Warriors free agency: Locks, losses, and coin-flips
With the start of NBA free agency, the Warriors are in a completely different spot than a year before. Last year they were planning a risky retooling of a 73-win team. This year, they are trying to keep them together. Here’s a look at the 10 Golden State free agents and how likely they are to return.
After playing at what might be the biggest discount in the modern NBA for the last three four seasons, Curry is finally up for a superstar extension. The Warriors shouldn’t and wouldn’t offer him a discounted contract, and he is expected to receive a five-year max contract, which could be worth over $200 million. Expect him to sign at the end of free agency in order to let the Warriors maneuver the money first and then go over the cap to re-sign him.
Durant has already stated his intention to decline his player option and then re-sign for less than his max salary. He’ll take $4 million less than his maximum salary to let the Warriors retain the Bird rights of both Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to be able to go over the cap to re-sign them. He will also wait until the very end of free agency to re-sign.
The Almost Locks
The fact Iguodala is meeting with other teams — especially the San Antonio Spurs — at the midnight start of free agency has some worried about his intentions. But the Warriors can offer him the most money and give him the chance to contend for titles every remaining year of his career. These free agent meetings are less about him wanting to leave and instead about finding out what his value. With his Bird rights, the only thing it will cost the Warriors to offer him, say $20 million over two years, would be Joe Lacob’s and Peter Gruber’s money. And since Durant took less money specifically for them to re-sign him, there’s no excuse for him to not be back.
There are basically two options West is thinking about: retire or re-sign. The Warriors are the best situation for West, not just for title contention, but for on-court fit. They let him play limited minutes, while being a stretch-big and one of the main facilitators on the Warriors second unit. And from seeing his locker room reaction to winning his first championship, he’s probably not walking away from that feeling, at least for a little while.
The Good Chances
He’s someone else Durant took a pay cut to afford, so it would be easy to assume he’s coming back. But Livingston is also someone who, even though he was a top draft pick, has yet to really cash in on a contract. His career earnings are at just $26 million total, which is less than he will earn with his next contract.
The free agent point guard crop is stacked; the second tier isn’t. So teams that strike out on Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holliday or George Hill, will probably be willing to shell out around three years and $36 million for Livingston. It would be understandable for Livingston to finally cash in with a big deal. But he could also get pretty close to that in Golden State, and a chance for more titles.
Pachulia might be the most unpopular player on this list, but it would be nearly impossible for the Warriors to get another starting center on close to a minimum contract. And the Warriors can re-sign him for 120 percent of last year’s contract even if they are over the cap because they have his non-Bird rights. This means Pachulia, who took a steep discount to come to Golden State, could get a small raise and stay on a title contender. He’s already stated his wish of staying and this could be enough to convince him.
McGee and the Warriors found the perfect situation for each other when McGee signed a non-guaranteed deal last offseason. The Warriors needed a rim-running center and they got one of the best at that specific skill set.
McGee rehabilitated his career to the point that other teams in need of the same thing could be comfortable offering a lucrative multi-year contract. The Warriors have his non-Bird rights as well, but they already have last year’s first-round pick Damian Jones waiting for minutes, and they drafted Oregon’s Jordan Bell who could fill a similar role. If he’s willing to take less, he’ll be back for another season, if not the Warriors will be fine with giving his minutes to their young guys.
The Coin Flip
Steve Kerr and the organization love McAdoo. They’ve already invested a ton of time and effort in his development, so they might just bring him back. It also depends on if anyone offers him anything above a minimum contract. If they don’t, he’ll almost assuredly be back. But at the same time, Bell is basically the same player as McAdoo, except with much better defense and he could theoretically step into the same role immediately, since that’s mostly garbage time minutes anyway. But if Anderson Varejao can be brought back, don’t count out Kerr lobbying hard for McAdoo.
Clark all but priced himself out of the Warriors price range with his strong performance this year. Plus the Warriors already have someone to step in and replace him in Patrick McCaw. Although McCaw isn’t as good of a shooter as Clark, in time he could be, and he’s already a much better defender and facilitator. Clark has never got a decent multi-year contract, but expect that to change this offseason. He’s earned it.
Barnes basically played when Durant was hurt and hopefully that means he wouldn’t get much time at all next season. The Warriors weren’t in the market for another combo forward before the injury, instead looking at another point guard. Which means Barnes’ roster spot may be more valuable than he is. If the Warriors lose one of their bigs and/or trade Kevon Looney, Barnes could find his way back on a minimum contract, but short of that, look for him to either retire or catch on with another contender.