The Golden State Warriors are quietly open for business ahead of the NBA's Feb. 8 trade deadline.
With the league's best winning percentage and net efficiency rating, they're in no need of any dramatic dealing. But they do have a surplus of centers, which could withstand the loss of one to either bring back a draft pick, bulk up the backcourt or improve flexibility by opening a roster spot.
They also have two likely names on the chopping block.
The first is high-energy (and fan-favorite) reserve JaVale McGee, who isn't seeing the floor every night and is logging a career-low 8.3 minutes when he does. The veteran high-flyer is unhappy with both his floor time and his minimum salary, per the Athletic's Marcus Thompson II, and has been mentioned in trade talks already.
The other is third-year big man Kevon Looney, who also floats in and out the rotation and rarely sees substantial minutes. His future might appear attractive to some, as he has yet to celebrate his 22nd birthday. But the Dubs previously signaled he wasn't a part of their long-term vision when they declined to exercise his 2018-19 team option.
Golden State could ship out either fringe rotation player without hitting any turbulence, and they might see value in a deal like the following possibilities.
McGee To Milwaukee
Golden State Warriors Receive: 2020 second-round pick
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: JaVale McGee
Even with MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo shy of his 24th birthday and 22-year-old Jabari Parker mending an ACL tear, Milwaukee has operated with urgency. Snatching Eric Bledsoe for a future first-rounder was a win-now move, and the Bucks are "determined" to make another up front, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
This might feel like unnecessary rushing to some, but it's hard to stay patient when Thon Maker is doing more sinking than swimming and John Henson is being so John Henson-y.
Bucks centers rank 28th in rebounding and dead last in scoring, per HoopsStats.com. The situation is bleak enough to make McGee look like a (relative) difference-maker, even as he's struggling to defend away from the basket and having his efficiency numbers inflated by basketball's best offensive machine.
Milwaukee and Golden State have talked shop regarding a center trade, per Thompson. The discussions have involved inquires about more than McGee—Zaza Pachulia and Jordan Bell both were mentioned, with the latter being rapidly shot down—but he'd be the easiest and cheapest to move.
McGee also meets some of the Bucks' basic needs. He'd be a devastating pick-and-roll partner for the team's multiple trigger men, and his bouncy seven-foot frame might make for a suitable anchor on a defense ranked 23rd in efficiency and tied for 22nd in opponents' restricted-area field goals.
Golden State only walks away with a second-rounder that's multiple years away from conveying. But tack on the options created by having an open roster spot, and the Dubs could easily envision more value in that than in someone who doesn't step inside the lines some nights.
Bucks Add The Other Big
Golden State Warriors Receive: Rashad Vaughn
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Kevon Looney
The paths of Looney and Rashad Vaughn crossed at the 2014 McDonald's All-American Game and again in the 2015 draft, when Vaughn went 17th and Looney was snatched 13 picks later. They will unexpectedly intertwine a third time on the upcoming free-agent market, as Vaughn also saw his 2018-19 option declined.
Neither has gained traction with the clubs that drafted them. But maybe a change of scenery would help each find his footing.
Looney wouldn't give the Bucks as much bounce as McGee, but the Milwaukee native's activity on the glass must be attractive with the Bucks sitting 29th in offensive rebounding percentage and 27th overall on the glass. Plus, his superior basketball IQ and versatility would make him easier to plug in as a low-maintenance complementary piece.
Vaughn's appeal to Golden State is more about what he could become than who he's been so far. He has never approached a league-average player efficiency rating (this season's 12.2 is by far his closest), and his career marks are forgettable even when stretched out to the per-36-minute scale: 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
But go back to this 2015 scouting report from Jonathan Givony, then with DraftExpress, and see if Vaughn sounds like a low-cost gamble worth taking:
"Vaughn can make shots in a variety of ways, be it with his feet set or off the dribble, coming off screens, pulling up out of isos, and on the pick-and-roll. He has excellent mechanics, and is very reliable in catch-and-shoot situations, sporting range out to the NBA line, and making 38 percent of his three-pointers as a freshman, on a very high volume of attempts. At the bare minimum, he will be able to space the floor adequately at the NBA level, which has value in and of itself."
