The Golden State Warriors are a team that goes 13 deep. That’s not merely because they have 13 quality rotation players, but because those are their only players. Instead of a full complement of 15 players, the franchise went into the season with just 13.
The main reason to do that was to save luxury tax payments for owner Joe Lacob, who is already footing a tremendously expensive bill to field this team of well-compensated stars. The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows a team to go into a season with just 13 players, starting a timer that can only last two weeks.
In the coming days, therefore, the Warriors literally have to sign a 14th player to a roster spot. It’s not immediately clear who that player should be. This roster truly is 13 players deep, and they have multiple options at every position.
Who should the Warriors sign?
It’s also not obvious which player to bring in, as the extra players they brought to training camp did little to suggest they deserve an NBA roster spot. Rudy Gay looked like a shell of his former self, while Rodney McGruder is not worth having around if he can’t shoot. Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa aren’t walking through that door.
The Warriors may just have caught a break, however, and strangely enough, it’s because of the James Harden trade. After months of posturing, threats and ultimatums, the Philadelphia 76ers finally traded their disgruntled guard to the LA Clippers on Monday night. The final trade resulted in seven players changing teams: Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev heading to Los Angeles, and four players heading back to Philadelphia.
The 76ers, however, did not come into the season with open roster spots as the Warriors did, and taking back an extra player meant that they had to cut someone. They chose to waive three-time champion Danny Green.
The 76ers’ trash might just be the Warriors’ treasure.
If the Warriors don’t have any pressing needs, then they should double down on the qualities in a player that are always valuable to a contending team: shooting, experience and defense. Sounds like an order for Danny Green.
The 6’6″ wing has been the perfect fit on a number of contending teams over the years, from the last era of the dynastic Spurs to the Bubble Lakers to the 2019 Toronto Raptors team that took down the injury-depleted Warriors in the NBA Finals. They are very familiar with his work, facing him in the playoffs in three different series.
Green, now 36 years old, is not the player he used to be. He shouldn’t be in the mix to start nor even be in the regular rotation. The Warriors should sign a player like Green because he’s an adult in the room who will always be ready. If Moses Moody gets into foul trouble or Gary Payton II rolls an ankle, Steve Kerr can toss Green into the game and not worry he’ll get jitters or make a dumb turnover.
Green will step onto the court, sprint to the corners, and knock down open shots. It’s what he does. For his career, Green is a 40 percent 3-point shooter on solid volume. He set the record for most made 3-pointers in a single NBA Finals series and held it until Stephen Curry broke it. He ranks ninth in career playoff 3-pointers on a list where Curry and Klay Thompson hold the top two spots.
If Steve Kerr wants an extra big to throw into the game if Kevon Looney or Dario Saric struggle with foul trouble, Green is obviously not the pick. If he wants another ball-handler as extra, extra point guard insurance, Green is not the guy. Given the current roster and how Kerr has operated in the past, neither of those seem very likely.
He is almost certainly looking for another wing, then, and Danny Green looks like the perfect fit. He’s got enough left in the tank to be the last man on the bench, and his shot is still pure. It would be fitting for Green to have a chance at one last ring with two of the other all-time shooters of his generation.
The Warriors should sign Danny Green as soon as he clears waivers and add another sniper to their arsenal.