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Perks on 2022 Warriors Potential Free Agent Targets; Day 1 open thread for news.
Specific names for specific needs
Apricot says: Perks from GSW Reddit has kindly returned to help us sort out the off-season. Parts originally appeared on Reddit. Perks can be found on Twitter as @gswcba. If you like all the details, don’t miss his detailed cap spreadsheet that’s regularly updated.
Current 2022-23 Depth Chart
Kevon Looney (UFA)
Gary Payton II (UFA)
Otto Porter Jr. (UFA)
Nemanja Bjelica (UFA)
Andre Iguodala (UFA)
Damion Lee (UFA)
Juan Toscano-Anderson (UFA)
The Warriors will enter free agency today with two goals in mind: re-sign Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II. Everything else is secondary. It might not happen right at the start of free agency as both players might have to wait and see what sort of offers they can get, but those will be the first two dominos that will fall for the Warriors in order to determine what their off-season will look like and how they have to address the roster.
The latest intel suggests that the Warriors are in the driver's seat for both players and as we covered in the Off-Season Primer they should hopefully be able to retain Looney and Payton II for something under a combined $17M assuming their markets will look like what we would expect them to. If they are able to do so, then the top-7 spots on their roster are solidified and they can turn their attention to filling out the remaining 2-3 spots with veterans to supplement their youth.
I want to begin by saying that I wrote this piece working with the assumption that there is, in fact, a limit to the Warriors' ridiculous spending and I'm believing that to be a $400M total roster cost (based on what Myers said ahead of the 2021 off-season and just my own perspective looking at roster construction and the financial side of things moving forward).
To put things into context, if the Warriors were to bring back Looney and GP2 for that combined $17M listed above and added two veteran minimums to their existing group of 10 guys (assuming Rollins will in fact be signed to the 15-man roster), they will be looking at a total roster cost of $399.5M for 14 players. Essentially what I'm saying is that I believe the Warriors' use of their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception ($6.5M) will be entirely dependent on if their top two free agents are re-signed or not. I cannot see them doing all three of keeping Looney, GP2, and using the MLE (whether on OPJ or someone else). Now it's possible I'm wrong, and underestimating the lengths Lacob will go to stack this roster with talent, but I needed some sort of baseline for this exercise, and to me, this is what seems like the most likely outcome in free agency.
Therefore I've split the available group of all at least somewhat realistically available free agents into 5-specific tiers.
Tier 0 are players I expect to command well over the TPMLE. Tier 1 are players I think could be had for the TPMLE and would only be pursued if Looney departed. Tier 2 are players that I think could be had for the TPMLE and would only be pursued if GP2 departed. Tier 3 are players I think will get offers above the minimum salary, but not so much above it that there isn't wiggle room for the Warriors to potentially talk them in to take a minimum and ring chase with them. Tier 4 are players who should be easily available for the minimum. And finally, Tier 5 are guys the Warriors probably pass on or at the most might consider for a training camp invite to compete for the most likely vacant 15th roster spot.
Let's get into it.
Tier 0 | Priced Out
Kyle Anderson, Thaddeus Young, Jusuf Nurkic, Mitchell Robinson, Tyus Jones, Mo Bamba, Bobby Portis, P.J. Tucker, Nic Batum, Patty Mills, Isaiah Hartenstein, Malik Monk, Ricky Rubio, Victor Oladipo
These are players that should be completely out of the Warriors' price range even in the case that they would be interested in using their Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. However, if any of them were to become available, they should be options to seriously consider.
Anderson, Young, Robinson, Nurkic, and Jones should all have robust markets on top of being prioritized to be retained by their current teams. Tucker, Portis, Batum, and Mills all had player options they declined this summer in order to receive a bigger deal either from their respective teams or on the market. Hartenstein, Monk, and Bamba are all fairly young players who just had great seasons and should be looking at near Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level money.
