Rookie center Dewayne Dedmon almost made the Warriors’ opening night roster after a solid training camp showing. So when back-up center Jermaine O’Neal went down with an injury, it was a no-brainer where the Warriors would turn for a stop gap on the frontline.
Golden State signed Dedmon, who was on their NBA Development League roster, to a contract Monday and he will be in uniform tonight as the Utah Jazz host Golden State. The Warriors were down to two centers, Andrew Bogut and little-used rookie Ogjnen Kuzmic, once O’Neal joined center Festus Ezeli on the shelf.
O’Neal went down early in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win over the Jazz. He slipped in the key and buckled, landing in the splits. He immediately grabbed for his right thigh. It didn’t look good.
But the team announced Monday morning an MRI revealed good news: O’Neal sustained just a bruised right knee and a minor right groin strain. He won’t play tonight but he isn’t expected to miss too long. He is officially listed as day-to-day.
In the meantime, Dedmon — who averaged 13.5 points and 12 rebounds in two preseason games with the Santa Cruz Warriors – gives the Warriors frontline some much-needed length. He is long and active, with a decent mid-range jumper. He and Kuzmic, Golden State hopes, can eat up enough minutes to prevent coach Mark Jackson from overworking Bogut.
Another option for the Warriors is using a power forward, David Lee or Marreese Speights at center.
Either way, Dedmon is going to get his second crack at sticking with Golden State. His contract is non-guaranteed, allowing the Warriors to release him any time. But Golden State doesn’t necessarily have to cut Dedmon even when O’Neal gets back as the Warriors kept an open roster spot entering the season.