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Warriors season preview Pt 2. Which young and old players do they keep?

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We look at big questions facing the championship-or-bust Warriors in the 2018-19 season. Which young and old players do they keep?

NBA: Golden State Warriors-Championship Parade
Have I mentioned I have an irrational good feeling about this guy?
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This is a 2018-19 season preview for the Golden State Warriors, in the form of three big questions the team must address this season.

In this installment, we’ll look at #2, which young and old players do they keep?

One of the big picture issues confronting the Warriors revolves around money and setting themselves up to gracefully handle an aging core while integrating younger talent. Golden State has famously looked to the San Antonio Spurs as a model for organizational culture and continuity. The Warriors established one of the best team cultures at the season scale. But the Spurs famously and astonishingly kept their Big Three for their whole careers and gracefully transitioned them to smaller contracts and roles while integrating younger talent. This is the next big challenge for Golden State. Can they do the same graceful aging of their key players’ contracts? Or will they go the Daryl Morey / Danny Ainge route of trading players like flipping bits in a video game?

Veterans

The key veterans are Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, who signed rather large contracts for their age. Both of them seemed old in the regular season, but came through in the postseason.

Andre Iguodala

Iguodala has started to refine his hibernation mode. When the regular-season team was at full strength, his defense was adequate, his offense passive and his shot erratic. But he showed how important his playoff presence was, being the ace in the hole in the Pelicans series when Kerr began starting the Hamptons Five (the five players in the Durant free agency meeting in the Hamptons: Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green and Iguodala). Golden State jumped out to a 2-1 lead against HOU with two huge blowouts,but lost two close games without an injured Iguodala, then squeaked out Games 6 and 7 after Chris Paul’s injury. Iguodala’s return in the Finals then shortened the series into a sweep. He still seems to have four extra gears he reserves for the playoffs. However, the Warriors are going to have a salary crunch starting next season (more on this below), and Iguodala will be making $17.2m in 2019-20 at the age of 35.

Praying For Andre

Andre Iguodala got a hug from his #1 fan, Sister Regena, and busted out with one of his best shooting days of his career in the recent Warriors-Jazz game. Watch all the nun-powered threes that Andre poured in. Co-starring Quinn Cook, Jordan Bell and Zaza Pachulia. By @EricApricot. More videos and full stories at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot.

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Monday, March 26, 2018
Angry Andre Iguodala in OT

Watch the Warriors hang on to barely win in overtime, while Andre Iguodala fumes and the defense gets repeatedly mixed up switching. Co-starring Kevin Durant, Patrick McCaw, Jordan Bell and David West.

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shaun Livingston

Shaun Livingston also had an erratic regular season, but in the playoffs from Houston Game 6 through Finals Game 3, he shot an absurd 18-for-22 while providing a steady hand on offense and switching onto all comers, including LeBron James, on defense. He’s such an important locker room presence and the Warriors need someone to mentor future smalls. On the other hand, his contract for 2019-20 only guarantees $2m, making him a prime candidate to be waived for money savings.

The other factor is that the Warriors have very few tradable contracts outside of their core and unproven and cheap youngsters. It seems likely that Iguodala and Livingston will both stay with the Warriors this year unless part of some blockbuster trade, but depending on the development of young smalls, they may be in more danger of trade in 2019.

Returning Youngsters

Coach Kerr has declared that the Warriors have to get younger.

As for the returning youngsters (Bell, Looney, Jones and Patrick McCaw, unsigned and mysterious), it has been challenging to find out their full potential given that all positions have been filled by the veterans.

Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell had an up and down and up year. He began the year with highlight dunks (including a controversial self-alley-oop) and blocks and gave Chicago Bulls fans seller’s remorse for trading Bell for cash. He then hit a rookie slump, including a slump in work ethic according to his later confessional, and after an ankle injury, he was out of the center rotation.

Bell gets yelled at, learns pro hustle

Watch rookie Jordan Bell get yelled at in New Orleans, learn, and come up with the huge chasedown block against Portland. Co-starring Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Thursday, December 14, 2017

That is, until Kerr, in his funny Role Player Whisperer way, inserted him into the biggest games of the year in the Western Conference Finals, and Bell kept his spot in the rotation through the Finals.

How Stephen Curry Won Game 7

Watch Stephen Curry's brilliant performance against the Rockets in Game 7 to lead the Warriors comeback from 11 points down to 9 points up, to save the game and win the Western Conference Finals. Co-starring Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Ryan Anderson and James Harden. By @EricApricot. More videos and full articles at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bell has the highest highlight potential of the youngsters, and showed great passing vision when composed. The Warriors are very eager to see if he can make the leap to become the center of the future.

