As anyone who avidly watched the Warriors last season can attest, finding capable backups at the guard and center positions are an absolute must. The Warriors believed they had bolstered their bleak guard rotation last season with the acquisitions of Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford, but those were merely quick fixes and not long-term solutions.
With Blake being a free agent and the Warriors likely to let Crawford walk, the guard spot is once again a looming issue, one that experts such as the Bay Area Sports Guy Steve Berman and Bleacher Report's own Grant Hughes acknowledged in a Warriors roundtable at Warriors.com.
It’s not just the backcourt where the Warriors have issues, though. There is a strong possibility that Jermaine O’Neal retires this offseason, and if he doesn’t, free agency could impede his return back to the Warriors. Marreese Speights was brought in last season on a three-year contract, but he proved to be a lackluster pickup.
While he was heralded for his toughness and shooting touch from the mid-range, there was not much of either to speak of during the season. He drifted farther and farther away from the basket as the season progressed and never really made much of an impact aside from a few big games in blowout victories.
Andrew Bogut is an absolute defensive menace when healthy, but the likelihood of him playing a full season is always in doubt. Festus Ezeli missed all of last season and should be healthy going forward, but he is still extremely raw and can’t be expected to shoulder the load should Bogut falter.
The Warriors are in a pickle and must act if they want to build on the last two seasons.
Fortunately for the Warriors, there is plenty of talent to be had through free agency, much of which can come on the cheap. With the looming extensions of Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green rapidly approaching, cheap is the route they must go.
I wrote in detail here about a few options at the guard position who could help solidify the rotation so we won’t beat a dead horse with a stick. Guys like Kirk Hinrich and Shaun Livingston can be had for reasonable prices should the Warriors choose to go that direction.
In regards to strengthening the center position, there is a glut of talent the Warriors can pursue but only a few would truly fit their system.
While Josh McRoberts technically checks in as a power forward, the NBA has become a mix-and-match league and he can play the center position in doses. For the Warriors, having big men with elite passing skills isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Much of their offense is predicated around the big guys finding shooters from the post position. This is one of the many reasons Speights just never fit in.
During his time with the Charlotte Bobcats—now Hornets—McRoberts established himself as one of the preeminent passing big men in the game. For a man his size to average 4.3 assists is absolutely unheard of. The only frontcourt players to top him were Kevin Love and Joakim Noah.
That’s some elite company.
His talents would be a perfect fit with the free-flowing offense the Warriors are known for.
Another intriguing option the Warriors could pursue is Spencer Hawes. While he didn’t put up the gaudy passing numbers that McRoberts did, his all-around game stands out a bit more. Averages of 13.2 points per game, 8.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists are more than satisfactory.
With Bogut being so prone to injury and Ezeli not quite ready for big-time minutes, Hawes is a guy that can adequately fill in whenever the need arrives.
One more guy the Warriors could give a long look to would be Channing Frye. Frye will never be known for his passing ability, but when it comes to long-range shooting, few big men do it better than Frye.
Steve Kerr has stated in the past that he would love to bring in a stretch 4 to boost an already deadly shooting attack. Look no further than Frye. It probably doesn’t hurt that Andre Iguodala is actively campaigning for him either, courtesy of Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News:
"I've talked to Channing a few times," Iguodala told Sirius XM on Thursday. "I told him how great the Bay was. I told him how his family would enjoy it. I know his family well. My family knows his family, so it wouldn't be strangers. I would take care of him. If he needed a room, I got an extra room for him.
"I like to pass a lot. I passed to Channing a lot in college, so Channing knows that he'll be able to shoot the rock."
That’s as ringing an endorsement as you’ll ever get.
What’s clear is that the Warriors have plenty of options. What’s unclear is which of those options the Warriors will choose. With the Kevin Love saga still not completely over, anything can happen. The first domino that falls could very well be what shapes the rest of the moves the Warriors make this offseason.
Until that first move happens, however, all we can do is watch and wait.