Warriors Advised to Target 7x All-Star Big Man in Free Agency

LaMarcus Aldridge Nets-Wolves

Getty Brooklyn Nets big man LaMarcus Aldridge handles the ball during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Golden State Warriors are in need of a new big man and some veteran leadership, and could find both in one accomplished free agent.

The Warriors lost backup big man Nemanja Bjelica and veteran Andre Iguodala, a pair who played important roles without making a major impact on the court. Sam Esfandiari, a Warriors reporter and podcaster, suggested that seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge could be a good fit to fill some of the void from their departures.

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Aldridge Could Be a Fit in the Bay

As Esfandiari noted, Aldridge could fit in with a Warriors team in need of skilled big men. The team lost Bjelica, who opted to return to Turkey to play in his former team. During the season, Bjelica backed up starter Kevon Looney and brought a scoring touch off the bench. Aldridge could replicate what Bjelica and fellow big man Otto Porter Jr. brought to the Warriors. Bjelica hit 36.2% of his 3-pointers for Golden State last season, and Aldridge is a career 32% shooter from behind the arc.

Aldridge could also provide some of the leadership that Iguodala brought. Aldridge’s San Antonio Spurs teammates noted that he grew to be a strong leader around the 2013 season and was a key part of the locker room after that.

“Since Day One in training camp he’s been more vocal,” teammate Nicolas Batum told Yahoo Sports. “He’s the captain of the team. He knows what he has to do to bring this team back to the playoffs. He is more vocal in practice and off the court.”

While Bjelica has already decided to return to his native Europe, Iguodala has not made a decision about his future. One Western Conference executive told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney that Warriors coach Steve Kerr could offer a unique role to Iguodala if he chooses to return.

“Those two get along very well, they understand each other. I think Steve would be OK with Andre doing the Udonis Haslem thing where he is playing but not playing, just a coach in uniform,” the executive said.

Warriors Lose Some Key Pieces

The Warriors have lost some other key members of their title-winning team. Defensive specialist Gary Payton II signed a three-year, $28-million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, a contract considered outside of Golden State’s range given their luxury tax bill.

Payton’s departure was difficult on some members of the Warriors. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reported that some were unhappy with the decision not to keep him.

“The difference in the tax penalty — somewhere around $15 million extra in the immediate, a whole lot more throughout a longer-term deal — caused [owner Joe] Lacob and the Warriors to balk,” Slater reported. “It stung several in the organization, per sources. They’d found Payton and grown to not only love the person but also understand the value of his unique skill set. It translated to winning. For the first time, they’d failed to retain one of their own due to an unwillingness to meet a financial demand.”

The Warriors did bring back some key members of the team as well, bringing big man Kevon Looney back on a three-year, $25.5 million deal.

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