Proposed NBA Trade Has Warriors Landing 2-Time All-Star


Getty The Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers during a game in January.

A variety of trade opportunities exist for the Golden State Warriors should they decide to try and improve on a roster that has already produced the best record in the NBA 20 games into the season.

One such proposal gaining some momentum in popular discourse involves a deal with the Indiana Pacers for their two-time All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis.

Leading the charge on the move to swap for Sabonis is NBA analyst Bill Simmons, of The Ringer. Simmons mentioned the possibility for a second time in as many weeks on the most recent episode of his self-titled podcast, which aired on Sunday evening, November 28.

“I keep thinking about (Sabonis) with the Warriors. I don’t think the Warriors will mess with anything they have, and they’re in the perfect situation, but if they decided to cash in the (James) Wiseman chip for a big guy who fits in from a hoops IQ, kind of add something, standpoint — Sabonis or (Myles) Turner, both of those guys, in different ways, would be really fun for them.”

Myles Turner is also a front court player for the Pacers. Though not as statistically talented as Sabonis, Turner has averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds over the course of his career, per Basketball Reference. His truest value is as an athletic rim protector who boasts a career mark of 2.3 blocks per game.

While Turner and Sabonis are both assets, the two have struggled to find a consistent rhythm when on the floor together, which could provide some incentive for Indiana to search for a deal.

“If they can turn Wiseman into Myles Turner or Sabonis, and there’s other stuff in there, and they’re just upgrading that and they’re being like, ‘As much as we love Wiseman, this could actually lock down the title if we got one of those two guys,’ I still think that makes the most sense,” Simmons continued.

Are Warriors Willing to Part With Enough to Land Sabonis?

Steph Curry James Wiseman

GettySteph Curry congratulates James Wiseman after a dunk against the Sacramento Kings.

Wiseman, the second-year big man who played only three games during his collegiate career at Memphis, injured his MCL during the second half of last season and has not taken the floor for Golden State since. He was recently assigned to the team’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, along with Klay Thompson, indicating both are primed for a return to the active roster sooner than later.

While Wiseman hasn’t proven nearly what Sabonis has at the NBA level, it’s clear that the youthful project is a pure, even if raw, talent. He played in 39 games last season, starting 27 of them, and averaged 11.5 points per game while grabbing 5.8 rebounds and blocking 0.9 shots, per Basketball Reference.

Sabonis, who has been an All-Star selection in the Eastern Conference each of the previous two seasons, averaged 20.3 points per game last year while grabbing 9.5 rebounds. Those numbers have dipped slightly this season by approximately 3 points and 1 rebound per night.

Even with the slide in production and Wiseman’s upside potential, the Warriors would almost certainly have to part with more than just their young big man to land Sabonis. The most likely ask coming from the Pacers, or any potential trade partner interested in dealing an All-Star level player to Golden State, would take the form of explosive rookie Jonathan Kuminga. However, Simmons said that is, and should remain, a non-starter for the Warriors.

“I’m not trading Kuminga. He’s untouchable. I can’t believe I’m saying that,” Simmons said. “For the Sabonis-level guy, I’m not bringing (Kuminga) out. From the little stuff we’ve seen from him, the defensive ceiling, I am not trading that dude. Because we knew about the other stuff, but I wasn’t properly prepared for the defensive possibilities with him.”

One Move Might Put Dubs Over the Top, NBA Analyst Says

Steve Kerr Steph Curry

GettySteve Kerr talks to Steph Curry during a game against the Denver Nuggets.

Joining Simmons on Sunday’s podcast was Kevin O’Connor, a regular contributor to The Ringer.

While Simmons said Kuminga should remain off limits because of his upside potential — a view in line with what Warriors owner Joe Lacob has expressed since selecting the rookie with the 7th pick in this year’s NBA Draft — his co-host disagreed. O’Connor countered Simmons with the argument that the context of the league this season incentivizes making a move for the present.

“I think the Warriors are the clear favorite,” O’Connor said. “Because it is relatively wide open, this is the type of year where if you’re going to cash in some chips, you can increase your odds significantly to get into that championship race, or to really elevate your odds over the top of everyone else.”

“You say they won’t change it up, but if you’re getting a Sabonis, or you can integrate easily a high IQ player — somebody who knows how to pass the ball, somebody who knows how to play the game, he fits that warriors style as a big,” O’Connor continued. “Maybe you do cash in Wiseman and Kuminga and one other salary to make that work.”

The Warriors aren’t likely to make any major moves until they return their entire roster healthy and see what they have. Thompson is projected to be back around Christmas, if not before, with Wiseman expected to return even sooner.

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday, February 10.

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