The Warriors have one spot on their roster open, and chances are high they fill it before the end of the season. As of now, the frontrunner for the opening is Damion Lee, who currently is on a two-way contract with the Warriors. In the G-League and in limited minutes in the NBA, Lee has shown decent three-point shooting, solid defense, and some quick handles at the wing position. If the Warriors like him enough, they can convert his two-way contract into a normal one like they did with Quinn Cook last season.
But the buyout market could hold some value this year. Tyson Chandler and Austin Rivers have both been bought out and found new teams so far this season, and more should follow. If a veteran on a tanking team is bought out and wants to contribute to a ring, the Warriors are a top team to join. For the Warriors an additional wing, or possibly, another center would benefit the team most. Here are some players that could be on the radar:
Lin began his career in Golden State, and would be a fan favorite here. He can play either point guard or shooting guard, and seems fully recovered from his season-ending injury a year ago. Because the Hawks are prioritizing minutes for younger players, Lin is not getting much playing time, but he is averaging an amazing 21.0 points, 6.1 assists, and 4.4 boards on 50-40-81 splits per 36 minutes. His large expiring contract might be tough to move, so there’s a decent chance he is bought out. The competition for his services would be tough.
Dedmon was also on the Warriors early on the career, and found a home in Atlanta after breaking out in San Antonio. Dedmon is a lower-end starting center on a decent contract, so the Hawks should find a trade partner for him. If they can’t, there’s a chance he’s bought out, given the Hawks’ desire to tank. If so, he will be sought after: a solid defensive center with three point range is useful in today’s NBA.
The Nets finally have their own pick this year, and they might want to cut some vets to lead a tank job later in the season. Carroll is a 3-D wing that rediscovered his rhythm in Brooklyn after a few disappointing seasons in Toronto. At age thirty-two, he probably only has a few years left in the league to make an impact. He could be a solid role player on a winning team.
Another former Warrior, Holiday has become a strong shooter, lanky defender, and odd man out on the Bulls. At age twenty-nine on a cheap, expiring contract, Holiday should be a trade target for a playoff team, so I fully expect him to find another team through trade. If not, he could be bought out. I’d guess he probably wants a larger role on a contender, so I’d bet against him joining the Warriors in that situation.
Lopez has seen one of the smallest roles of his career this season on the Bulls, and will almost certainly join another team this season. Because of his large contract, he’s unlikely to be a trade target, so he should be bought out. Already declining due to age, there’s some question about how much Robin has left in the tank, but there’s a good chance he’ll play better on a team with better talent and desire to win. He’s tough as nails and would be instant energy off the bench.
Right now, it’s difficult to tell which teams will be in playoff contention in a few months. Especially in the West, many teams will try their best to make it in as the seventh or eighth seeds. Thus, the best bet for buyouts comes from current bottom-dwellers like the Hawks, Bulls, Suns, or Cavaliers. As the playoff picture becomes clearer, more and more players should enter the buyout market leading up to the trade deadline.
Then again, the Warriors could use their roster spot on Damion Lee, who is already familiar with the system, and has room to improve. The Warriors should play Lee a bit more in coming weeks to assess his readiness as the buyout market becomes more defined.