Back in March of the 2011-12 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors were looking to possible claim former Sacramento Kings forward J.J. Hickson. Assuming that they could bring in Hickson for the rest of the season for a cheap price, the Portland Trail Blazers instead claimed his services for the rest of the season.
Despite playing only 19 games for the Blazers last season, Hickson's stock quickly rose. After averaging only 4.7 points and 5.1 rebounds in his time with the Kings, he was given a major opportunity to play due to the injury of All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and averaged 15.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks a game for the Blazers. Now an unrestricted free agent, the Warriors hope to possibly add the former first-round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers to their roster for next season, but would he be worth using some or all of the mid-level exception to acquire him?
Adding Hickson would make some sense for the Warriors. With only a mid-level exception at their disposal (aside from a sign-and-trade deal), Hickson is an affordable player the team can add in the frontcourt. An athletic rebounder with an ability to score in the post, Hickson would give some added depth behind David Lee and Andrew Bogut off the bench.
Targeted by the Blazers, the Charlotte Bobcats, and several other teams, the Warriors will need to compete with others in order to sign Hickson. Viewed as the favorite to sign him according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Warriors are also considering Jordan Hill of the Los Angeles Lakers as a backup big man. The Warriors are also not ruling out bringing back Kwame Brown after his short run with the team prior to his season-ending torn chest muscle.
Ultimately, signing Hickson comes down to two factors. If the Warriors do see Hickson as their primary target in free agency and can get him without using up their entire mid-level exception, there could be some extra funds leftover to acquire another veteran or two to fill out the roster. This could potentially be used to sign a backup point guard, since the Warriors did not draft one and Stephen Curry is still a health concern.
Secondly, this free agency will be dictated by whether the team is content with Charles Jenkins as a backup to Curry or if they plan on bringing back Nate Robinson. With little depth at point guard, is it worth bringing in Hickson if the position would be a major concern for the entire season? Also, with the drafting of Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green, it is fair to say that depth at guard is more important than getting another capable big man in free agency.
Only time will tell if the Warriors are able to address all of their offseason needs during free agency.
Warriors Begin Talks for J.J. Hickson, ibabuzz.com
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Austin is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, lifelong basketball fan and Golden State Warriors supporter, and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow this contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.
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