NBA Insider: The Warriors are no longer in the running for a top center

Klay Thompson and center Kevon Looney, John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Klay Thompson and center Kevon Looney, John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

It seems as though the Golden State Warriors are still looking to upgrade their roster ahead of the February 9th trade deadline. However, their most tradeable asset, James Wiseman, may be off the trading block. While Wiseman doesn’t hold much value on the court at the moment, his $10 million contract could be useful in helping the Warriors acquire a key rotation player to boost their championship odds.

Deciding not to trade Wisemen could be seen as a vote of confidence from the Warriors for their third-year player. Then again, they already tried unsuccessfully to trade him to the San Antonio Spurs in a deal for starting center Jakob Poeltl. Spurs insider LJ Ellis relayed that the Spurs had little interest in both Wiseman and even Jonathan Kuminga, making a deal between the two teams unlikely.

Losing out on Poeltl hurts for the Warriors.

That’s too bad for Golden State since Poeltl would have been a perfect fit. Poeltl, at 7’1 in shoes, is one of the tallest centers in the NBA, and he uses that height to dominate on the offensive glass and protect the rim.

While both of those skills were his calling cards early in his career, he’s been given the freedom in San Antonio to develop other skills. He’s a great screen setter and has excellent hands, allowing him to score effectively as the roll man in the pick and roll. He’s also developed a floater with range out to about 10 feet, allowing him to score away from the basket, and the Spurs have relied on him to be a playmaker at times.

He’s not dissimilar to Warriors starting center Kevon Looney, but he’s a clear upgrade on both ends of the floor. However, with teams such as the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors aggressively pursuing Poeltl, the Spurs don’t have to settle. In fact, they’re asking for two first-round picks, and it appears increasingly likely that they’ll receive that. The Warriors simply didn’t have the assets that the Spurs were looking for, and that’s a problem.

James Wiseman’s limited trade value presents a problem for the Warriors.

After the lowly Spurs rejected a trade involving the former No. 2 overall pick, the Warriors may have decided to remove Wiseman from the trade market after he failed to attract any interest. That’s not good, and if Wiseman is unable to crack the rotation and play well in the second half of this season or the playoffs, his already low trade value may fall even further.

Other teams may still be intrigued by Wiseman, who missed all of last season with an injury and whose development has been slow. Despite that, teams will need to see a lot more from Wiseman before agreeing to trade anything of value for him.

If he doesn’t, then he’ll be just an overpaid center, something the Warriors, who are deep in the luxury tax, really can’t afford to keep around. After all, the backup center role is often fairly easy to fill with players on veteran minimum contracts.

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Overall, the Warriors’ pursuit of a top center appears to have come to an end, but it raises questions about Wiseman’s future with the team. Golden State may still hold out hope that he’ll eventually live up to his significant potential, but time is running out for that to happen, and the win-now Warriors can only wait for so long.