A terrific fourth quarter outing on Friday night was not enough to secure Kevon Looney’s future. The third-year big man out of UCLA will enter the 2018 offseason without a team, after Golden State did not exercise his option.
Golden State will not exercise 4th-year option of Kevon Looney, league sources tell ESPN. He’ll become an unrestricted at end of season.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 31, 2017
While Looney’s future is now in the air, second-year center Damian Jones’s is not, as he’ll be returning to Golden State next season.
Sources: Warriors ecstatic about Looney’s development, but tax ramifications forced their hands. Damian Jones to have 3rd-year picked up.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 31, 2017
Declining Looney’s option doesn’t completely shut the door on his tenure with the Warriors. Unless he has a stellar season, he probably won’t earn much in free agency, meaning Golden State could re-sign him if they decide to spend the money.
The tax ramifications that Haynes mentioned are a little tricky. Looney’s option would have cost roughly the same as a most veteran’s minimum contracts, meaning the Warriors may have to fill Looney’s spot with a rookie in order to actually save money.
Part of the Warriors’ thinking likely has to do with the uncertainty they have next offseason. With so many free agents, Golden State may be waiting to see what veterans will return.
If players like Nick Young, Omri Casspi, and Zaza Pachulia are willing to return for minimums, Golden State will need all the money they can get, and not having Looney’s contract could be a big benefit. If those veterans decide to chase greener bank accounts, then re-signing Looney may make a lot of sense.
As Haynes mentioned, the Warriors are ecstatic about Looney’s development this year, and that’s a great thing. Hopefully that continues, and Looney can round himself into an everyday player, be it in the Bay Area, or elsewhere.