The list of Warriors player to be cut off revealed. READ MORE…
Turn on the television, the radio, fire up a podcast or hop onto your favorite sports website; everyone is talking about the Golden State Warriors right now, and what massive changes they will be making this offseason. The discussion ranges from informed to unhinged, but it’s happening everywhere.
It’s important for the front office to lay down some guidelines as they look at the roster. Some players will be untouchable; barring a gargantuan trade offer (and even with one in regards to our first player below) those players will be on the Warriors next season. At the other end of the spectrum are those players whom the team should move on from this offseason.
Let’s set those boundaries for the roster. Who has to stay, and who has to go?
No words truly need to be written here. Stephen Curry is more untouchable than any other player in the league. He is the face, the heart and the soul of the Golden State Warriors, and he will retire with the franchise.
What’s even more remarkable about Curry is that he was every bit as good this season as he was during his prime, having another all-time regular season and then dropping 50 points in Game 7 against the Sacramento Kings. The Warriors still have a title window because Curry is a top-five player in the league, and as long as he remains so they will have a chance every season.
To mark Draymond Green as untouchable would have seemed unthinkable at the start of the year. He lost his cool and punched Jordan Poole prior to the season, setting off a chain of events that led to a slow start and, as both Green and Steve Kerr admitted, probably led to their second-round playoff exit. Without that punch, perhaps the Warriors are still alive.
The list of Warriors player to be cut off revealed. READ MORE…
In the aftermath of the punch it seemed like Green’s future was increasingly likely to involve a different team than the Warriors. He has a player option on his contract that he is likely to decline in order to hit free agency, and with the Warriors’ tax bill skyrocketing it seemed almost certain Green would be the casualty, given his age and temper. When the Warriors extended Poole but not Green, that seemed like a done deal.
Then something strange happened, that shouldn’t be surprising to those who have followed the team for the last decade: Draymond Green played his butt off, doing everything asked of him, rebuilding trust with his teammates and proving himself one of the best defensive players in the league and absolutely critical to the Warriors’ success.
The dynasty was built on the back of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and this year that trio proved that whatever happens over the final years of the dynasty, they are going down together. Green roared his way back into “untouchable” status and is almost certain to be brought back next year.
There were a number of factors contributing to the Warriors’ poor record this season, but one substantial one was the absence of Andrew Wiggins. For most of the season he was either injured, away tending to his ill father, or playing at less than 100 percent. The Wiggins who was the Warriors’ second-best player on the way to the 2022 title wasn’t around consistently.
There is no reason to expect those things to marr next season, and a healthy Wiggins is invaluable to this team. He can defend up to check guards and down to take on combo forwards, and his combination of scoring, shooting and rebounding is unmatched by anyone on the team. The Warriors need Wiggins as that No. 2 option as Thompson ages, helping to carry the burden and unlock all the various lineups the Warriors will use to win in the playoffs. At one point he was the salary ballast in trade ideas for stars; now he is the star.
Kevon Looney has to be the best player in the NBA who is routinely pushed to the bench because of lineup tinkering. He is a top-five rebounder in the entire league, able to pull down boards like the ball is metal and he has super magnets under his skin. He knows exactly where the ball tends to carom on misses from his teammates and works his way to those spots, beating out larger opponents and those in better position to get the board.
Five times in the past two postseasons Kevon Looney has had 20 rebounds or more; the rest of the NBA has combined for eight. He is a solid defender, comfortable switching out into space and making smart rotations behind the play. On offense he is a good passer and a crushing screen-setter, and his timing in the roll game is exquisite.
For his combination of play on the court and demeanor, gamely allowing Steve Kerr to move him in and out of the starting lineup, Kevon Looney is absolutely crucial to the Warriors’ success. Add in that his value to other teams is likely less than it is to Golden State, and he joins his teammates on the “untouchable” list.
We now pivot off the roster and into the front office, to highlight the importance of the Warriors’ President of Basketball Operations and General Manager, Bob Myers. His contract expires at the end of this league year and he and the team have not yet come to terms on a new deal, with the possibility that Myers walks a distinct possibility.
