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Five free agents Warriors should target with $5.9M MLE

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Nicolas Batum against Warriors

Of the issues that nagged the Warriors last season, none was more plainly visible than lack of NBA size. They’d hoped to offset this with length, and sometimes they did, but they all too often looked like scrappy kids being manhandled.

They Warriors ranked 22nd in overall rebounding, 25th in contested rebounds, 27th in rebounding percentage, 29th in second-chance points and dead last in offensive rebounds. The most graphic illustration comes in their win/loss splits. Golden State was plus-4 in total rebounds in their 39 wins, minus-310 in their 33 losses.

It’s one thing to “go small,” quite another to have a roster that leaves little choice.

As the Warriors shop the free-agent market -- negotiations can begin Aug. 2 -- they’ve expressed a desire to add veterans capable of addressing obvious weaknesses.

Coach Steve Kerr: “If we can add a couple of vets, that would be great. During our five straight trips to The Finals we always had great veteran presence, and that matters.”

Team president Bob Myers was more specific: “Guys that maybe can stretch the floor, maybe a shooting big, maybe a play-making guard.”

The Warriors, according to league sources, plan to use their $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception on a veteran they can plug in for next season.

Here are five free agents, in alphabetical order, whose names should be in bold colors on Golden State’s Big Board:

Trevor Ariza

Though the well-traveled 6-foot-8, 215-pound wing turned 36 two weeks ago, Ariza still can be effective in a part-time role. He enjoys bringing defensive intensity, remains a capable 3-point shooter and his toughness is never in doubt. He proved last season with the Heat, where he started 27 games, that he still can be a valuable contributor.

 

Ariza is coming off a $12.8 million contract and might want to return to California, where he spent most of his youth.

Appeal level: 7 (on 1-10 scale)

Nicolas Batum

When Batum, 32, hit the market last offseason after making $120 million over five mostly disappointing years with the Hornets, the Warriors were among the suitors. He opted for the Clippers on a minimum deal ($2.5 million) and as a part-time starter revived his career, shooting 40.4 percent from distance.

RELATED: Kerr says Warriors tried hard to sign Batum

At 6-foot-8, 225-pounds, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Batum can defend multiple positions and make plays for others on offense. He thanked the Clippers for “giving me a chance to be a player again.” The Warriors are said to be interested, as they should be.

Appeal level: 9

Ed Davis

At 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, Davis is fearless, rugged and a terrific rebounder, particularly on the offensive end. He’s a willing screener and gets grimy on defense. He played sparingly last season in Minnesota, making $4.9 million, and reportedly is attracting interest from teams in Europe.

Davis has no real jump shot and won’t stretch the floor any more than, say, Zaza Pachulia.

Davis, 32, is largely one-dimensional, but that dimension addressed a glaring need for the Warriors.

Appeal level: 6

Robin Lopez

The Warriors previously have had internal discussions about Lopez, the 33-year-old 7-footer who made $7.3 million as a part-timer last season with the Wizards. He’s a natural center, a decent rebounder and uses solid footwork to pose a scoring threat in the paint; his hook shot might be the best in the league.

He shot 63.3 percent from the field last season, and only once in the last four seasons did Lopez shoot less than 53 percent. He was, according to Synergy Sports, the most efficient post-up player in the league.

Appeal level: 8

RELATED: 12 free agents Warriors could be interested in

Paul Millsap

A four-time All-Star destined for the Hall of Very Good, Millsap earned $10 million in his fourth and likely final season in Denver. Though the 6-foot-8, 250-pound power forward’s rebounding remains solid, his scoring has declined each season, as have his minutes. His shooting, however, has improved beyond respectable; he drained triples at 37.1 percent with the Nuggets.

Millsap, 36, is the only available free agent built to rebound and stretch the floor. He’s professional and selfless, and also has 129 games of postseason experience.

Appeal level: 9

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