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Buyout Candidates Part 3: The G League options

Will the Warriors go the same route they went a season ago?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors only have 25 games left on their schedule, but their roster still isn’t full. The team currently has used only 14 of their available 15 roster spots, as well as their pair of two-way contracts (as a reminder, two-way contracts are not eligible for postseason play unless converted to the roster).

With Golden State’s recent playoff injury history, the team will likely fill the 15th spot before the intensity of the postseason begins.

Players have to be off of their current team’s roster by March 1 in order to be playoff eligible with their new team. The Warriors don’t have to sign the player by March 1, however.

Today we’re looking at candidates for the 15th and final roster spot. Part 1 covered the centers. Part 2 covered the guards and wings. The final chapter is Part 3, which doesn’t cover buyouts at all, but rather G League options.

The precedent

Last year the Warriors signed Quinn Cook to a two-way contract. Due to a Steph Curry injury, they ended up relying on Cook heavily during the regular season - he played in 33 games, and started 18 of them.

When the playoffs approached, the team made the choice to cut veteran Omri Casspi so they could sign Cook to one of the roster spots, making him playoff eligible.

That worked out very well for them. While Steve Kerr didn’t use Cook much in the postseason, the team was comfortable having the young point guard as a security blanket.

Perhaps more importantly, the team liked Cook. According to reports, the switch from Casspi to Cook was partially prompted by veterans in the locker room who advocated for the then-second year guard. Cook fit in well, had good chemistry with all the players, and was close friends with Kevin Durant. It was a good fit.

Chemistry is vital to the Warriors. They’re the best team in the league. They’re the most talented team in the league. The team that stands the best chance at beating them is themselves.

If they opt to convert one of the two-way contracts, they’ll know exactly what they’re getting, rather than taking a chance on a player who could disrupt the locker room.

Who are the options?

Quinn Cook is on a guaranteed contract now, but the players who have taken his spot with two-way contracts have filled his shoes admirably.

Damion Lee

NBA season stats (18 games): 11.9 minutes, 5.1 points, and 2.0 rebounds per game, 40.5% three-point shooting, 58.6% true-shooting
G League season stats (21 games): 31.0 minutes, 19.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game, 38.0% three-point shooting, 58.0% true-shooting

Lee ticks a lot of boxes for the Warriors. He’s spent a chunk of the season on the roster, so he’s developed a lot of chemistry with the players, and is comfortable in his role. He’s liked and respected in the locker room, and is the brother-in-law of Curry, the team’s leader.

And while he’s not good enough yet to play a consistent role in the playoffs (assuming the team is healthy), he’s good enough to jump in and play a role if someone gets injured. His jumper adds some much-needed shooting depth to the bench.

Marcus Derrickson

NBA season stats (9 games): 6.0 minutes, 3.1 points, and 0.9 rebounds per game, 35.7% three-point shooting, 54.3% true-shooting
G League season stats (23 games): 27.8 minutes, 15.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, 45.5% three-point shooting, 61.5% true-shooting

The Warriors justifiably like a lot of the things Derrickson brings to the table, and have been high on him ever since a strong showing during Summer League. He can defend at least three positions, is willing to do the little things on the court, and can stretch the floor. He’s a great fit.

That said, he’s not a great fit for them right now. What he brings is a little redundant with the players they have, and the fact that he’s only played 54 career minutes almost surely means the team sees him as far too inexperienced.

Other G League options

I was going to write up about some of the top unsigned G League players who the Warriors could sign, but here’s the reality: Each NBA team has a pair of two-way contract slots, meaning there are a total of 60 available contracts for players that fit that bill of inexperienced but potentially good. That’s on top of the 450 available roster spots in the league, meaning there are 510 total NBA contracts available.

It seems highly, highly improbable that someone who is not yet occupying one of those available contracts is the top option for the best team in the league.

So, what do the Warriors do?

We’ve covered all the available options, from guards to centers, from G League players to former NBA stars.

Which route does Golden State go in?

If Robin Lopez secures a buyout, I would expect the Warriors to try and sign him. If he doesn’t get bought out (or if he chooses to sign elsewhere), then my guess is they opt for Lee.

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