There has been plenty of talk about the importance of the Golden State Warriors' roster continuity in their quest to repeat as a NBA champions.
However, never a franchise to rest on its laurels in the Joe Lacob era, they went out and made moves to improve their salary cap situation and, possibly, their personnel. And, as Rusty Simmons of the S.F. Chronicle reported yesterday, a couple of those new additions have a real chance to have an impact this season.
"I think Andre (Iguodala) has been phenomenal. He’s always been a great player, but I think he’s so in tune with what we’re trying to accomplish and he’s so smart. He played really well," Kerr said. Andrew "Bogut looks good. Ian Clark has played well for a couple of days in a row. Klay (Thompson) has been fantastic."...Kerr mentioned Harrison Barnes, Jason Thompson, Marreese Speights and James McAdoo as the guys competing for minutes at backup power forward. "There’s a spot there."
It may not have been a splashy offseason, but if a guy like Jason Thompson could chip in some frontcourt minutes or Ian Clark could give the team an extra bench shooter, one of the moves made could pay dividends.
So which moves were most significant? And which fringe players do we think have the best shot to make it? For our first roundtable of the 2015-16 season, the Golden State of Mind staff offers their thoughts.
What significant moves were made during the offseason?
Conrad Chow: The most significant move of the offseason was saying goodbye to David Lee, which resulted in the acquisition of Jason Thompson. With minimal minutes to go around, the Warriors did its due diligence to find Lee a new home. In Thompson, Golden State has a team-friendly contract and a solid contributor who can step in at both power forward and center.
Chris Nielsen: The Warriors' offseason was not flashy, but it was near-perfect. They brought back key bench players on reasonable deals, paid the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, and made a sneaky-great draft pick. These moves were all smart, but they were par for the course for a competent front office. The handling of David Lee was a hole-in-one. The Warriors turned David Lee into a player (Jason Thompson) who is three years younger, costs $9 million a year less, and fits the make-up of the team better. And they gave up almost nothing to do so. Wow.
Ivan Bettger: The most significant moves made by any Warrior this offseason were by Stephen Curry. He was moving constantly: to and from talk shows, speaking engagements, film sets to record all the ads he's starring in. He probably hung out at the Under Armour headquarters for a while or something. Remember how Steph Curry is the reigning MVP and an NBA Champion? Totally crazy.
Derek Knight: Draymond Green re-signing supersedes everything. That's not a particularly interesting answer, though.
That answer depends on what timescale you're talking about. For next season, bringing back Leandro Barbosa, the #8 player in the playoff rotation, is huge. Jason Thompson, despite GSoM booting him off the island prematurely on our own asset rankings, is also an above-replacement level third big that Bob Myers acquired in a series of trades unseen since Jesus turned water into wine (...or Myers turning Beans and a pack of cigarettes into a Finals MVP).
David Lee's Warriors Era: The Rise, Fall & the end
Even though Lee wasn't the reason the Warriors won the championship, didn't necessarily push them over the edge, or create the wing-heavy defensive formation that formulated the league's stingiest defense, he was there for it all.
Long-term? How about snagging a top-10 rated prospect with the 30th pick in the draft? Kevon Looney, a 19-year-old with a 7'4" wingspan and a standing reach (9'2") half an inch shorter than Andrew Bogut's. He's got the body and tenacity to bang on the low-block on defense and the ball-handling skills and speed to grab the rebound and go coast-to-coast. Basically, the ideal "positionless basketball" 4. He won't do much this year, between rehabilitation from hip surgery and general "being a wet-behind-the-ears 19 year old on the defending world champs", but this could end up being the most memorable Warriors move of the offseason five years from now.
Not every significant move was positive. Gentry outperformed his role, as we all knew he was destined to do. Outside of the Draymond Green re-signing, this could have the largest effect on this season's Warriors. Be ready to revert back into Golden State Worrier mode at the first sight of an isolation play in preseason play. In all seriousness, it'll be very interesting to see how Kerr and Walton tweak and morph the offense in Coach Gentry's wake.
Hugo Kitano: I think we were all pretty surprised to acquire Jason Thompson for David Lee, via Gerald Wallace and Philadelphia. Considering all the assets that we had feared we might have to give up to move him (the 30th pick, who turned out to be Kevon Looney, money, a bench player at worst), getting a solid backup big in his prime is kind of a steal.
