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GSW Free Agent Targets 2: Wings
A series by Perks from @GSWReddit
This is a planned four part series by Perks from GSW Reddit. I’ve been bugging him to contribute to Dub Nation HQ for a while and he finally kindly agreed. - Eric
The series so far:
An earlier draft of Part 2 of this series has appeared on Reddit.
2021-22 Depth Chart
Kelly Oubre (UFA)
Kent Bazemore (UFA)
Justinian Jessup (Draft Rights)
Going into Free Agency, one of the biggest question marks for the Warriors will be what their wing depth looks like behind Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins. Given that Klay is returning from injury and will need to be eased back into action, the Warriors will be looking for a 6th/7th man caliber wing who could fill in as a starter temporarily at the beginning of the season until Klay is ready.
Damion Lee has a non-guaranteed contract for the 21/22 season, which partially guarantees for $500k on August 15th and fully guarantees in January. Given Lee's production and fit on this team relative to his value, it is likely he will be on the roster next season. Although the Warriors probably envision him more of as a deeper reserve than one of their first wing options off the bench.
Mychal Mulder similarly has a non-guaranteed contract for the 21/22 season that doesn't guarantee until January. He should stick with the team at least through training camp, but his odds of making the opening night roster are slim. Although he's had his moments during this past season, he's not consistent enough as a shooter or offers enough in other areas, and the Warriors should be able to find better options for his roster spot.
Kelly Oubre will be the big domino that falls first for the Warriors in free agency. Whether or not he returns, and if they can get any sort of assets out of him, will be determined by what sort of direction the Warriors approach the off-season with. Bob Myers has gone on record that paying $400M for their roster would exceed their spending limit, and if they were to retain Oubre at his expected base $15 million price tag, they would be well into that $400M limit. Even more so considering Oubre's camp thinks he can get a long-term deal at over $20 million annually and he's reportedly receiving interest from the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, and New York Knicks who all have cap space. All things considered, it's unlikely Oubre will be in a Warriors jersey next season.
Kent Bazemore is the other wing free agent who will be interesting to watch this offseason. Despite some of his shortcomings, he's a capable veteran 3&D who has a good relationship with Steph and Draymond on and off the court. The Warriors would like to bring him back, however, it seems that Bazemore is chasing after a multi-year deal in free agency and would only be willing to return to the Warriors if that was met.
Justinian Jessup, last year's second-round pick who spent the past season playing in Australia, is someone many Warriors fans have been curious about. The 23-year-old wing is a knockdown shooter, who had a solid season in the NBL, and finished Top-3 in Rookie of the Year voting. The expectation is that he will be a part of the Warriors’ Summer League team, however, him being involved with the Warriors any more than that next season is complicated by his NBL contract situation. He's under contract through the 2021-22 season, so the Warriors would have to buy him out, which would make it logistically challenging to put him on a two-way, so the Warriors would have to be willing to commit a 15-man roster spot to him, and they might not have one for him this season. Depending on how the draft and free agency turns out, Jessup might have a chance to make the team, but could very well be back in Australia for another season.
The wing positions are arguably the Warriors' biggest priority this off-season given their depth concerns and the uncertainty around Klay's health next season, so the Warriors should look to bring in one or two players who can be a significant part of the rotation.
So the Warriors will be looking for a wing who can knock down open shots and create some offense. Ideally, that player should also be a capable defender, a good passer, and some capable of comfortably playing within the flow of their offense.
There's an abundance of high-quality wing prospects (Moses Moody, Keon Johnson, Corey Kispert, Chris Duarte, Ziaire Williams, Trey Murphy III, etc.) the Warriors could choose from in this draft. Depending on what the Warriors plan to do with their picks they might look to address this need through the draft and will probably use at least one of their picks on a wing.
Regardless, the Warriors should consider bolstering their wing depth through one or two free agency additions. The best use of their MLE would probably be at this position since there are a number of quality wing options to choose from.
Tier 0 | Priced Out: Doug McDermott, Otto Porter Jr., Danny Green, Reggie Bullock, Furkan Korkmaz
These are all high-end quality players who will surely command more than the Warriors are able to pay. However, if anyone one of them were to become available, they are options that should be pursued.
Tier 1 | MLE: Torrey Craig, Wayne Ellington, James Ennis III, Tony Snell, Georges Niang
Craig has been a key cog for a talented Suns team and should have a robust market for his services after a number of impressive playoff performances. As a defensive specialist who can knock down an outside shot, he would be well worth the full MLE. Ellington had a great season on a tanking Detroit squad and is expected to leave for an opportunity on a playoff team. He's exactly the type of experienced, veteran sharpshooter the Warriors could make use of. Ennis is a capable veteran defender who can provide some offense. He is reportedly looking for a multi-year deal around the MLE in free agency. Snell fresh off the first 50/50/100 season in NBA history is a solid-enough, big 3&D who could be available around the MLE as some wing depth. Niang had a great season with the Jazz and should be looking to get some decent offers on the market. As a career 40% three-point shooter, he'd add some much-needed spacing off the bench.
Tier 2 | MLE-Minimum: Maurice Harkless, Sterling Brown, Ben McLemore, Trevor Ariza, J.J. Redick
Harkless isn't much of a shooter but is capable defensively. He's not the greatest fit for the Warriors, but if they strike out on other targets at least he's an experienced veteran they could bring into the mix. Brown had a career year on a bad Rockets team and would be an interesting floor-spacing pickup. McLemore isn't the most consistent and lacks defensively, but he can provide some shooting and should be relatively affordable. Ariza and Redick are both getting up there in age and didn't have the best of seasons. Redick would bring some much-needed shooting if he still has something left in the tank, and Ariza, a streakier shooter, would be a steady veteran defensive presence.