Vaughn isn't the most reliable marksman, but he's trending in the right direction. He has never shot a better percentage from the field (41.7) or outside (36.4), and he's also posting personal bests in three-point rate (.688), free-throw rate (.125), assist percentage (10.6) and turnover percentage (1.9).
Granted, it's all on a minuscule sample size (162 minutes across 16 outings), but maybe these are signs of maturing. He won't turn 22 until after the season, so it'd be foolish to think he's close to his ceiling.
The Bucks have largely looked elsewhere, but the Dubs could be more determined to use his quick-strike scoring. Their second team is light on snipers and self-sufficient scorers, ranking just 17th in reserve scoring, 30th in threes and 24th in three-point percentage. Anything that makes them less reliant on Nick Young discovering consistency or Patrick McCaw finding his stroke would be worth a look.
McGee Goes Back To D.C.
Golden State Warriors Receive: 2018 second-round pick (protected for selections 31-55)
Washington Wizards Receive: JaVale McGee
This won't be the most popular hypothetical deal for either fanbase, but hear out the arguments before napalming the comments section.
Yes, this does put McGee right back in the market where he hit his Shaqtin' A Fool peak. But he's not the blooper-reel regular he was back then and could be an intriguing option as a third center.
Washington doesn't have a pogo-stick center on the roster. Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith were never high-flyers, and Ian Mahinmi has been grounded by troublesome knees. All three bigs are below the 15th percentile of pick-and-roll screeners.
McGee, though, would instantly inject an element of vertical spacing into an offense built around high-powered drivers like John Wall and Bradley Beal. The last time McGee finished enough plays as a pick-and-roll screener to qualify (2015-16), he ranked in the 82nd percentile on a Dallas Mavericks team that struggled to find competent point guard play.
Washington doesn't have a glaring need at center, but that could increase McGee's appeal. He's best deployed in short, energetic bursts anyway, and there are insurance options for nights when his spotty awareness saps his effectiveness.
Besides, this would essentially get done for nothing more than a prorated minimum contract and a roster spot.
Now, is that enough for the Warriors to bite? It might have to be if they need to free up McGee's spot and add a third point guard or shooter from the waiver wire or a G League call-up.
As anemic as the return probably sounds, it could be realistic in this saturated market. Tons of teams have interior centers for sale, and very few clubs have them on their shopping list.
Looney Goes To Disney World
Golden State Warriors Receive: Arron Afflalo, 2020 second-round pick (from ORL, BRK or NYK)
Orlando Magic Receive: Kevon Looney
Remember Orlando's 8-4 start? At this point, it's best if no one does.
Since then, the Magic have flatlined, with a 4-25 stretch (71-loss pace) in which they've posted the Association's worst net rating (minus-10.3 points per 100 possessions).
That makes the number of veterans in head coach Frank Vogel's rotation alarming. It should also fuel this front office to sniff out deals that bring in low-cost youngsters and clear the way for on-hand prospects.
It's hard to tell how (or if) Looney would fit the long-term plans, but Orlando would have the next three months to figure that out. Assuming the Magic eventually move on from Nikola Vucevic or Bismack Biyombo (or both), they'll need more bigs behind Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac.
In the interim, Looney should have a chance to expand his wings. He's been funneled into a specialist role with Golden State, but there were whispers of a potential perimeter game in his DraftExpress scouting report. If he can increase his versatility, he might become a keeper for an Orlando team trying to modernize in the post-Dwight Howard era.
If the Dubs bite, they do it for the pick, which would wind up being the least favorable of the three mentioned. It's not a great asset, but with their eye for second-round talent and their next two second-rounders going elsewhere, it'd be a piece worth having if they're planning to let Looney walk anyway.
But don't discount the possibility of the Dubs transforming Afflalo back into a usable piece. He's never looked the part this season—career lows in PER (4.7) and true shooting percentage (49.1)—but in 2016-17, he striped 41.1 percent of his triples on a subpar Sacramento Kings attack. He was also once an effective multi-positional defender, although that part of his game might be past reviving.
Still, this is another way for the Warriors to extract value by moving an expendable piece.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachBuckleyNBA.