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Perks Predicts: How could the Warriors fill out their remaining roster spots? (Part 2)
Part 2 of 2 | Two-Way Roster
In Part 1 we examined some potential candidates for the Warriors’ vacant 14 roster spot as they look to fill out their roster ahead of training camp.
Now we turn our attention to the two vacant two-way spots.
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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.
Two-Way Roster Competition
After the emerging Lester Quinoñes accepted his qualifying offer to return to the Warriors on a two-way deal, they are left with two open two-way spots to fill, which they will likely do through a training camp competition like they did last season.
So far the Warriors have already added four training camp invites on Exhibit 10 deals, in two undrafted rookies and two Santa Cruz Warriors alumni, who while likely all be Santa Cruz bound for next season, but still figure to be factors in the two-way competition.
A quick couple of notes on them:
Kendric Davis (PG, 24, 6’0): The undrafted guard out of Memphis had a memorable performance for the Warriors in Summer League showcasing his three-level scoring potential along with his budding half-court playmaking. However, the undersized, shifty scorer is an older prospect and probably not what the Warriors are looking for at this point, but he would be a solid addition for the Sea Dubs.
Javan Johnson (SF, 24, 6’6): The DePaul product had a quiet Summer League numbers-wise, but it was easy to see what the Warriors like about him. He has great size and length for his position with a smooth shooting stroke and an ability to make an impact on the defensive end. While he projects to be more of a late-blooming 3&D development prospect, with a good training camp performance he’s a dark horse candidate for a two-way spot.
Jerome Robinson (SG, 26, 6’5): The former NBA lottery pick has spent the last two seasons with the Sea Dubs where he’s carved out a role as a capable playmaking wing with a sweet jumper and some defensive chops. Well-regarded by the SCW coaching staff as a model professional, great leader, and respected mentor, he looks to try to fight his way back to the NBA and is definitely someone the Warriors would like to keep a part of their organization in some capacity.
Jayce Johnson (C, 26, 7’0): Johnson has had quite the journey so far. After being undrafted out of Marquette, he spent two years overseas, and then entered the G League draft last year where Santa Cruz selected him in the second round. He barely made the team out of training camp, but would finish the season as their starting center and the G League’s leading rebounder. While he didn’t quite keep his momentum going in Summer League, there’s enough to like about him to bring him back to the Sea Dubs for a second year.
The Warriors have already made it clear that one of the areas they’re looking to address on their roster using a two-way spot is center, so it’s likely they’ll be bringing in one or two big men to compete for it.
The other spot is kind of just up for grabs and will probably go to whatever player the Warriors feel either is the best value at the spot or presents some potential long-term upside they could develop in Santa Cruz.
Harry Giles III (C, 25, 6’11): Giles has been out of the NBA for the past two seasons, but a new wrinkle regarding two-way deals added to the CBA at the petition of his friend Jayson Tatum, might be his pathway back to the league.^ Before injuries forced him out of the NBA, Giles was starting to find a role in the league as a capable backup big. His playmaking ability at his position especially out of the high post and low block would make him a seamless fit in the Warriors’ offense and he fits the bill of exactly the type of older, experienced fringe rotation player the Warriors love to have available on a two-way with 142 NBA games already under his belt. The only questions here are regarding his health and whether or not he already has some sort of a handshake deal with the Boston Celtics for this type of contract given his connections there, but the fact that he is working out with teams including the Warriors would lead us to believe that he is very much exploring his options and would be an ideal addition for the Dubs.
Usman Garuba (C, 21, 6’8): A recent casualty of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bloated roster, the Spaniard who is only two years removed from being a late first-round pick finds himself on the free agent market. In his short career so far, Garuba has struggled to carve out a role in the NBA. He spent years in the Euroleague developing with the prestigious Real Madrid and molded his game after Warriors’ stalwart Draymond Green. While short for his position, much like Draymond, his size, strength, athleticism, and rangy wingspan more than makes up for his height. He’s a high-energy, hustle player who’s a versatile Swiss army knife defensively and has flashed some playmaking ability. Given his youth (two years younger than newly drafted Trayce Jackson-Davis), Garuba would be a very worthy low-risk, high-reward addition on a two-way that the Warriors could develop long-term as he learns behind the very man he modeled his playstyle after.
