The Golden State Warriors are starting to resemble the Dubs teams that earned trips to five consecutive NBA Finals, but there is still room to improve the roster.
If the Warriors have one weakness that could haunt them as the postseason rolls on, presumably through Memphis and then Phoenix just to escape from the West, it’s a lack of defense and size along the frontline. The Warriors have shown that element won’t always be crucial to success, notably by running out their new “death lineup” to start Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets in Round 1. That lineup consists of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green.
But Golden State won’t always be able to relegate center Kevon Looney to a bench role so easily, particularly if they come up against Suns big man Deandre Ayton in the Western Conference Finals or a player like two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwuakee Bucks in a battle for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Trade rumors and tales of buyout additions abounded throughout the 2021-22 regular season, yet the Warriors front office stood pat. General manager Bob Myers said that was because the right player did not present himself for the right price.
However, now that the first round of the NBA Playoffs has concluded, that player might be available in the form of Rudy Gobert, the center for the Utah Jazz. And the price might be a couple of players with whom Golden State would be willing to part, especially if the Dubs fall short of a fourth NBA Title this postseason due to a lack of size on the interior.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
ESPN Insiders Report Gobert to Warriors a Real Possibility This Offseason
After yet another disappointing playoff run, some of the most prominent NBA analysts believe there is no way the Jazz don’t blow up their roster. The talk revolves around moving either Gobert, Donovan Mitchell or both, though the most popular notion is that it will be Gobert on the trade block.
Among those analysts discussing the Gobert trade recently were ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon on the Friday, April 29 edition of the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast. MacMahon opened the conversation with a joke, alluding to the rocky relationship between Gobert and Green, who have engaged in public spats over the years.
“I know Rudy [Gobert] and Draymond Green have a great relationship,” MacMahon said in jest. “Any Golden State possibilities there?”
“I have heard that rumor out there. I guess it would be based around Wiggins, I don’t know,” Windhorst responded. “The Warriors might win the title this year. And if they win the title, I don’t know if they’re looking for a major shakeup. But that’s the one spot that the Warriors are [lacking], they don’t have that big. And they have young players, and they have the Wiggins contract.”
“Wiggins and [James] Wiseman,” MacMahon added. “That’s a start there.”
“I don’t think [the Warriors] should be considered the leader [to trade for Gobert], but I think that’s on the board,” Windhorst said. “I’ve definitely heard that.”
Wiseman Would Be Centerpiece of Trade For Gobert
While Wiggins would be part of any deal sending Gobert to the Warriors, his involvement would be primarily to make the salaries match up as closely as necessary for the trade to comply with NBA rules. Even despite Wiggins’ first All-Star selection in 2021-22, the prize in this package would be Wiseman’s upside.
The downside, of course, is that Wiseman has been hurt for more than half of his two-year NBA career. The center appeared in just 39 games two seasons ago before going down with a torn MCL in his knee. Wiseman was projected back at some point during the middle of this season, but underwent a second, unexpected knee surgery in December to address the same injury.
Wiseman appeared on track to return near the end of the year, seeing action in three games with the Warriors’ G League affiliate. However, he began experiencing knee soreness on March 19, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State decided to shut him down for the season six days later, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
In the games he has played, Wiseman averaged 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks, according to Basketball Reference. That’s a far cry from the 15.6 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per night posted last season by Gobert.
The 29-year-old Gobert, a three-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection, has also won Defensive Player of The Year honors three times during his nine-year career. But a deal for Wiggins and Wiseman wouldn’t necessarily be about getting back equal on-court talent right away.
Instead, such a move by the Jazz would be focused on a partial reset with young, less expensive talent that would allow for something of a shift away from a philosophy that has proven moderately, but not ultimately, successful in Utah over the last several seasons.
Another possible option that may allow the Warriors to secure Gobert would be to offer the Jazz Wiggins and rookie Jonathan Kuminga, though Kuminga’s explosiveness on both sides of the floor will likely make him untouchable from Golden State’s perspective. In either prospective trade, the Warriors would also likely need to include a draft pick or two to get a deal for Gobert done.