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Perks Predicts: How could the Warriors fill out their remaining roster spots? (Part 1)
Part 1 of 2 | 15-Man Roster
As we sit here in August deep in the doldrums of the NBA offseason with the rest of the league patiently awaiting the faith of those, varyingly levels of disgruntled, stars who’ve requested trades in the likes of Damian Lillard and James Harden; the free agent signings have become scarcer and scarcer as the pool of available talent has all but dried up.
The Warriors in the meantime have already made their big splash this summer in acquiring former Dubs-nemesis, Chis Paul; in addition to picking up two promising rookies through the draft (Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis) and two veteran supplements (Dario Šarić and Cory Joseph) through free agency to their retooled, veteran-minded roster.
However, they still have a few moves left to make as we look toward training camp and how they will complete their roster ahead of the season in October.
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Taking inventory of the roster situation, the Warriors currently have 14 players under contract; made up of 13 standard guaranteed deals and 1 two-way contract. They additionally have 4 reported Exhibit 10 signings that have yet to be finalized as they are not allowed to sign those types of training camp deals until they have 14 standard deals (contracts without an Exhibit 9 attachment) on their roster.
Teams are allowed to roster up to 21 players in the off-season (up from 20 in the previous CBA) which will then have to be cut down to 15 players on standard deals (the 15-man roster) along with 3 additional two-way spots (up from 2 in the previous CBA).
The Warriors will be required to roster at least 14 players on standard deals heading into the regular season, but they are expected to keep that 15th spot on their roster open to start the season for financial reasons and added flexibility in both the buy-out market and any potential two-way conversions during the season.
A Two-Way (‘TW’) contract is a non-standard contract that players with less than 4 years of NBA service (outside of special circumstances) are allowed to sign. Players on a TW deal split time between the NBA and G League and are allowed to be active for up to 50 regular NBA season games (they cannot play in the post-season including both play-in and play-off games). TW players can be converted to a standard one-year minimum deal at the team's option or otherwise can exclusively negotiate a new contract with their team through an available exception (players on a TW, same as those on a standard deal, cannot negotiate with other teams while contracted). The TW salary which is 50% of the rookie minimum salary does not count against a team’s salary cap or is factored into luxury tax calculations.
Exhibit 10 (‘E10’) is an attachment to a standard contract that gives the team the option to convert that contract into a two-way deal ahead of the regular season or if the player is waived, they can be awarded a bonus for subsequently choosing to then sign a contract in the G League (‘GL’) and playing with that NBA team’s GL affiliate for at least two months. It’s the main tool NBA teams use to fill out their GL rosters as it allows them to offer a salary that is at least somewhat competitive to the overseas market. GL players all receive a flat salary, which last year was $40.5k, and will likely see a small increase this season. The E10 allows teams to more than double that with a bonus of up to $75k for this upcoming season.
Exhibit 9 (‘E9’) is another attachment to a standard contract that protects a team in the case a player incurs an injury during the pre-season or training camp. For example, if a player who signs a non-guaranteed one-year deal without the E9 were to suffer a season-ending injury during a pre-season game, the team would be on the hook for their entire salary even after waiving the player, regardless of their contract originally being non-guaranteed. The E9 attachment instead limits that to just a $15k injury-related payout when the contract is waived (up from $6k in the previous CBA). Generally, any players with a low chance of making a team’s opening night roster, including E10s, will have this attachment included in their contracts. However, teams are not allowed to sign a contract that includes an E9 with a player until they have 14 standard deals on their roster without it.
A ‘buy-out’ colloquially refers to when a player with a significant salary negotiates a release from their team where they give back a portion of their salary to their current team in order to facilitate their contractual release. The new CBA updated the rules regarding teams that are above the first tax apron, like the Warriors, signing players who have been bought out that season. Teams passed the first apron are prohibited from signing any players who have been released or ‘bought out’ from their contracts with a salary over the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception of $12.4M. Additionally, this rule only applies during the regular season and is not in effect during the off-season.
15-Man Roster Competition (14th Spot)
Ahead of the off-season, newly minted general manager Mike Dunleavy expressed the need to add veterans in free agency; coveting size, shooting, and two-way play. There were clear areas on the roster in need of addressing including the backup center, backup wing, and third point guard spots. The Warriors have already addressed two of those areas so far signing versatile big-man Dario Šarić to supplement Kevon Looney, as well as nabbing well-traveled Cory Joseph to act as an understudy behind Steph Curry and Chris Paul.