Rubio and Oladipo are both expected to have a number of suitors but are probably the two likeliest names in this tier of players who could drop into the Warrior's price range. However they're both ballhandlers and that's not the main priority for the Warriors heading into free agency, so even if they could be had for the TPMLE, the Warriors probably would go in a different direction.
Tier 1 | Kevon Looney Replacements
JaVale McGee, Chris Boucher, Thomas Bryant, Montrezl Harrell, Jalen Smith, Andre Drummond
In the surprising event that the Warriors are unable to retain Looney this summer, they should immediately turn their attention to addressing in free agency the gaping hole at center his departure would create. Especially given the fact that Wiseman's health is still unclear at this point and even more so, he's just a huge unknown on the court and they cannot enter next season with him as their only option to start. No Looney would mean that the Warriors should be willing to use all of their MLE in order to find a starting-level center of which there are some options.
Obviously, the Warriors' first calls should be to some players in Tier 0 like Hartenstein or Robinson to see if they can't just convince them to take less to come to a first-class contending organization, but assuming that doesn't work, JaVale McGee is probably a good place for them to start on this list. The former-Warrior and successful reclamation project has had quite the renaissance since leaving the Dubs and has found success everywhere he's been since so far whether in Los Angeles, Denver, or Phoenix. According to reports McGee should have plenty of suitors this summer including the Bucks, Mavericks, and Nets all of whom have the TPMLE available, as he searches for a multi-year deal. If they lose Looney, the Warriors should put themselves in that mix to try to get a starting center who already has experience in their complicated system.
Pivoting from McGee, another former Warrior who is an interesting name here Chris Boucher. The first-ever two-way contract in NBA history, Boucher spent much of his rookie season with the Warriors rehabbing from an ACL tear and would go on to sign for the Raptors where he's developed into a solid rotation player. Although he isn't the typical mold of a center, his shot-blocking and offensive versatility would make at the very least an intriguing option to have in the fold.
After the first two, Thomas Bryant is arguably the most intriguing name here for the Warriors. The big man is still young, only 24 years of age and although he found himself at times buried on Washington's depth chart behind Kristaps Porziņģis and Daniel Gafford, he is still a quality player and would provide the Warriors would a solid enough interior replacement for Looney and could still be developed and nurtured, especially with the guidance of big man whisperer Dejan Milojević.
It's difficult to cage what Montrezl Harrell's market is expected to look like since he had a bit of a tumultuous last year bouncing from Washington to Charlotte midseason and now currently dealing with some legal issues. However, Harrell should likely be available around the TPMLE price range and while he's not a perfect fit for the Warriors, as a bruising interior big man with a nice game around the basket, he would still give them a quality big at the center spot they could hopefully mold into a Warriors type of player if he's amenable to it.
After being buried on the Suns' depth chart and getting his rookie option declined, Jalen Smith was able to showcase what he was truly capable of and impressed during his short time with the Pacers who are expected to take a long look at bringing him back. While it's possible Smith might become available for the Warriors to have, given his age, fit, and inexperience, it's most likely the Warriors would pass here if presented the opportunity, but still something to at least kick the tires on.
After a difficult 20/21 season with a rough short Lakers tenure that saw Andre Drummond drop to a minimum-level player, he bounced back in a big way this past season and showed he can be a premier rotational big in the right situation. While Drummond isn't a perfect fit on this roster given his limitations on both sides of the ball, he's a big body who can inhale rebounds and offer the Warriors a physical interior presence.
Tier 2 | Gary Payton II Replacements
Gary Harris, T.J. Warren, Joe Ingles, Bruce Brown Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Okogie
After Looney's fate is decided the Warriors will turn their attention to bringing back their rugged defender and fan-favorite GP2. Hopefully, his market shouldn't be as robust as Looney's and he should be easier to retain since there are more quality wings out there than bigs, but in the situation that they're unable to do so, it will crucial for the Warriors to make use of their MLE in order to acquire an elite rotational wing to replace him. While Otto Porter Jr. is an option here as well, there are a number of other interesting candidates, including some that are more similar to Payton II as POA defenders to be considered.