Kevon Looney

Kevon Looney’s stock fluctuated wildly. He began the year presumed to be a bust, having played about three good NBA games in three years. Then as the deadline to accept his fourth-year option approached, Coach Kerr played him in several impressive games. Then he seemed to have possibly played his way back into the option, but the Warriors declined the option. Then Looney proved to be the perfect matchup covering pick-and-roll attacks, which meant he was the crucial starter against Houston. That series was the peak of Warriors fan regret about Looney’s lost option. Then Looney was benched for most of the Finals. When he finally hit the free-agent market, his limited offensive game seems to have limited his market, so he accepted a one-year minimum ($1.5m) from GSW, making the option refusal a good financial move in the end. Golden State will have full Bird rights after 2018-2019, so they could sweeten the contract in a year. But unless Looney shows some more offense, he may be capped as a role player role with matchup starts.

Looney's 3rd Quarter

Video highlights from Kevon Looney's nice play in GSW's 18-4 run that beat the Sixers. Co-starring Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Nick Young. Looneylooney!

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Sunday, November 12, 2017

Damian Jones

Bell will be a restricted free agent, Looney will be an unrestricted free agent, so they are the key bigs to evaluate for the future. Damian Jones will be on his rookie contract for another year, so he is not as pressing. Damian Jones has had very limited NBA time, but has flashed athleticism, defense and even a bit of a jumper. He’s another question mark about whether he can fulfill his athletic potential. He looked competent in pre-season, and Kerr has declared that Jones will start in the home opener.

Damian Jones Beats OKC

Watch youngster Damian Jones get thrown into the fire in his first serious NBA game. He played crunch time and played with poise and energy, hitting silky layups, defending alertly, rebounding with hustle and throwing in a highlight alley-oop. Co-starring Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Nick Young and Russell Westbrook. By @EricApricot. More videos and full articles at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Thursday, April 5, 2018

Patrick McCaw

The other key question mark is Patrick McCaw. He is not yet re-signed, and the presumption was that he would take the $1.75m qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next year (unless a team offers him more, in which case the Warriors will match any reasonable offer). Things have taken a weird Kawhi Leonard style turn, with McCaw rejecting his agent’s advice to sign in order to stage an odd silent treatment of the Warriors.

At the start of the season, Warriors capologists were anxious about bringing back this breakout role player from the 2017 Finals. At the time it seemed likely that he would play himself into a contract offer from a rival that was too big to match. But after a year of erratic play where he fell down the depth chart, then made a promising comeback only to suffer a terrifying spinal injury, it’s quite unknown what kinds of offers he will get. He showed flashes of putting it together, but injuries derailed any chances.

Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw put away the Spurs

Here's how the youngsters Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw put away the Spurs.

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Thursday, November 2, 2017
McCaw Returns

Patrick McCaw has been struggling, but he showed flashes of a return to aggressive form against the Phoenix Suns. Let's watch the way he got his shots. Co-starring Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Omri Casspi and Coach(?!) David West. For full stories and past videos, see http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot.

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Tuesday, February 13, 2018

But the Warriors are a bit thin on bench wings, with mainly the aforementioned veterans Iguodala and Livingston available, so the Warriors are for the moment hoping to wait out McCaw’s puzzling moves. This is McCaw’s chance to earn himself his next contract.

Quinn Cook

Quinn Cook played himself from a two-way contract into a proper minimum contract with energetic and assertive play, replacing the injured Curry, down the dreadful stretch of the regular season. Cook did not find a consistent playoff role in 2018 as his lack of size was attacked whenever he stepped foot on the court, so he isn’t likely to make a major impact in future Warriors signing strategies. Still he was a much-loved cog in the regular season and showed flashes of excellence.

Quinn Cook's 5-for-5 threes

Watch how Quinn Cook shot a perfect 5-for-5 on three pointers against the Bucks. Cook provided weak-side punishment when Durant warped the defense, and after Durant was ejected, Cook went into mini-Steph-Curry mode. Co-starring Kevin Durant, JaVale McGee, and Draymond Green. By @EricApricot. More videos and full stories at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Saturday, March 31, 2018
Quinn Cook Scores Two Ways

Watch Quinn Cook show the Spurs that they can force him left but he can score off the dribble going left or right, and with floaters or pulling up from long distance. The newest Warrior is making it very hard to leave him off the playoff roster! Other videos and full articles: http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot Also, in case you missed it, our last video on how Quinn can play off-ball as well: https://www.facebook.com/GoldenStateofMind/videos/10155209047646176/

Posted by Golden State of Mind on Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The New Guys

Finally, the Warriors drafted Jacob Evans III, a prototypical 3-and-D switching wing, but the Warriors may take their time with Evans after he didn’t impress in pre-season. Alfonso McKinnie is a rebounding wing who might be able to shoot 3s, and he grabbed the 14th spot on the roster while GSW awaits the end of the McCaw saga. Marcus Derrickson was signed to the Warriors’ second two-way contract, joining Damion Lee. All four are rolls of the dice who might end up mostly in Santa Cruz or break out like Quinn Cook last year.

  • Next, Part 3: What to do about Klay Thompson and Draymond Green?