In addition to those three areas, they seemed to quietly be on the hunt for some bench scoring this summer to fill the void left by Jordan Poole’s departure, but missed out on all of their reported targets with Eric Gordon, Shake Milton, and Malik Beasley all signing with other playoff teams. However, they re-signed the promising Lester Quiñones to a two-way deal following his eye-popping performance in Summer League and the reporting around him seems to suggest that he is expected to receive significant consideration for the 14th spot and could be someone who could fill that bench-scoring void. Although it likely makes more sense from a team-control standpoint to start him on a two-way and then elevate him to the vacant 15th spot mid-season.
As they look to fill out what is essentially the last spot on their standard roster since they are expected to keep the 15th open, the one clear area of need would appear to be having a veteran wing behind Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga. Someone who could ideally play at both forward spots and offer some size and shooting akin to what NBA champion Otto Porter Jr. offered them a few seasons ago. Obviously, anyone they could get now won’t be in the pedigree of that kind of player, but as we set out to identify candidates, that’s the type of archetype worth keeping in mind. A professional, veteran wing, content with a limited bench role who can supplement their budding young rotation players and occasionally offer something off the bench here and there, ideally with a touch of scoring mixed in there.
While there has been some discussion among the fanbase about adding some more size to the roster, the messaging from the Warriors has been that they will look to address their frontcourt depth with a two-way spot so we will examine those candidates in Part 2.
Before diving into the candidates, I just want to get out of the way the higher profile veteran free agents I’m omitting from consideration as I believe they will receive more favorable offers in both salary and role than the Warriors could offer and/or because they don’t fit the profile of player that would interest them otherwise: Christian Wood, Kelly Oubre Jr., Bismack Biyombo, Blake Griffin, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Jaylen Nowell, Terence Davis, and Kendrick Nunn.
T.J. Warren (SF, 29, 6’8): Of the players currently available in free agency, Warren is by far the most intriguing. He is still only 29 and offers a unique skill with his ability to score at all three levels in the body of a big wing. He could potentially help address some of the concerns around the Warriors’ lack of bench scoring, without them needing to sacrifice any more size. The biggest question mark for him is obviously his health. After missing essential two years of basketball, he only appeared in 42 games last season with the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns posting his lowest minutes per game (16.4) since his rookie season. While his numbers across the board were down and he’ll never likely be close to the same player he once was, the Warriors have proven themselves to be a great rehabilitation spot for recovering players and Warren on a minimum deal, especially one not fully guaranteed, would be a risk worth taking a gamble on.
Terrence Ross (SG, 32, 6’6): Another interesting wing-scoring option to take a look at would be experienced veteran Terrence Ross who has been a thorn in the side of many teams for years. The high-flier is not the same player he once was and wasn’t the effective addition the Phoenix Suns had hoped for last summer when they picked him up from Orlando on a buyout, but he did still post a 36.8% 3-ball along with a close to career-high 53.2% EFG. Ross leaves a lot to desire defensively now, but all things considered would be a very sensible addition for the Warriors as a playable veteran wing who can stretch the floor and offer them some needed bench scoring at times.
Juan Toscano-Anderson (PF, 30, 6’6): Oakland’s own and Warriors fan favorite, Toscano-Anderson, was recently named among a group of free agents the Warriors will be working out this month and it’s easy to see why they’re giving him a second look. JTA was well regarded as a player in Golden State and was someone who not only fit their playstyle perfectly, but fit their ethos as an organization. While he had his shortcomings as a player and never quite was able to put together a reliable outside shot, his versatility as a defender, able to defend from the point of attack as well as act as a roaming free safety while having the ability to play make and set his teammates off the short role, made him a very capable Draymond Green understudy for a few seasons before he decided to test his luck elsewhere. The Warriors could do much worse than returning a familiar face, who would be more than content in a bench role as the type of stay-ready guy willing to come in at a moment’s notice to put his body on the line and make the right play. He would be the safest option for them to round out their roster if they don’t want to take a gamble on someone else and would likely accept a non-guaranteed deal.