Gary Harris is probably a good place to start. Since finding himself as the odd man out in Denver, Harris has been toiling away in Orlando as one of their few veterans although he is still only 27. All things considered, he actually had a good last season for the Magic where he shot the ball well and was a good locker room presence for them. While he should have a number of suitors, it's possible he would be available for the Warriors at the MLE and would be a very sensible pickup for them as a 3&D wing.
T.J. Warren who has been sidelined through injury for almost two straight seasons is a bit of an unknown at this point, but given the quality of a player he is, would still be a huge coup for the Warriors at the MLE. While he wouldn't necessarily be a replacement for Payton II, as a talented scoring wing, he would offer the Warriors a lethal offensive punch coming off the bench. The Celtics and Heat are said to be among the teams interested in obtaining him and the Warriors should tag themselves to that list as well.
Another player who struggled with injury this year was sharpshooter Joe Ingles. Ingles is someone who was rumored to the Warriors as a trade candidate last season and it's likely despite his significant injury, they would be interested yet again this off-season. Again, Ingles wouldn't be a straight GP2 replacement as he's not known for his defense, but as a sharp-shooter who can handle the ball and playmake, he would be a perfect fit on this Warriors roster stylistically.
If the Warriors are looking to find a like-for-like replacement for GP2, then look no further than Bruce Brown Jr. as the perfect option. The former Net essentially pioneered the extra-small-ball 5 on offense/defense POA role that Payton II occupied for the Warriors this year and while he doesn't necessarily possess the same level of athleticism, would be able to re-create what Gary did for the Dubs seamlessly. It remains to be seen what sort of market we can expect for Brown and presumably the Nets will be hard-pressed to lose him, but if available he'd be "the" GP2 replacement.
Moving through the final part of this tier we get to the last three options: Derrick Jones Jr., Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Okogie. Unlike the options above, these players have a bit less to offer and don't fit as well, but would still be at least interesting options to consider. Jones is a big, bouncy wing who could offer the Warriors some versatile defense. DiVincenzo is a bit smaller and less versatile defensively but could offer more offensive upside. Okogie the youngest of the group would offer the Warriors the POA defense they will look to replace, although he leaves a lot to be desired on the offensive end.
Tier 3 | Potential Ring Chasers
Mike Muscala, Robin Lopez, Dewayne Dedmon, Serge Ibaka, Bryn Forbes, Jeremy Lamb, Dennis Schröder, Goran Dragic, Austin Rivers, Delon Wright, Kemba Walker
Assuming the Warriors can keep hold of both Looney and Payton II, it can be expected that they would pass on using their MLE (or at least not all of it) and instead will try to fill out their final 2-3 roster spots with veteran minimums, and hopefully try to optimize those spots by enticing players who could get better offers (like OPJ last year), to take less with them.
There are a number of interesting names here, but I want to start with Muscala who was one of my targets for the Warriors last year when I did this series and someone I still think would be a great fit on this roster, especially on a minimum deal. Muscala is a sweet-shooting big who would provide the Warriors with a great stretch-5 to supplement Looney and Wiseman, and although he doesn't possess the same level of playmaking, he would essentially be an upgrade over bringing back Bjelica for the same price. While Muscala had his option declined by the youth-filled Thunder who were pressed for roster spots, he should still get some above minimum offers, so the Warriors would do well to convince him to come aboard for less.
If Muscala falls through, the Warriors have a couple of other options for veteran centers to add to their depth in Robin Lopez, Dewayne Dedmon, and Serge Ibaka. All three at one point or another have been players the Warriors have pursued and although some years have passed since then, they would still all be sensible additions if they can be convinced to take a minimum. Dedmon and Ibaka can both step out to the three-point line, which would offer the Warriors some nice spacing. Lopez has a solid around-the-basket game. All three can do things defensively to help protect the rim, as well as man the boards, and do all the other little things like box-out, set good screens for Steph, etc. While any of them would be solid adds, a quick order of preference for the Warriors might go Ibaka -> Lopez -> Dedmon.
