Warriors

Smailagic's roster spot with Warriors warrants questioning

Warriors

When the Warriors lost James Wiseman in April after he tore his right meniscus, there was a question of who was going to step up in his place.

Would the Warriors sign another big? Just work with what they already have? My Dubs Talk Podcast co-host, Grant Liffmann, and I had a 10-minute conversation about their options back then, and after the 10 minutes was up, Liffmann pointed out that we had yet to mention Alen Smailagic. 

Now, here we are nearly a month after we had that conversation, and the Warriors have an even slimmer rotation, particularly in the frontcourt. But our position hasn't changed: Smailagic isn't in the position to fill any of the holes Golden State has. 

So this begs the question: why is Smailagic still taking up a roster spot?

First, let's break down what the Warriors rotation currently looks like. 

Klay Thompson and Wiseman are out for the season. Eric Paschall is still recovering from his hip injury while Kelly Oubre reportedly has a torn ligament in his left wrist and a fracture on the palm and is out indefinitely.

Damion Lee is in the NBA's health and safety protocols. And Smailagic, as well as Nico Mannion, have been deemed unusable during the final stretch of the season. That leaves Golden State with an eight-man rotation, and it's clearly wearing on them. 

 

Before this wave of injuries, the Warriors were playing an 11-man rotation. That means there are two spots Steve Kerr has decided not to fill.

Mannion could be an option to play in certain situations if the Warriors just wanted another able body on the floor. But he's on a two-way contract, and the Warriors are at the point where they want to avoid using inexperience. And that makes sense. 

The same reason is part of why Smailagic hasn't seen any playing time recently. But them not playing Smailagic started long before this point of the season. He's played a total of 51 minutes through 12 games this season, averaging 4.3 per night, essentially all during garbage time. 

So, again, this highlights the question of why is Smailagic on the full active roster?

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One of the reasons why the Warriors haven't filled either of their vacant roster spots is because of the luxury tax, which multiplies every dollar the Warriors spend on salary.

That's why they didn't give Gary Payton II another 10-day contract or sign him for the rest of the season, despite him adding much-needed help defending the perimeter and impressing the team. 

But if it's about money, and not wanting to spend more than needed, why not swap out Smailagic's contract for one that the Warriors need and will use? 

At the end of the day, though, this comes down to the development of a player the Warriors moved up in the draft to select. 

Between Wiseman, Mannion and Jordan Poole, the Warriors already have a lot of developmental projects they will be investing time and money in, so when it comes to Smailagic, Golden State needs to decide if they truly want to invest in him as well. 

If the answer is no -- which is what it's been all season long -- then it's time to cut him and find someone who will have an immediate impact on the team.

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