Should the Golden State Warriors Pursue Pau Gasol?


Just one and a half months ago, the Golden State Warriors pushed the Los Angeles Clippers to 7 games in the opening round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. Warriors fans were left to imagine what could have been if the Warriors had their 7′ Aussie center, who missed the series due to broken ribs, been able to play.

Without Bogut anchoring the middle of the defense, the Warriors struggled to get stops against the explosive Clippers. After only allowing 99.5 points per game during the regular season, which was good enough for 11th best in the league, they gave up 110.9 points per game in the playoffs. With Festus Ezeli missing the entire 2013 campaign, the Warriors were left to guard Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan with Jermaine O’Neal, David Lee and Draymond Green.

The Warriors starting big men were outscored 252-154 in the opening round.

Given Bogut’s injury history, if you’re in a conference featuring big men tandems of Marc Gasol/Zach Randolph, LaMarcus Aldridge/Robin Lopez, and the aforementioned Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan, you can bet that Golden States’ front office is looking to add a piece in the front-court.

Is Pau Gasol be that piece?

The only way that the Warriors can afford Gasol is if he takes a pay cut. Gasol made $19 million last season, and while the 33-year old Spaniard won’t make that much from here on out, a player of his caliber could easily make $12-$14 million in the open market. The Warriors have $65.8 million in commitments for the 2014-2015 season, which leaves gives them between $11 and $12 million in flexibility before they hit the cap, and that’s if they don’t resign any of their own unrestricted free agents like Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford, both are expected to be playing elsewhere next season.

Gasol has already stated that he’s willing to take less money in order to have another chance at a title. He’s currently fielding calls from the Thunder, the Knicks, as well as the Bulls. While Pau isn’t the same player he was when he helped the Lakers win two championships, he’s still capable of being a very effective player. He runs the floor well and can play both the power forward and center positions, which would be key in case Bogut gets hurt. He’s a decent defender who has a very effective post-up game, and while he’s been questioned in the past for his toughness, it seems that he’s shed that label within the past few years.

The issue with the Warriors signing Gasol however is the fact that it leaves them with very little room to bolster their back court, which may be an area of greater need for the Warriors. Stephen Curry was in the top-10 in the NBA in terms of minutes player per-game, and when the playoffs came around, the toll of playing so many minutes was evident. The Warriors need a guard off the bench who can give Curry a rest throughout the game without too much of a dip in offensive efficiency.

Curry’s PER, which is a measure of a player’s per-minute production, was 24.1. Blake, Curry’s backup, had a PER of 9.4. I’d much rather see the Warriors go after a guy like Rodney Stuckey, Ramon Sessions or Shaun Livingston. Let’s also not forget that Curry is no stranger to injuries. If the Warriors went out and got Gasol, and Curry were to miss any time, they’d be left with Nemanja Nedovich manning the point. Yikes.

If Gasol chooses the Bay Area to be his home for the next few years, I’ll have nothing against it. He’d be a quality piece in a front-court that could use a player of his talent and versatility. Given the Warriors financial situation however, signing Gasol seems like a luxury move that the Warriors can’t afford to make. Most of Bogut’s injuries, including his broken ribs, have been of the freakish variety. Investing money in Gasol likely means there won’t be much money to be spent on a backup to Stephen Curry, which may be the bigger need.


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