Tier 3 | Minimum: Wesley Matthews, E'Twaun Moore, Abdel Nader, Darius Miller, Glenn Robinson III
Matthews would be a serviceable addition at the minimum, but he has already expressed his desire to return to the Lakers. Moore and Nader have both found themselves buried a bit on a very wing-deep Suns team. They will both presumably look to move somewhere where they can have a more prominent role and could be sensible depth pieces for the Warriors. Miller and Robinson were both cut mid-season and are currently free agents. Warriors fans are well familiar with GR3, who had a solid season here, and if the Warriors strike out on their preferred options, he would be a decent enough last resort, at the very least as a training camp invite. Similarly with Miller, who is a veteran sharpshooter.
Tier 4 | Pass: Denzel Valentine, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, David Nwaba, Gary Clark
Valentine is the type of reclamation project the Warriors just don't have time for. Luwawu-Cabarrot isn't much of a shooter and wouldn't be enough of an upgrade over existing options. Ditto on Nwaba and Clark.
Non-Unrestricted Free Agents
A couple of non-Unrestricted Free Agents who might hit the market:
Hood struggled with injuries this past season and didn't really have an opportunity to impress in Toronto. It would be surprising to see them guarantee his contract. For the Warriors, Hood could be an interesting buy-low candidate. He's a veteran, career 37% 3-point shooter, with size, and he might even be available at the minimum depending on how much his value has plummeted, but more realistically he'll probably demand at least a chunk of the MLE.
McGruder could swing either way in getting his contract guaranteed by Detriot, but he infamously had a tiff with Klay Thompson earlier this year, and it's hard to see the Warriors trying to mend that bridge for a fringe-level wing.
Forbes is the pick of the lot here as he should be opting out after a great season in Milwaukee to cash in. It's possible the Warriors might be able to snag him with their MLE, but shooting in this league is a premium and we should expect Forbes to get better offers than that.
Dotson is someone the Warriors reportedly showed interest in previously. He had a relatively underwhelming season with Cleveland, and if waived, should be available around the minimum.
If Bembry and Bacon get waived, they should be around minimum-level, and probably not much of an upgrade on the Warriors' in-house options in Mulder and Jessup to be worth pursuing.
The wing market is strong, although the Warriors will more than likely have to make use of their MLE if they want to bring in a dependable rotational player. It's the position they should prioritize most, so they should plan to address it with the MLE. There aren't a lot of available guys that can create their own offense, but there are good shooters and defenders out there they could pick up.
Looking at where Bazemore fits into the market, his value projects to be around Tier 2/3, so the Warriors would be well served in trying to re-sign him on some sort of a multi-year deal at the Non-Bird that would suit both parties.
Ideal Target: Otto Porter Jr.
Porter would be a perfect addition for the Warriors as a big, 6’8 wing who has shot a career 40.2% from three. He would give them that ideal balance of size and shooting every team in the league covets. While defensively there’s some more to be desired with Porter, the Warriors just showed last season that they can turn subpar defenders who possess the right athletic tools, like Andrew Wiggins, into budding premier wing defenders, making it less of a concern for them. The biggest question will be whether or not Porter will be available for the Taxpayer MLE. Realistically his price range should be Non-Taxpayer MLE and above, but his extensive injury history (he’s only played 98 games in the last 3 seasons) might put off some teams.
Realistic MLE Addition: Wayne Ellington
A more attainable option would be Piston’s sharpshooter Ellington who just shot 42.2% from three this past season and is a career 38.2% shooter from outside. Ellington would give the Warriors a dependable veteran floor spacer they can plug in play in different lineups and give Steph Curry some more room to maneuver and an escape valve. You can never have too much shooting, and Ellington is one of the best marksmen out there that would within the Warriors’ price range.
Realistic Minimum Addition: E'Twaun Moore
If the Warriors miss out on their top targets or choose to use the MLE on another position, Moore would be a solid addition at the minimum level. He hasn’t played a lot for the Suns this season, but he’s a 38.8% shooter from behind the arc and would give the Warriors a veteran floor spacer and secondary ballhandler to improve their depth at a bargain price.
Buy-Low Candidate: Rodney Hood
Similarly to Porter, Hood would be an intriguing addition for the Warriors as a big, 6’8 wing who can score, play a little defense, and space the floor, shooting 36.7% from behind the arc in his career. It’s hard to project what Hood’s value will be in the market after a poor second half of the season with Toronto and only having played 76 games these past two seasons, but assuming the Raptors waive him as expected, he might be obtainable on a minimum deal looking to rehabilitate his value.
What are your thoughts on the wing position? Do you think there's any chance Oubre returns? What about Bazemore? Will Jessup make the jump to the NBA? Will the Warriors use either of their picks to draft a wing? Will they bring in a veteran? Will they use the MLE to do so? Or try to rummage the bargain bin for a minimum-level addition?
Author’s Note: For the purpose of this exercise, players like Nic Batum, P.J. Tucker, Rudy Gay, etc. have been classified as stretch-4s and will be featured in Part 3. This piece is more focused on players who primarily play as 2/3s.