The two wings on this list, Bryn Forbes and Jeremy Lamb, are both shooters who are quite limited in other areas, but on minimum deals would be solid enough additions to add to the Warriors' bench spacing.
While it's unlikely the Warriors will add a guard given the expectation Rollins will be their third point guard behind Poole, there are a number of intriguing ones who are worth considering at the least. Dennis Schröder isn't a great fit, but he's a quality backup point guard who can score and offer some POA defense. Goran Dragic is someone they kicked the tires on last season before they were sold on Poole and would be a solid fit as a third veteran guard behind him, but it seems likely he will be joining his Slovenian teammate Luka Doncic on the Mavericks. Austin Rivers is someone who seems to be rumored to the Warriors every off-season and as someone who could also play as an off-guard with Poole on the court would be a very sensible addition to their rotation. Delon Wright similarly is another bigger guard who can do things defensively and would play a specific role in the rotation. Lastly newly-bought out Kemba Walker is the last player for consideration here, but given his fit and generally decline over the years, seems likely a very unlikely union.
Tier 4 | Veteran Minimum Supplements
Hassan Whiteside, Bismack Biyombo, Gorgui Dieng, Dwight Howard, Tristan Thompson, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones, Frank Kaminsky, Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, Wayne Ellington, Carmelo Anthony, Rodney McGruder, Kent Bazemore, Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood, Wesley Matthews, DeAndre' Bembry, Jevon Carter, Raul Neto, Lou Williams
If the Warriors strike out on ring chasers, there's a number of bargain-bin players that should be there for them at the minimum who could be useful veteran additions. Although at a certain point the Warriors might just pivot to bringing back someone like Bjelica, Lee, or Toscano-Anderson over them.
Among the bigs, Whiteside, Biyombo, and Dieng are the most intriguing. Whiteside had quite the renaissance with the Jazz this past season and was one of the better backup bigs in the league. While his skill set and role would overlap a lot with what the Warriors ideally would want from Wiseman, given the uncertainty around Big Jim, it wouldn't necessarily hurt to have some insurance. Similarly, Biyombo who revitalized himself in Phoenix, and Dieng who can offer floor spacing, would be sensible options. Guys like Howard, Thompson, Griffin, Kaminsky, and former-Dubs Cousins and Jones are much less exciting, but would at least give some semblance of big man depth.
Moving to the wings, Morris who had quite an odd season with the Heat, is exactly the type of big shooting wing the Warriors could make the most of and would be a very solid minimum-level addition. Snell and Ellington could both provide some spacing. Anthony some scoring. McGruder, Matthews, Bembry, and Carter would all be serviceable defensive-mind additions. Warriors fan-favorite Kent Bazemore who shot himself in the foot last season with a career-hurting move to the Lakers could offer some depth, along with someone like Ben McLemore.
Finally, Neto and Williams are both very serviceable third-point guards who could offer Rollins a veteran presence.
Tier 5 | Pass/Training Camp Invites
Facundo Campazzo, Frank Jackson, Aaron Holiday, Troy Brown, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Elfrid Payton, Kevin Knox, Jarrett Culver, Josh Jackson, Avery Bradley, Ryan Arcidiacono, Ed Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, Trevor Ariza, Danuel House, Luke Kornet, Jake Layman, Isaac Bonga, Lance Stephenson Rajon Rondo, Isaiah Thomas, D.J. Augustin, James Johnson, DeAndre Jordan, Udonis Haslem
None of these guys are particularly intriguing and should be last resort options at best. Maybe the Warriors invite a few to training camp and see if they can find another reclamation project to get the most out of.