In order to sign Andre Iguodala, the Golden State Warriors had to orchestrate a trade with the Utah Jazz. The trade ridded the team of the bloated contracts of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson, but it also sent away Brandon Rush, first-round picks in 2014 and 2017, and two second-round picks.
It was a lot to give up, but the trade gave the Warriors a great opportunity to improve the team. The question now is what will happen with the center position. Andrew Bogut is the obvious starter, but, due to his injury history, it will be important to have a solid backup.
The problem with that is Festus Ezeli, a second-year player, had surgery on his right knee that will keep him out anywhere from six-to-nine months. Ezeli started for a good portion of last season while Bogut rehabbed his ankle. He is still very raw offensively, but he was able to contribute by playing solid defense and working for tough rebounds.
Other than Bogut and Ezeli, there are no other “true” centers on the roster, as Jermaine O’Neal is more of a power forward. Biedrins, who was overpaid and afraid to shoot, didn’t offer much help when he was in the game. However, he was a body that could clog the lane and he often gave the other centers some much needed rest.
The Warriors were able to make the playoffs without great play from a center; the offense ran mostly through players like Curry and David Lee. But, when the playoffs started, having a capable center was very important. Bogut was able to body big men like JaVale McGee and Tim Duncan by himself, which allowed the Warriors to focus on shutting down other players.
A healthy Bogut is a great option at center, but he can’t be expected to play the whole game. With Ezeli out, the Warriors are going to have to use Lee and O’Neal in that spot. At this point, the biggest battle for centers will be getting another one on the team.
The Warriors are also quite thin at power forward. After Lee, Draymond Green is the only real option. Last season, Carl Landry was able to come off the bench and help the team down low. His presence allowed the team to play “small ball,” meaning there was no center on the court.
According to Marcus Thompson, the trade with Utah gave the Warriors a few Traded Player Exceptions (TPEs). If a team has a contract they would like to get rid of, they could send him to the Warriors, who would take on that player’s salary. This is of they don’t want O’Neal to play center.
Thompson says it is possible, but unlikely, for the Warriors to get a free agent through a Traded Player Exception. This is because it would require another team to sign the free agent and then give him to the Warriors without receiving anything in return.
The lack of depth at center is the most pressing worry for the team. Unless something unexpected happens, the Bogut will be the starter and any new additions will be fighting Ezeli for the backup spot once he comes back from his injury.