The Ukiah Daily Journal

Warriors put on thinking caps regarding 15th roster spot

- By Madeline Kenney

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Warriors' multi-team deal that was held up by a failed physical has been finalized, but the work isn't quite finished yet for Bob Myers & Co.

Golden State has a 15th roster spot that could be filled for the final push in the season.

The Warriors improved their roster by reacquirin­g Gary Payton II and moving James Wiseman to the Detroit Pistons in a four-team deal.

It was a move that signaled Golden State's commitment to making the most of the dwindling time they have left with their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The deal also benefited both parties involved.

Wiseman has a chance to develop outside the bright spotlight that comes with being defending champions. Meanwhile, Payton comes back to the Bay, a place he never really intended to leave in the first place, and should provide a needed jolt on defense when he's healthy.

Those last three words are where the hangup is right now.

The Warriors traded for Payton with the hope that because he has familiarit­y with their system and personnel, he could make an immediate impact and help them climb the Western Conference ladder. But a physical revealed that he needs at least a month to rehab a core injury that may or may not stem from an offseason surgery to repair an abdominal muscle.

Adding a 15th player for insurance for the injuryplag­ued Warriors seems like the best call at this point.

The Warriors are 29-29 and on the fringe of making the playoffs at the All-star break — far below the expectatio­ns that were set for this team heading into its title defense.

Golden State limped into the All-star break and won't be fully healthy out of it when the team opens the final 24-game stretch of the regular season on Feb. 23. Stephen Curry is out indefinite­ly with a leg injury that damaged some ligaments in his knee. He's scheduled to be re-evaluated after the Allstar break, but is expected to miss games beyond it.

Curry said this week that he's in full rehab mode — much like Payton is — and isn't participat­ing in any oncourt activities.

The status of Andre Iguodala, who has played only three games this season and missed the past 16 with hip soreness, remains murky, too.

When everyone is healthy, Myers said he hopes the team has enough to make a playoff run, but he didn't rule out the team exploring its options in the buyout market.

Any decision the Warriors would make, though, would be in collaborat­ion with coach Steve Kerr and his staff.

“It's also determinin­g how the coaches will use that player,” Myers said. “For us to say, `Here's a big guy,' and the coaching staff to say, `We're not playing that guy,' it doesn't matter if he's 7 feet tall or 8 feet tall.

“Any buyout conversati­on has to be done in collaborat­ion with the coaching staff, because why bring a player in if they're not going to use him?

“But if there's a player the coaching staff and the front office thinks can be helpful, absolutely. We'll go target that guy.”

Kerr previously said he thinks the buyout market is “overblown.”

“Usually, it's just hard to find someone who's going to make a big impact,” he said.

The Warriors are once again facing a “big” problem on its current roster. With Wiseman out of the picture, Golden State doesn't have a player taller than Kevon Looney, who is 6-foot-9.

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