12-43). ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks noted in a February 3 episode of The Lowe Post podcast that Lopez has taken the demotion in stride, almost comically so, sprawling out on the court at the end of the bench during games he sits and supporting his teammates regardless of his own level of playing time.
Beyond being the type of personality that can fit in with just about any locker room dynamic, Lopez has also averaged 8.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for his career, per Basketball Reference. Standing at 7 feet tall and weighing approximately 280 pounds, Lopez also brings a defensive presence inside who can bang with the likes of the league’s most dominant big men, including Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and the Milwaukee Bucks two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Draymond Green Injury Outlook Could Still Mean a Warriors Trade Before The Deadline
Neither Simmons nor his Thursday podcast partner Rob Mahoney, of The Ringer, believe that the Warriors will tamper with the chemistry of the roster by making a move in the trade market. That is especially true if such a move would cost one, or several, of the teams young draft picks over the last two years: big man James Wiseman, explosive wing Jonathan Kuminga and solid guard prospect Moses Moody.
“I don’t expect Golden State to do anything,” Simmons said. “I think their big impetus these next two months is just, ‘How do we integrate Klay [Thompson]? How does everybody get the right amount of minutes?'”
“Could they try to tinker around with like Kevon Looney and Wiseman together for a center? Maybe, I don’t know. But I don’t think they’re going to mess with what they have,” Simmons continued. “I think they like the chemistry too much.”
Mahoney agreed with Simmons, more or less, but noted that Green’s injury status could still prove an X-factor that might push Golden State to a trade out of necessity. The Warriors are a legitimate title contender sporting the second-best record in the NBA (40-13) more than 50 games into the regular season, despite a protracted shooting slump on the part of MVP candidate Steph Curry.
Mahoney laid out his thoughts on the situation in a discussion with Simmons:
The only thing would be with Draymond’s health and his back. If they have a sense that it’s gonna be hard for him to go all out the rest of the season, to play lots of minutes at [the five spot] in the playoffs, that’s where I could see them getting into the market for a big.
And maybe it isn’t even Wiseman or Looney, maybe there’s like a Moses Moody-based trade to be had — or flipping some of these role guys who are on not insignificant contracts and packaging them together to get a workable center to just plug some of those minutes.
I think something like that could be in the cards, but primarily they are who they are. They’re already a really good team. They don’t have a lot of incentive to move things around, even though they’ve been up and down, to say the least, lately. They’ve struggled a bit, and struggled to put things together offensively in a way that’s been a little surprising.
If the Warriors decide to pursue a trade, they’ll have to get it done by Thursday. Otherwise, they can pursue Lopez as soon as, and if, the Magic ultimately offer the big man a buyout.