Shorthanded Warriors May Be Forced To Suit Up Assistant Coach: Insider

Shorthanded Warriors May Be Forced To Suit Up Assistant Coach: Insider


Leandro Barbosa looks on during a game against the Boston Celtics.

The Golden State Warriors are ravaged by injury and illness, but one insider believes that the solution to their lack of depth may already be sitting on the bench — as an assistant coach.

After losing rookie center James Wiseman to a season-ending injury and days later losing two players for an extended stretch due to the league’s health and safety protocol, the Warriors are looking at facing a critical stretch with some big holes in the rotation. With just 10 players available for the latest game, one reporter believes the Warriors could end up turning to player-mentor coach Leandro Barbosa to round out the rotation in the time of need.

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Warriors Rotation Takes Hit

Both Kent Bazemore and Damion Lee are out for an extended stretch, with Lee reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 and Bazemore caught in the league’s health and safety protocol. The Warriors were still able to win on Friday against the Denver Nuggets, but had a bench of just 10 players and no room for error.

As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau noted, head coach Steve Kerr has floated the idea of turning to the 38-year-old former Warrior-turned-coach in Barbosa, who had more than a decade of experience in the NBA. Barbosa had a successful stint with the Warriors, and had turned in a strong season in a league in his native Brazil before joining Golden State’s coaching staff.

Kerr said that he was confident Barbosa would be able to perform well on a 10-day contract if the team decided to go that route.

“I’m dead serious when I say he could be very effective if we did that,” Kerr said, via the San Francisco Chronicle.

As the report noted, the Warriors still have one open spot on the 15-man roster, which was created at the trade deadline when the team dealt two reserves in exchange for cash considerations and the flexibility of roster openings.

Barbosa Stayed in Playing Shape

While it’s not clear if Barbosa could be taking the court this season, his basketball abilities were a main selling point to the team. When the Warriors announced his hire prior to the start of the season, Barbosa told ESPN’s Nick Friedell that he would be doing some hands-on coaching on the court.

“I will be on the court, on the practice facility,” Barbosa said. “I also will be practicing with the guys because I’m capable, I’m still in shape … I will be talking to the players, all the experience that I have over the years that I play on the NBA [stage], I think I have a chance to talk to them and make them understand what this business is all about.”

Letourneau added that Barbosa has stayed in playing shape since joining the coaching staff in September, meaning he could fill in if needed. Any help would likely be on a short time-frame, as Bazemore is expected to return from the league’s health and safety protocol in close to a week, with Lee returning not long afterward.

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