5 Defensive Free Agents the Golden State Warriors Can Grab at a Bargain
Lost in the fold of the Golden State Warriors' debilitating 93-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves (debilitating for putting a severe thorn in the team's tanking movement) was the fact that the team is more than just a player away from contending.
Sure, if the team hits lottery gold and can fill their starting small forward position and grab a potential Rookie of the Year in either Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, they could presumably be one player away.
But the more likely scenario of them drafting in the middle of the lottery and grabbing a project (Baylor's Perry Jones III perhaps) or finding a rotation piece (Ohio State's Jared Sullinger) will leave this team in need of a talent upgrade.
This past offseason netted the Warriors their starting shooting guard for (at least) the near future in Klay Thompson along with productive bench pieces in Jeremy Tyler, Charles Jenkins, Brandon Rush and Dominic McGuire.
The Warriors don't need as many players this year, but if general manager Larry Riley can have half the offseason that he did last year, the Warriors playoff hopes should be greater than they've been since Baron Davis' departure.
Here's five players that Riley should have circled heading in to the summer.
5. Nazr Mohammed, Oklahoma City Thunder
Before you start your comment, hold on for one second. Yes, I am aware the team acquired former All-Star Andrew Bogut at the trade deadline.
But if this tanking movement has shown us anything it's this: Mark Jackson will have plenty of options to back up Bogut next season...but none of them appear that great.
Jeremy Tyler has shown signs of life down the stretch, but it's hard to count on him producing nightly. Andris Biedrins has been unreliable for years.
Unless the Warriors start next season tanking, it's unlikely Mickell Gladness or Mikki Moore will even be with the team.
Enter the 14-year veteran and former Kentucky Wildcat. His career numbers won't wow anyone (6.6 points and 5.2 rebounds) except for maybe the number seven (as in seven different teams during his career).
The Warriors should make that number eight as the 6'10", 250-lb bruiser could both bolster the defensive interior of the second unit, as well as help mentor the young Tyler.
Considering he turns 35 in September, Mohammed should be a cheap solution for next year.
4. Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs
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In his third year out of North Carolina, Green has finally had the type of season that scouts thought he could when he left as one of just four players in ACC history with at least 100 blocks and 100 three-pointers.
A waiver casualty in each of his first two seasons, Green has enjoyed a consistent home with the Spurs thanks in large part to the vacancy created by an early-season injury to Manu Ginobili.
Green is on pace to set career highs in all major categories (points, rebounds, blocks, steals, assists and minutes), but saying that is somewhat misleading considering his NBA career was a whopping 28 games before this year.
The lanky (6'6", 210 lbs) wing has become Gregg Popovich's starting shooting guard over the course of the year and could price himself out of Warriors' contention. But perhaps his limited basketball portfolio keeps his price tag reasonable and the Warriors can grab yet another versatile, defensive-minded guard/forward.
3. Ian Mahinmi, Dallas Mavericks
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Wouldn't it be nice if the Warriors actually grabbed another team's castoff project pick instead of vice versa?
Mahinmi was the 28th pick of the 2005 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs (as is their M.O.) stashed the athletic big man overseas before bringing him over to their D-League affiliate (Austin Toros) in 2007.
But after arriving stateside, Mahinmi struggled to see any significant minutes with the Spurs and headed to Dallas for the 2010-11 season. After experiencing more trouble seeing the floor last year, he finally got an opportunity when the Mavericks let Tyson Chandler walk as a free agent.
While he has not set the world on fire in Dallas, he has shown his worth as a capable bench option. He's been particularly valuable when Dallas has faced some of the behemoth front lines that the Western Conference brings.
He's teamed with former Warrior Brandan Wright to give the Mavericks a reliable option whether the teams is facing a quick athletic frontcourt (with Wright) or a big bruising frontcourt (with Mahinmi). Perhaps Jackson could use Tyler and Mahinmi as a similar center tandem or as the biggest reserve frontcourt the Warriors have seen in years.
Given his relative obscurity and brief NBA resume, Mahinmi should be a bargain.
2. Mickael Pietrus, Boston Celtics
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Call him Puma. Or Air France. Heck, keep it simple and just call him MP.
No matter the name, the former Warrior has proven to be an important cog on playoff teams (most notably during his tenure with the Orlando Magic, which included an NBA Finals appearance).
Some Warrior fans may cringe at the thought of Pietrus returning, as he used to be as consistent making poor decisions as he was showcasing his jaw-dropping athleticism.
But he is not the same player that both frustrated and amazed. He's an in-your-face defender and three-point threat (35.8 percent career).
Even the typically quick-to-criticize Charles Barkley has raved about Pietrus, calling him his second-favorite player in the NBA, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "He's great defensively and he loves guarding LeBron (James) and those guys," Barkley gushed. "He's a terrific three-point shooter and maybe the most underrated player in the NBA."
Thanks to a checkered injury history, Pietrus might have the type of price tag the Warriors can afford.
1. Kenyon Martin, Los Angeles Clippers
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At times in his career, Martin has been both an All-Star and a malcontent.
He's closer to a potential realized than a "what could have been" (although a series of injuries leaves that "what could have been" lingering).
For the Warriors, he's either Dominic McGuire with more size (6'9", 240 lbs.) and more talent, or perhaps a glimpse of what Ekpe Udoh's future could be.
Either way, he's deserving of a spot on next year's club.
But he's physical and tough, both areas that the Warriors could use.
He's also one of the more versatile defenders in the league. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro recently told the Associated Press that Martin "helps us anchor our defense because he can switch out at the end of games and guard guards...you don't have to double at all with him."
He'd be a good fit at any reasonable rate, but with his past issues, he could be a good fit at a great rate.