Javonte Green (PF, 30, 6’5): The undrafted late-bloomer spent multiple years overseas playing in Germany, Italy, and Spain before getting an opportunity with the Boston Celtics and eventually breaking out for the Chicago Bulls during the 2021-22 season where he started in 45 games for them. As an undersized wing, Green has carved out a role through his infectious energy and versatility defensively being able to guard multiple positions, along well as his high-flying athlecism. While his third year with the Bulls saw a significant reduction in his playing time as he struggled with a knee injury requiring surgery, a healthy Green would be an interesting option for the Warriors on a training camp invite as a capable 3&D wing with something to prove.
Stanley Johnson (PF, 27, 6’6): The former top-10 pick has found a difficult time establishing himself as a mainstay in the NBA going through 6 organizations already in his 8-year career, but the hunger inside him has been evident and he’s shown a willingness to fight for a place every stop on the way. While he’s still most well known for his defense on LeBron James as a rookie in the 2016 playoffs, Johnson has recently had very productive stints both with the San Antonio Spurs last season and the Los Angeles Lakers the year before. His eFG% has steadily improved each year these last three seasons and he’s continued to mature and show more poise as a player. His defensively versatile, along with his relentless motor and tenacity would make him a valuable high-energy wing at the end of their bench who can be brought in when they need a jolt and would be well worthy of a look on at least a training camp invite.
Honorable Mentions: Danny Green, Will Barton, Rudy Gay^, Justice Winslow, Hamidou Diallo, KZ Okpala, Michael Carter-Williams*, Glenn Robinson III*, Tony Snell*, Louis King*, Trey Burke*, Kent Bazemore*, Dion Waiters*
^Rudy Gay: The Warriors are among a number of other teams who reportedly expressed interest in Gay after the Oklahoma City Thunder bought him out.
*Michael Carter-Williams, Glenn Robinson III, Tony Snell, Louis King, Trey Burke, Kent Bazemore, Dion Waiters: The Warriors have brought in a number of veteran free agents for workouts this summer as they evaluate free agents to fill out their training camp roster.
Danilo Gallinari (PF, 35, 6’10): The Washington Wizards currently have 16 players on guaranteed contracts and will need to waive or trade one of them to bring their roster into compliance. When Gallinari was thrown in as salary filler in the Kristaps Porziņģis trade, he seemed like an obvious candidate for that given his age and likely championship aspirations, however after early reports that a buyout was discussed, the noise on that has since cooled and it seems increasing likely that he might actually begin the season in Washington. But if that does in fact change, and he were to become available, he would be far and away the best addition the Warriors could make among what’s left on the market. While there are significant health concerns given his previously suffered ACL injury, especially at his age, if he’s even a fraction of what he was two seasons ago in Atlanta, he could be the Warriors' next successful rehabilitation story and a perfect fit on their roster as a big, floor-spacing wing well worthy of a flier on a minimum deal.
JaVale McGee (C, 35, 7’0): After acquiring Richaun Holmes, drafting Dereck Lively II, and re-signing Dwight Powell, the Dallas Mavericks find themselves with a logjam at center and are reportedly planning to stretch-and-waive McGee to reconfigure their roster construction. While the Warriors are likely more interested in adding a wing at this point and instead addressing their frontcourt depth at the two-way spots, when McGee hits the open market, given his previous experience in Golden State, it would be foolish to not at least throw out the possibility of a reunion. McGee could offer them some much-needed size both as a rim-deterrent and as a vertical lob threat. He’s familiar with their system and was someone who found a lot of success in it, rehabilitating his career in the Bay. Plus adding McGee would be an ode to the championship-era teams known for being stacked with a boatload of different playable big man Steve Kerr would plug and play on a need-basis.
Cedi Osman (SF, 28, 6’7): The San Antonio Spurs have a loaded roster of 18 players on guaranteed contracts and will need to waive or trade three of them to bring their roster into compliance. While at this point it's hard to pinpoint what direction they might go about doing so, one player who could potentially become available is Osman. The ex-Cavalier is someone the Warriors explored acquiring during the 2021 trade deadline and could once again make sense to take a look at if he were to hit the open market as a capable 3&D wing. Additionally, veterans Reggie Bullock or Doug McDermott might also find themselves on the chopping block in Texas whether alongside or in place of Osman, and would be worth consideration as well.
Honorable Mentions: Doug McDermott, Reggie Bullock, Davis Bertans, Daniel Theis, Khem Birch, Victor Oladipo*, Cam Payne
*Victor Oladipo: Warriors had a preliminary interest in Oladipo during the 2021 trade deadline.
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