Ronaldinho: Adding Jason Thompson. He's a solid bench player who definitely upgrades our big-man situation and will decent time even if Speights duplicates last year's performance. The Warriors didn't have to make any big moves, and they didn't. This is a small one that could really help.
Basketball Jonez: Re-signing Draymond Green was obviously the right move, and adding Jason Thompson will make a big difference for the Warriors this year.
Jeff Cheal: I'm going to go with the most recent move and say Ben Gordon. Jason Thompson won't get much playing time sadly as he is buried in the depth chart, but his move was significant for the cap. Gordon stands to get 15-20 min a night, and with a good shooting clip could be a huge benefit to the second unit scoring. Does he have any left in the tank? Who knows, but the Warriors depth could sure stand to see if he does. Can we also add Steve Nash to the coaching staff as a huge surprise? A clear sign more of the front office and the head coach then just winning a title that world-class minds and talents want to join this organization at this point.
Which player "on the bubble" for making the Warriors' roster is most *intriguing* to you, regardless of whether he actually has a shot at making the team?
(Options: Brandon Rush, Ben Gordon, Chris Babb, Ian Clark, Jarell Eddie, Juwan Staten, Tony Mitchell)
Andrew Flohr: Steve Kerr called Brandon Rush the best player in practice last season. I'm wondering if he can turn it around this year and produce in actual games.
Nate Parham: I'm really interested to see how Ben Gordon performs in camp. I have no idea how many minutes he's capable of playing or what he's capable of producing, but the player we know from the past could be a major asset for this team's bench as a sparkplug scorer and 3-point shooter. It can't hurt to have another hungry veteran presence on the bench if he proves he can still play.
Derek Knight: Juwan Staten has intrigued me since I looked into him. His junior season put him on the map of recruiters everywhere, but he saw some regression his senior year at West Virginia. How's this for a junior year: .550 TS / 24.8 USG%, 6.6 BPM, .174 WS/40. Oh, and his free throw rate of .598 blows out James Harden's best and makes Kevin Durant blush. He's a quick, quick point guard. There's a place for him in this league if that junior year (which was the largest SS of any year, for what it's worth) wasn't an aberration.
Hugo Kitano: I'm also pulling for Rush. Hopefully another year removed from ACL surgery will give him some more confidence. The Warriors could use another 3-and-D wing (what team doesn't?), and I have a soft spot for Rush because of his previous time as a fan favorite on the Dubs.
Basketball Jonez: Rush. I still can't figure out what's wrong with his game and it's driving me nuts.
Bram Kincheloe: Ben Gordon is from Westchester, so (as a NYC-resident) if he makes the team, it'll be fun for me to gauge how his presence is felt in the Tri-State area. Also, there was a time when the dude could flat out ball. He could be one of those wildcards off the bench. Give Curry a night off, somewhere deep in the season, and watch Gordon explode for 30 points or something.
Jeff Cheal: It's going to be Brandon Rush, but only because if he doesn't show up in the preseason I don't see how the Warriors can keep him on the team. They know what they are getting with him at this point: a 3-and-D guy who can't hit his shot any more and is a foot too slow at this point coming off injury. How do you give that spot to him over a younger player like Chris Babb or Tony Mitchell? It's make or break for Rush (whom I have secretly pushed for from the day he came to the roster) but I'm worried he will fall short.
What was the biggest surprise of this offseason?
Derek Knight: The GMs playing "Luke Ridnour Around the World"
Ronaldinho: The size of those contracts. We knew ... but we didn't know.
Basketball Jonez: Harrison Barnes turning down 4/64.
Jeff Cheal: DeAndre Jordan Emjoi-gate. What a drama filled mess, and it won't seem to go away. It just shows you what clowns players and agents can be. In this era of the ego-filled athlete, players are more "brands" than teammates. I know this is not the first time a player has backed out on a contract, but Twitter made it a soap opera and I don't know if anything short of a title shakes that smear off either the Clippers or the Mavericks for a long time.
Bram Kincheloe: The length. The Warriors have never had an off-season so short, and it confused me. Which, hell, is awesome. Getting addicted to that #ChampionsLyfe.
What do you think about the Warriors' offseason? Let us know in the comments. For more of our thoughts on the upcoming season, stay tuned to our 2015-16 Warriors Preview section.