Damion Lee shows that there can be life after the Golden State Warriors
It rarely happens though hmmmmmmm....
It’s pretty tough to see the Golden State Warriors take a loss like they did to a Phoenix Suns team Tuesday night. But there was one silver lining to be found: Damion Lee has put in his bid to be one of the few ex-dynasty Warriors who thrived in a new situation.
Let’s just spam some love for Stephen Curry’s brother-in-law also known as the dude kicked our butt with 22 points in Phoenix’s win:
Great job D-Lee, even if it came in a jarring loss for the Warriors.
There are some success stories to be found for those ex-Dubs, like Kevin Durant! KD has bounced back from the horrendous Achilles’ tear he suffered trying to push the Warriors to a three-peat, looking like arguably the best version of himself ever as Brooklyn Net.
Did he get swept by the same Boston team that the Warriors broke in the NBA Finals? Absolutely, but KD is still a supreme factor in the league and the shining example of life after the Dubs.
And then there’s JaVale McGee, the only ex-Warrior to win a title after playing for the Warriors (I refuse to acknowledge Patrick McCaw the traitor). McGee was a journeyman fighting for a roster spot when he came to the Warriors in 2017, and quickly emerged as a fan-favorite over two title runs. He joined LeBron James with the Lakers to win the 2020 title as a quality reserve big.
But besides those two 7-footers, doesn’t it feel like most Dubs who leave the Golden Empire find themselves out in the dark, cold, badlands of the NBA landscape. Integral pieces of championship winning teams go from celebrating with Dub Nation at parades in Oakland and San Francisco to fading into obscurity with their new teams on expensive contracts.
The most recent examples would be Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II who went from journeymen, to key contributors for Golden State’s title run last season, to signing new nice new deals with new teams. Dub Nation was NOT pleased at the time.
Unfortunately those players have been spending more time on the trainer’s table than on the court for their new teams. I covered that recently on GP2’s ring night return, but since then the news has gotten even more grim.
What is it about leaving the Warriors that has such a great financial impact on the ex-Dubs but their careers never seem to shine so bright again?
HB aka the Black Falcon was a polarizing figure during his time in the Bay. The 7th overall pick in 2012, he was supposed to be the versatile two-way wing the Warriors needed to deal with the Kobe’s and LeBron’s of the NBA world. He won a championship in 2015 with the team and was a part of the 73-win squad in 2016.
The Dubs jettisoned him to make room for KEVIN FREAKIN’ DURANT (A+++ move), but there were still a lotta folks who had high hopes for HB as a Dallas Maverick alongside Dirk Nowitzki and eventually Luka Doncic. He signed a 4 year/$94 million dollar deal down in Big D. Annnd here’s an excerpt from the Mavs Money Ball discussing HB’s failures to lift Dallas as leading man:
The blunt truth is that the Mavericks were a bad team with Barnes as their best player. His fit as a lead guy, coming from being a role player on a championship team, was never the right one. He was maybe the most overpaid player in the NBA, garnering a max contract despite the Mavericks almost always being a worse team when he was on the floor.
The past season and a half, the Mavericks weren’t just better when Barnes hit the bench, they were considerably better. For a team that was as bad as Dallas was the last three seasons, it was remarkable how much better they played when Barnes wasn’t on the floor.
Meanwhile GSW would go on to terrorize the league with KD. Crazy enough there were a lot of people in Dub Nation wondering if All-Star Andrew Wiggins was better than HB, and that is the ultimate disrespect to Maple Jordan.
Mo Buckets is probably the greatest stretch big in the history of the Golden Empire (apologies to David West). He was an integral part of Golden State’s high-octane attack, coming off of the bench to deliver a scoring punch during his three seasons as a Warrior from 2014-2016.
He also snagged the key rebound that set up one of Stephen Curry’s greatest playoff shots of all time:
But when the Dubs moved on from him to make room for KD, he joined the Clippers at the age of 29. After that season, he played 52 games for the Orlando Magic and then never played in the NBA again despite being only 30 years old.
For those frustrated with the James Wiseman experiment, remember Damian Jones? This dude was Golden State’s starting center for 22 games during 2019, KD’s last season with the team. At the time people were pretty sure DJ was better than Kevon Looney!
After three injury riddled seasons with the Dubs (and two championships), Jones has bounced around the league from Atlanta, to Phoenix, to the Lakers, to Sacramento, to the Lakers again. Not exactly the dominant big the Dubs figured he’d pan out to be.
The grass isn’t golder on the other side
Remember back in the days when it felt like the Warriors could not retain quality players and their stars went on to have the zenith of their careers with other franchises? Robert Parish, Tim Hardaway, Chris Webber, Latrell Sprewell, Gilbert Arenas, all guys who balled out for somebody else after getting their start with the Dubs.
Oh, how the tides have changed. Leaving the Warriors is damn near a career-killer these days, which is why to this day I STILL can’t believe Duby Dub Dubs almost stabbed me because thought losing Kent Bazemore in the offseason was irrevelant.
Can you think of other former Splash Bro-era Warriors who have left and done big things, little things, or nothing at all? And will Damion Lee win the MVP this season? We DO know that he’s not winning a title this year though bwahahahahaahahaha!