Zaza Pachulia’s free agency came to an end today when he signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Warriors. Instead of having to settle for the $2.3 million veteran’s minimum, it looks like his non-bird rights came into play, resulting in the higher salary.
What this means for JaVale McGee is now anybody’s guess.
This man jumped to his death upon hearing the news:
Warriors are trying to re-sign Zaza over JaVale? pic.twitter.com/a8LV5E70JP— T.J. (@TrilliamJackson) July 4, 2017
Golden State of Mind’s “Explain One Play” specialist issued a simple sigh of resignation:
This Spurs’ fan expressed a specific brand of hatred:
And a pack of Warriors’ fans turned on Pachulia like rabid hyenas:
Thankfully, someone appeared with a little compassion for Zaza:
I understand their frustrations, but too many Warriors fans hate on Zaza... https://t.co/GG29kjVqlJ— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) July 4, 2017
The Warriors’ faithful are frustrated with Pachulia because he has been clumsy enough to cause injuries to other players. In the 2016-17 season, these players include his own teammate, Kevin Durant, and the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. Additionally, Pachulia often moves at a much slower pace than the game, on both sides of the ball, as if wearing cement-block shoes. At times, he appears dazed and confused, if not half asleep.
By contrast, McGee resoundingly beats Pachulia in quickness, athleticism and hustle. But his game does not come without flaws, either. McGee is sometimes prone to mental lapses that cause him to do very strange things, like toss a ball out of bounds during a Finals’ game with at least 10 seconds left on the shot clock with which to get the ball to an open man.
So, which is more problematic for the team — Pachulia appearing to be in a fog much of the time or McGee having mental lapses that cause him to give up on plays? This is an important question for the Warriors’ decision-makers to answer because the two centers are pretty much even across the stat sheet.
In the 2016-17 season, Pachulia “averaged 6.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists over 70 games.” While playing roughly 18 minutes per night, he shot 53 percent from the field and made 78 percent of his free throws. Meanwhile, fan favorite JaVale McGee also averaged 6.1 points per game in the 2016-17 season to go along with 3.2 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. McGee, playing fewer than 10 minutes per game, made 50.5 percent of his free throws, but banked 65.2 percent of his field goals.
With an additional eight minutes on the court to match Pachulia’s 18, could McGee add another 2.7 rebounds per game to his average to match Pachulia in this area of the stat sheet?
Furthermore, if Pachulia and McGee are basically even on the stat sheet (taking into consideration the difference in playing time) — and McGee’s shortcomings are far less hurtful to the team than Pachulia’s (according to most Warriors’ fans) — why is Pachulia a veritable lock while McGee is meeting with the busted-up Clippers?
Pachulia, as a standalone player, would not be considered a hot commodity in the NBA. Therefore, Golden State’s efforts to retain Pachulia for another season come down to a desire to keep the core intact, eagerness to hold onto a player with championship experience, and adherence to prudent financial decisions — especially considering Stephen Curry’s supermax contract and Kevin Durant’s salary concessions.
The adjustment to so many new players at the start of the 2016-17 season seemed to be a long and painful one. Although the team eventually started to jell — and chief new guy, Durant, would go on to become NBA Finals MVP — getting there was a worrisome and bumpy road. So, perhaps this is a case of not fixing what isn’t totally broken? (Of course, the Warriors would also be keeping the core intact by retaining JaVale McGee. And keeping either player would meet the goal of holding onto a guy with championship experience.)
So, that leaves money.
The Warriors reportedly just agreed to terms with Nick Young today. McGee, who has said he wants to return to the Warriors, is still weighing his free-agency options. Players typically do this when strongly determined to secure a more lucrative contract. With David West signing for the veteran minimum of approximately $2.3 million, it is hard to see the team offering more than the veteran’s minimum to Pachulia, who has been in the league for 14 years.
So now, with the correct numbers: two more veteran's minimum deals would have Warriors at $134.2 million in payroll; total: $162.8 million.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) July 5, 2017
McGee has been in the league for nine years and it would make sense in terms of finances and merit for him to be offered the veteran’s minimum, too. After all, he comes off the bench like West and plays fewer than 10 minutes per game. But thanks to his vivacious style of play and vast improvements this season, McGee knows he can likely earn more elsewhere. Therefore, he is creating a scenario that will either force the Warriors to meet his contract demands or inspire another team to offer him a contract that better suits his needs.
Pachulia, however, is in no position to bargain. In fact, he needs to just take whatever he can get. Thus, if the Warriors offer him the veteran’s minimum of $2.3 million — or even slightly below $3.5 million (due to his non-bird rights) — it is hard to imagine he won’t jump at the chance and sign in blood.
Which player do you want to see at starting center for the Warriors in the 2017-18 season?
This poll is closed