The writing has been on the wall for quite a while. As the playoffs approached for the Golden State Warriors, Zaza Pachulia and David West started to see their minutes dwindle. In the NBA Finals, West played a mere 28 minutes; Pachulia played only six.
Then came the offseason. We knew the Warriors were going all in on young bigs Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, the only two center options under contract. We didn’t know how else they would shape out the frontcourt on their roster, and whether they’d return to Pachulia or West for veteran leadership and depth.
But then came the shocking news that the team had signed four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. And after that, the less-shocking, but mildly surprising news that Kevon Looney was available for the minimum. And finally, the out-of-nowhere news that the team would sign the recently-waived Jonas Jerebko.
And with those moves, it’s now time to say goodbye to Pachulia and West. The Warriors have five bigs under contract, plus Draymond Green. They’re moving away from traditional, large, near-the-basket bigs, and towards young, athletic 4s and 5s who can defend in space when switched in the pick and roll.
The reality is, West and Pachulia had no future with the way the Warriors are trending, or the way the league is trending, for that matter. Looney and Bell (and hopefully soon Jones) can hold their own when switched onto James Harden, Chris Paul, and LeBron James. Jerebko can space the floor and pull opposing bigs out to the three-point line. And Cousins can . . . well, he’s Cousins. He can do it all.
Pachulia and West were never flashy, but they played huge roles for Golden State. They brought toughness, rebounds, and veteran leadership to a young team. And in their two years in the Bay, they were rewarded with their first career championships, and then their second.
Godspeed, you two. And thanks for being Warriors.