Five Warriors buyout candidates who could help playoff push

Five Warriors buyout candidates who could help playoff push originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Glancing ahead to matchups they might see in the NBA playoffs, the Warriors finally seem willing to consider addressing an area they usually ignore.

They’re open to adding a veteran big man.

The last time they added such a player for the final two months of the regular season was in 2019, when they lured Andrew Bogut out of semi-retirement. He didn’t play big minutes, but there were times when he served a purpose.

With each of the top five teams in the Western Conference featuring at least one 7-footer, it behooves the Warriors to go shopping. They must, by Feb. 22, fill the roster spot created by trading point guard Cory Joseph last week and they seem satisfied with their current guards and wings.

As a second-apron team, Golden State can only sign someone whose original contract was less than $12.4 million.

Here are five big men – whose previous salaries could fit – who currently are NBA free agents or that could become free agents through buyouts:

Having spent the 2018-19 season with Golden State, Cousins knows the system. He’s 33, younger than Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. He’s 6-foot-10, 270 pounds and still has offensive skill, as he posted a 30-point game two weeks ago in Taiwan.

But Boogie’s left leg has endured surgeries to repair a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and a torn ACL, so his lack of mobility disallows effective defense in the paint. There is no chance of switching and not much rim protection. Then, too, Cousins, by most accounts, was not a seamless fit within the team’s culture.

Would the Warriors be interested? Not likely.

A two-time All-Star and four-time NBA rebounding champ, Drummond would have been an attractive candidate. Though not a great defender, he uses his 6-foot-11, 279-pound body well enough to avoid consistent exploitation.

There was discussion of trading Drummond a couple weeks ago, but the Bulls decided to make no significant move. Recent reports indicate Drummond, who at times shares the court with starting center Nikola Vucevic, likely will stay in Chicago as it pursues a berth in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

Would the Warriors be interested should the Bulls ultimately decide to buy out his contract? Very likely.

The former Stanford big man is 7-foot-1, 280 pounds and is willing to be physical. He’s also the kind of happy-go-lucky character, which endeared him to his many former teammates. He would be an easy fit in the Golden State locker room.

But RoLo, expected to be waived by the Kings, hasn’t been a consistent rotation player since 2022. He played only 65 minutes for the Bucks this season before being traded last week. He is, if nothing else, a 35-year-old big body who can bang with his fellow Percherons.

Would the Warriors take a peep if he’s bought out? Probably.

Otto Porter Jr. (anticipated buyout)

He was key member of Golden State’s 2022 championship squad. Signed to a one-year contract at the veterans’ minimum, Porter produced through scoring while also providing a presence in the paint. He earned a two-year contract with Toronto. He plays bigger than his 6-foot-8, 230-pound physique.

The Warriors, however, had to be careful with usage of Porter, whose left foot requires regular maintenance and rest. He missed 19 games in the regular season and three more in the postseason. He played only eight games in his first season with the Raptors and only 15 before being traded to Utah last week.

Would the Warriors consider the 30-year-old? Only if he could pass a physical, and there are serious doubts about that.

There was a time when Young, 6-foot-9, 235 pounds, was a double-double waiting to happen. As a limited-minutes reserve, he still can deliver – he surely did for the Raptors. A high-energy player that has spent his 16-year career in the paint, Young also is a great locker-room presence.

The Raptors traded Young, 35, because they’re going all-in on a rebuild. The Nets took him on as a secondary acquisition in a deal that landed veteran guard Dennis Schröder. Young played 23 games with Toronto – including 16 in a row as the trade deadline approached.

Are the Warriors interested? Possibly. No clear indication as of now, but that could change with market movement in the days to come.

With the market being subject to change in the coming hours and days, the Warriors conceivably could go beyond these five players.

But should they make the play-in tournament and reach the playoffs, there is no way they can avoid all the 7-footers, including Denver’s Nikola Jokić of the Nuggets, Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves, Ivica Zubać of the Clippers, Chet Holmgren of the Thunder, Jusuf Nurkić of the Suns, Jonas Valančiunas of the Pelicans.

This would seem to be the year in which the Warriors would benefit from adding a big man familiar with the rhythms and intensity of the NBA playoffs.

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