Some general managers focus heavily on the transaction side of the job, building their draft board and working out trades and free agent signings. Myers has certainly proven himself in that department, drafting players like Draymond Green, Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole well outside of the lottery; signing Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and a host of role players. He also pulled off the trade to bring in Andrew Wiggins, chose Gary Payton II over Avery Bradley (which was crucial to last year’s title) and so on down the line.
Yet Myers is much more than an architect; he is a friend and mentor to the players and coaches in the organization. He has the relational capital with Draymond Green to call him out on his crap, or with Steve Kerr to give him the support to coach through physical or social hardship. He not only built this team, he is the glue that holds it together.
Myers returning likely requires both Joe Lacob being willing to pay him well on a new deal, and on Myers deciding he wants to be a part of continuing the journey with this team. He is taking time now to make his decision, one he is torn about, per Adrian Wojnarowski. He is reportedly not considering another NBA job if he leaves; whether that means more time with his family or taking a job in another industry (there have been rumors floated that he is wanted to run Disney). If Myers leaves, the Warriors are worse off as an organization. It’s that plain and simple, and the team should make every effort to bring him back.
No. 1 to Cut Loose – JaMychal Green
The Golden State Warriors have to make moves on the margins to help build out their team each season, and one key area is having a stretch-big on hand. Otto Porter Jr. was a key part of the Warriors’ title in 2022, and JaMychal Green was signed as his replacement this season when Porter signed with the Toronto Raptors.
Green was good value for the minimum, and helped the team navigate the regular season. He stepped up when called upon in the playoffs, even starting a couple of games. It’s not a terrible decision to bring him back next season, but he is likely going to want a pay increase; instead of spending more than the minimum on him, the Warriors should let him walk, sign another stretch-big to a minimum deal, and give Patrick Baldwin Jr. his rotation spot.
No. 2 to Cut Loose – Andre Iguodala
Four players have been a part of all four Golden State Warriors titles. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, of course, have been together the entire time. The fourth player is Andre Iguodala, who was sent packing in the aftermath of Kevin Durant’s departure and rejoined the team two seasons ago.
Iguodala was recruited back for one more season by the core players, but his body wasn’t capable of providing more than spot minutes throughout the year, and he didn’t play in the playoffs at all. His veteran mentorship was surely valuable, but a roster spot is not the only way to provide that.
If Iguodala wants to stick around, that’s great! Perhaps he could take a role as an assistant coach, or in the front office. He could be a “consultant” coming around part of the time but spending the rest of his time golfing. The Warriors showed this season that they need every available roster spot to get through the season; they can’t afford to use one on a legacy player.
No. 3 to Cut Loose – Jordan Poole
Jordan Poole is not as bad as fans feel that he is right now. He had a shaky season this year, followed by an outright bad playoff run. Whether Poole plateaued as a player, got off on the wrong foot after being punched by Draymond Green, or simply missed some shots, it wasn’t the best showing for the player the Warriors just inked to a lucrative extension.
Yet just one season ago, Poole was a critical part of the Warriors’ title run, putting up big numbers in the playoffs. And this year he wasn’t a slouch, averaging 20 points per game while being yanked in-and-out of the starting lineup. Poole is put in a tough position on this team, sometimes having to run the offense and other times shoved into minutes behind Stephen Curry.
The Warriors need to change things this offseason, not the heart of the team but how the ancillary pieces fit around them. Jordan Poole is likely to be better in a different environment, and the Warriors can use his salary to bring back a player who will be a better fit for them. Poole gets a larger role elsewhere, and the Warriors get to reconfigure their rotation, whether that is going after a star or finding two-way players for the bench.
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The Warriors are going to make changes this offseason, and some of them will likely require saying goodbye to players who have been a part of their success. That’s part of the game in maintaining a contender in the NBA, and the Warriors have proven they can do it as well as anyone. Here’s hoping they can do it again.
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