How are the Golden State Warriors going to tackle the challenge of next season? Without stalwart Klay Thompson or the dynamic Kevin Durant, it’s no secret that the 2019-2020 roster is going to lack some of the punch of previous iterations.
How the team addresses these shortfalls is going to define what is and isn’t possible next season — and all of this will unfold in the next month or two.
Let’s start at the wings, since that’s where the absence of Durant and Thompson will be most keenly felt, and that’s where the team appears to have the largest systemic concern. The Warriors’ brass previously called the NBA’s hunger for shooters as a “market inefficiency,” meaning that as a category, they’ve become relatively expensive. But that sentiment can’t exist here much longer because stuffing Steph Curry into an offense can’t solve all your problems.
Alfonzo McKinnie will be back, his $1.4 million non-guaranteed team option is one of the easier decisions. Another easy decision, the guy who he outplayed in the playoffs, Jonas Jerebko, is likely gone. Though the team can offer a one-year, $3 million contract, I don’t see them doing so, unless it’s some sort of end of the year deal like Andrew Bogut (also not coming back). It’s not that Jerebko was bad per se, but given how unplayable he looked in some of the more non-traditional lineups Golden State was forced to play in the Finals, I feel pretty comfortable saying backup wing is a position where the Warriors would like to improve.
The ball handlers
Assuming Livingston retires, and assuming Cook returns, the Warriors still need more ball handling. The team generally prefers players that can reliably dribble, pass, and shoot, but they’ll need to prioritize at least one player that can serve as the team’s primary ball handler when Curry isn’t on the court.
Quinn Cook is an option; he’s got a pretty reasonable $1.9 million qualifying offer that will make him a restricted free agent so that’s probably something the Warriors would do since he’s shown utility and knows our system, though his size is something of a liability.
So it’s almost certain that the Warriors will chase someone new in free agency here, whether that be two players or one that could fill both roles.
Damian Jones will be back on a guaranteed deal, but his play to date would seem to indicate that the Warriors will need some sort of additional assistance in the middle. Some of this will be predicated by what happens to Looney, but regardless, I expect the Warriors to bring in someone else who is big enough to play a traditional center role.
Jordan Bell presents an interesting case. Dirt cheap, athletic, and familiar with the system here, he checks a lot of boxes. But, he has also struggled to stay out of coach Steve Kerr’s doghouse. A series of on- and off-court snafus complicate what would normally be an easy decision. Given his marginal nature, I expect Bell’s free agency to be one of the final decisions this offseason.
Ok, here’s where it gets fun! Who on Earth will the Warriors target? And of those targets, which are obtainable given the team’s salary and playing time limitations (though playing time would seem to be less of an obstacle, given the extent of injuries to Durant and Thompson - two of our heaviest minutes eaters)?
My list of UFAs that could interest GSW on MLE or vet min (they may be worth more but meaningful roles are avail)— Grant Liffmann (@GrantLiffmann) June 17, 2019
Ariza, Bender, Bullock, Carroll, Curry, Ellington, Gay, G. Green, J. Green, Holiday, RHJ, Hood, Lin, R. Lopez, Matthews, Miller, Mirotic, Redick, Rivers, Ross, Scott