With injuries pushing all three of their “traditional” centers out of action, it’s reasonable that the Warriors would race to the unemployment line and find someone to fill the void until the wounded recover.
If it were that simple, the Warriors might have made such a move on Sunday, shortly after James Wiseman was diagnosed with a sprained left wrist that is expected to sideline him for at least 10 days.
Finding someone now, after Kevon Looney sustained a left ankle sprain Tuesday that will force him to miss at least seven games – and maybe as many as 10 – comes with complications that make it unlikely the Warriors will sign a street free agent.
Anyone who signs would be inactive because the NBA mandates that all incoming free agents – such as Iman Shumpert of the Brooklyn Nets – submit six consecutive days of negative COVID-19 tests to receive clearance. If the Warriors were to sign a Tyson Chandler or a Thon Maker on Thursday, the absolute soonest he could play is Feb. 11.
There’s conditioning to consider, and for someone out of the NBA, it’s a big consideration. Moreover, it’s conceivable Wiseman will be back by Feb. 11, with Looney returning as soon as the following week.
Then there is the roster spot that would be sacrificed. Who goes?
Mychal Mulder? His contract is not guaranteed. He has been in and out of the rotation. It’s hard to imagine the Warriors giving up a designated shooter, despite inconsistencies, for a center who likely won’t be needed beyond this month.
Alen Smailagic? His contract is guaranteed, so they’d have to eat it. That won’t go down easy, particularly when the franchise has expressed giving him at least two years to develop. And if he were close to ready, the Warriors would have had his 6-foot-10 frame meet them in Dallas on Wednesday.
So, for now, it looks as if the Warriors will stay with what they have, as coach Steve Kerr indicated Tuesday night. A lot of small-ball lineups and center-by-committee, with Draymond Green, Eric Paschall and Juan Toscano-Anderson, none of whom stands taller than 6-foot-6.