Lamar Stevens (PF, 26, 6’6): While Stevens is not a household name, among two-way eligible free agents, he is by far the best player available. He has spent the last three seasons in Cleveland developing into a versatile, defensive ace off the bench for them. While both his role and minutes have routinely fluctuated over the years, he continued to remain a reliable rotation player when called upon, ready to do all the unglamorous dirty work on the floor. Pressing defensively, setting screens, flying in for boards, making the right passing reads, etc. He’s exactly the type of gritty, hustling, ‘got-that-dog-in-him’ type of player the Warriors have found a lot of success with over the years such as Gary Payton II and Juan Toscano-Anderson. Stevens has a bevy of experience with 169 NBA games played including a playoff series and would be a seamless on-and-off-court fit. On a two-way deal, he would be an absolute steal and if he has better offers out there (the Celtics with two open 15-man roster spots have shown interest), he would be even well worth a look at for the 14th roster spot.
Duop Reath (C, 27, 6’11): The Aussie big man out of LSU has been gradually making noise overseas over the last couple of seasons with stints across three continents in Serbia, Australia, China, and Lebanon earning him Summer League invites with the Portland Trail Blazers this year and Phoenix Suns last year. He’s a smooth scorer around the basket whose range extends out to the 3PT-line (36% on 591 career attempts) as well as being able to offer some things defensively. He’ll be stepping into a starting role with the Australian national team following an injury to Jock Landale, for those who will be following along with the FIBA World Cup, and should be someone to keep an eye on. Given his plethora of international experience, after Giles III, he would be the most sensible addition as a more veteran front-court depth piece to supplement Trayce Jackson-Davis over some of the younger two-way eligible free agents on the market. The biggest question with Reath would be if he’s willing to take the two-way salary to try his hand in the NBA over potentially more lucrative options internationally.
D.J. Stewart Jr. (SF, 24, 6’6): Stewart has been on my radar for a while now and is someone who really impressed me with a dominant, career-high 41-point performance against the Santa Cruz Warriors this past season. He’s a long, athletic rangy wing who’s shown the ability to be an explosive 3&D weapon with shot creation skill. In 40 games in the GL last year playing for Sioux Falls Skyforce he posted 21.5ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.6apg, 1.2spg on 48.9% FG and 34.6% 3PT. He’s spent the past two seasons with two of the most well-regarded organizations in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat; and while on the older side for a prospect, he has the exact type of skillset that is worth taking a training camp flier on for a two-way deal in case he pops.
Honorable Mentions: Tyrese Martin, Vernon Carey Jr., Jordan Schakel, Justin Minaya, Mamadi Diakite, Quenton Jackson, Xavier Sneed, TyTy Washington Jr., Vit Krejci, RJ Hampton, Xavier Moon*
*Xavier Moon: The Warriors brought in Moon for a workout this month as they evaluate free-agent candidates to fill their training camp roster.
^Dubbed the ‘Harry Giles Rule’ any player who missed a whole season through injury while under contract and was credited with a year of service for it would not have those years of service counted towards their two-way eligibility. So Giles who missed the entirety of his rookie season is now still two-way eligible despite having accrued 4 years of service. Another player in the same situation, Dylan Windler, has already benefited from this rule signing a two-way deal with the New York Knicks last month.
