Warriors sit idle as Free Agency opens with a bang
Plenty of movement on day one, Golden State waits to make their moves
The opening of the free agent signing period is like a fun holiday for NBA fans - only instead of running downstairs to open presents, it’s centered around hitting refresh to see what new trades Woj and Shams have announced.
Last night was no different. After the league sent a loud warning to the Milwaukee Bucks about tampering, everything started off slow. However, though we started off in a holding pattern like kids waiting for their parents to wake up before opening presents, the league delivered a flurry of transactions. But as players big and small found their way to their new (or old) homes, the Golden State Warriors sat dormant. It’s not nearly as fun, but the Warriors lack of early moves makes sense, given the context of where this team is, and how the trade market works.
What are the Warriors doing?
“NOTHING, THAT’S WHAT!”
Ok, look, I get that a lot of fans are eager to see General Manager Bob Myers bring in some additional pieces to plug the hole that Klay Thompson’s newest injury has punched into the Warriors roster. Rangy, athletic wing, Kelly Oubre is a good start, but without Thompson, the Warriors desperately need more outside shooting, and a deeper rotation. In other words, there’s a lot to do - so I get the angst.
Imagine that free agency is like a struck bell, ringing loudest at the outset and then dimming to a more subtle dénouement. So too goes the NBA transaction hierarchy.
The Warriors find themselves in an old position that may be jarring to recent followers of the team: this is not the “it” spot right now. There will be no veterans racing to come here at a discount to chase rings (shout out David West!!). There isn’t a large chunk of salary available, or undesirable players that the team is trying to move in order to reinvent themselves on the fly.
The team has two contract vehicles - three if you want to count the veteran minimum contracts available to everyone - but neither of these options is enough to pull in top tier free agents. So, as hard as it is to watch some of the names bandied about Warriors discussion boards find new homes, this is all part of the process that we knew was coming. Once the dust settles, expect Myers to be out their, looking for some leftovers.
Rest assured that the team is committed to win, rightly refusing to concede even a single, unlikely season of Stephen Curry’s prime basketball years. But the moves available, haven’t coalesced out of the ether of the NBA free agent market…yet.
Rachel Nichols @Rachel__NicholsKelly Oubre's salary is $14.4 million, but he'll cost the Warriors an extra $68 MILLION in luxury tax money, so...$82.4 million total. Oubre should help Golden State in the wake of Klay's injury, but is that much💰worth it for a player who doesn't push you into title contention? https://t.co/XLAI6M0HLk
What is the rest of the NBA doing?
First, let’s look at some of the names that were being floated out as potential fits with the Warriors, given their limited budgets and constraints.
Danilo Gallinari got $20 million per year; Joe Harris got a four-year, $75M deal; Malik Beasley got a four-year, $60-million deal; Justin Holiday is re-signing with the Indiana Pacers with a three-year deal worth just over $18 million.
In other words, all those guys are way out of the Warriors price range.
Otherwise, we mostly saw the good teams shore up the back end of their rotations, and some bad teams making bad moves.
The most perplexing team was also the busiest, as the Detroit Pistons showed up in Woj’s twitter feed early and often. Starting off with a head-scratcher they eagerly handed out a three-year, $41 million deal for backup center Mason Plumlee; the team also grabbed another center, Jahil Okofor on a minimum deal. But the real big one was Jerami Grant, who turned down a three-year, $60 million offer from the Nuggets in order to take on a bigger role in Detroit. And the kicker here is that they only got here because they waived and stretched the contracts of Rodney McGruder and Dewayne Dedmon.
So the Pistons spun their wheels, and ended up exactly where they were - a lower tier Eastern playoff hopeful with a lot redundant bigs.
Around the rest of the league, there were plenty of moves, but few (if any) earth-shaking deals.
The Lakers picked up what I think is a bad contract, handing defensive sieve Montrezl Harrell a two-year deal. It reforms the Lakers though (who lost Dwight Howard to Philly) has now added the Sixth Man of the Year (Harrell) and the runner-up for the award (Dennis Schröder) to go along with 3 and D wing, Wes Mathews. Not a bad haul for a capped out team.
The most complicated award will be handed out to this monster of a four-team deal: Steven Adams will be heading to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of a multi-team trade, expanding upon the previously agreed upon deal that sent Jrue Holiday from New Orleans to Milwaukee, for a package that will send future first-round and second-round picks back to Oklahoma City. The Thunder now own every other pick in perpetuity, until the NBA ceases to exist.
Some other noteworthy one:
The Los Angeles Clippers lost a couple of key rotation players. Along with Harrell’s move above, JaMychal Green has agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Denver Nuggets - where he will replaced the departed Grant.
Keep an eye on the Lakers as they work towards a deal with the Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic. It’s going to be tough to make it work, but this would be a major victory for LA if they can somehow pull it off.
The Heat got a great value in Moe Harkless' 1-year, $3.6M deal and seem to have the inside track on Kendrick Nunn and Jae Crowder.
Trevor Ariza has gone for a ride this week. After starting off with the Blazers, he has since been traded to the Rockets, who traded him to the Pistons, who traded him to the Thunder.
So… who is left for the Warriors?
The Warriors aren’t done, heck, they haven’t even started!
Most probable first: both Avery Bradley, and Glenn Robinson are still out there, at the Warriors price range (hopefully). The big needs right now in my opinion are secondary play makers, and wing defenders that can shoot. Generally this type of player commands a premium, but either of these two players could reasonably fall into the Warriors MLE or DPE.
Robinson’s courtmate last season, Alec Burkes just signed a very reasonable one-year deal with the Knicks for just $6million, so the price point for either of these two guys seems within range. It’s still not clear if the Warriors have applied for (or been granted) the DPE, which will offer a larger contract vehicle to play with. In the meantime though, the MLE is well in play. Though painfully expensive to use.
If you are hoping for another big man though, the well is running dry out there. Marc Gasol is the only reliable big man still unattached, and feels unlikely to settle for a year with Golden State.
Here’s where the Warriors’ depth chart stands currently, via ESPN:
Keep your heads up, Dub fans. Now that the initial flurry has passed, the Warriors are standing by. It’s easy to get mad about players they didn’t get, so try and remember that just because you read it on the internet, doesn’t that a certain player at a certain contract amount would have also been available to Golden State.
This isn’t an easy spot to be in, but the front office is working on it.