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Warriors to sign former top-five pick in Marquese Chriss reunion [report]

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The wheels of the Warriors’ salary cap maneuvering continue to chug along. Head coach Steve Kerr said on Wednesday that the team wouldn’t be signing any 10-day players before Thursday’s game against the Houston Rockets, after failing to re-sign Jeremy Pargo and Zach Norvell to second 10-day contracts.

“Because of tax purposes, we have to sort of stagger it a little bit,” Kerr said.

Still, the Warriors are expected to add at least one more 10-day player by this Sunday, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and it will be Marquese Chriss’ former Suns’ teammate and No. 4 overall pick from the 2016 NBA Draft (Chriss was No. 8), Dragan Bender.

Bender has had an absolutely woeful NBA career thus far, with career highs coming in his sophomore season when he averaged 6.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists on 38.6 percent shooting and 36.6 percent from three.

Chriss and Bender were part of that horrendous stretch of Suns draft picks following their selection of Devin Booker 13th overall in 2015. Chriss was traded from the Sacramento Kings to Phoenix for the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic and the 13th and 28th overall picks in the 2016 draft.

Bender’s performance with the Suns was so poor that they declined his fourth- and fifth-year options, something that’s almost unheard of. Since becoming a free agent at the start of this season, Bender, still 22 years old and standing at 7’0″, played seven games with the Milwaukee Bucks, and while his numbers were paltry (3.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 blocks) in 13 minutes a game, his shooting percentages were efficient at 47.6 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three (both career-bests).

If the Warriors can do anything like what they’ve done with Chriss, who went from being viewed as a true bust to now, a genuinely capable (and probably more than that) center at age 22, with Bender, they’ll have stolen another Suns top-10 pick and turned them into an at least serviceable NBA player.

That’s far from a certainty given how poor Bender’s career has gone, but he showed massive promise in the G-League this season with the Wisconsin Herdz, averaging 20.5 points (50.3 percent shooting and 37.8 percent from three), 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. Bender figures to be used as a stretch four who can shoot effectively from deep, but it’s his increased block and rebound numbers that provide cause for optimism for a player who was severely deficient on the defensive end.

Draymond Green said of Chriss earlier this season, and echoed it on Wednesday about Andrew Wiggins — “People never talk about the situation guys are in” — that sometimes it’s an organizational problem that holds players back. Bender came from that same wretched Suns situation and will now get a chance to play five games with the Warriors before they have to make a decision on a second 10-day contract.

“He’s been in some pretty tough situations,” Green said on October 17 of Chriss. “No one ever blames the situation, though. It’s always the kid. No one ever blames these shitty franchises. They always want to blame the kid. It’s not always the kid’s fault.”


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