Potential Roster-Cut Casualties
Aaron Wiggins (SF, 24, 6’6): The Oklahoma City Thunder sit at a league-high 18 standard contracts and will have to move on from three players ahead of the regular season in order to bring their roster into compliance. There will be some tough decisions for them to make and while it’s not clear yet who that group of players could be, if Wiggins does end up being a part of it, expect plenty of teams to jump at a chance to grab him. The unheralded, undrafted wing has very quietly carved out a role in a crowded Thunder team as a capable, swiss army knife rotation player. His efficiency last season across the board (.512/.393/.831), albeit in a limited role, is quite noteworthy, and he has shown the ability to impact the game in multiple ways with his defensive versatility, relentless hustle, and well-rounded offensive game. While he may find himself on the chopping block in OKC, he would be a hot commodity on the open market well worthy of two-way consideration or even a potential look at the 14th roster spot.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (C, 22, 6’9): Moving onto our second potential Thunder casualty, while the current market for two-way bigs is quite limited, Robinson-Earl could be an interesting name to become available. JRE was a mainstay in the Thunder’s rotation the past two seasons appearing in 92 games, 56 of which he started. He’s been well-regarded as a capable backup big whose game isn’t super flashy, but he plays the right way and gets the job done. He has shown the ability to step out behind the arc knocking down 34.4% of his career 276 threes along with impacting the glass and making the right plays offensively with the ball in his hands. With the Thunder quite loaded in the frontcourt, Robinson-Earl is very likely to be available and would be a solid addition as a two-way to shore up the frontcourt depth for the Warriors as a capable and experienced pickup.
Xavier Tillman Sr. (PF, 24, 6’8): The Memphis Grizzlies are currently rostering 17 players on guaranteed contracts and will have to move on from two players to bring their roster into compliance. While it is more than likely those two players will be the guys who arrived to them this offseason in salary dumps (Isaiah Todd and Josh Christopher), given how loaded they are in the frontcourt, it’s not out of the question the Memphis might choose to hold onto Christopher and make Tillman available. Warriors fans likely remember Tillman for playing a significant role on the Memphis team that defeated the Dubs in the 2021 Play-In Tournament. The Michigan State product is a gritty, high-energy glue guy. A capable scorer around the rim with the ability to make a difference defensively. With 173 games of NBA experience in addition to 18 playoff games, if the Grizzlies were to move on from him, the Warriors would be very shrewd to bring him in.
Honorable Mentions: Xavier Cooks*, Jack White, Anthony Gil, Isaiah Todd, Josh Christopher, Tre Mann, Jason Preston, Kobi Simmons
*Xavier Cooks: Cooks played for the Warriors during the 2018 Summer League.
Perks’s Final Roster Spot Predictions
14th Man: Juan Toscano-Anderson (Non-Guaranteed)
15th Man: N/A
Two-Way: Lester Quiñones
Two-Way: Harry Giles III
Two-Way: Javan Johnson
Although there are still some interesting free-agent options out there, unless someone in the vein of Danilo Gallinari were to become available, I believe the Warriors will play it safe and go for Juan Toscano-Anderson. He is a veteran, proven in their system, who would accept a reserve role and shore up their wing depth. He would also likely be available for a non-guaranteed deal to give them some roster optionality during the season (maybe with a partial guarantee stipulation in there if he makes the opening night roster).
As tantalizing as the prospect of Garuba is, Giles III would be the right move for them at a two-way spot as a guy who really fits their system and would offer a capable, experienced option off the bench. Given their limited frontcourt depth and penchant for not only playing their two-ways, but being a great free-agent rehabilitation spot, the Warriors should be near the top of Giles’s preferred landing spots.
It’s hard to predict how the Warriors will utilize that third two-way spot since this is the first season they have it available, but you’d assume with Quiñones rostered and a potential Giles III addition, they’ll just try to take a high-upside player they can develop in Santa Cruz. As amazing as an addition someone like Lamar Stevens or Aaron Wiggins (if he became available would be), those guys will likely see better offers and opportunities elsewhere. Johnson as a developmental 3&D prospect could be an interesting choice for them if he shows more in the training camp than he did in Summer League.
Also keep an eye out for the Warriors potentially snagging another team’s training camp cut during the preseason for a potential two-way addition as well, like they did two seasons ago when they nabbed Jeff Dowtin Jr. from Orlando. Some names to consider in that regard: Cole Swider, Joe Wieskamp, Buddy Boeheim, Stanley Umude, Jeenathan Williams, Matthew Mayer, Caleb Daniels, and Caleb McConnell.
What are your thoughts? Any players that weren’t mentioned here you think the Warriors should take a look at for a training camp invite?
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