The Golden State Warriors dramatically shook things up in the first day of free agency, when they worked out a rare double sign and trade. Kevin Durant opted to leave the Warriors and join the Brooklyn Nets, but the Warriors were able to bring back D’Angelo Russell in the process, on a four-year, $117 million contract.
But that contract might not be in the Bay Area for very long. Russell, a 23-year old combo guard who was named an All-Star injury replacement early this year, may be on the move eventually.
According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Warriors long-term plans don’t involve the former number two overall pick. Instead, they just wanted to get some value back, rather than lose Durant for nothing.
"De'Angelo Russell does not fit there whatsoever. They just did not want to see Kevin Durant walk out the door with no compensation. ... They will trade him. It's just a matter of when." - @TheSteinLine on @dpshow— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) July 1, 2019
The details of the move can certainly be debated. By taking on Russell’s contract, the Warriors had to trade Andre Iguodala, and have backed themselves into a corner financially. Maybe it was a good move, and maybe it wasn’t.
But the overall idea is smart. With Durant announcing his decision to leave town, the Warriors were left with the prospect of losing an all-time great player, and getting nothing in return. Now they at least get a valuable asset.
The Warriors cannot trade Russell this offseason, unless he agrees to a new location prior to July 6, when the deal would actually be finalized. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait until January to make a trade.
Still, Russell should have plenty of trade value. The large contract will likely keep the Warriors from getting anything great in return, but Russell was drawing lots of interest from teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Phoenix Suns at that price point. He’ll be easy to move if the Warriors go that route.
Warriors beat reporter Mark Medina added a few extra details, noting that the team’s interest in Russell was as a player, a trade chip, and a tool that could help their payroll in the future.
Warriors are intrigued with D'Angelo Russell at least for the next six months as a player and then a chip afterwards. Overall, the Warriors made moves on Sunday to help lower their payroll so they have more spending power to build around Steph, Klay & Draymond next summer. https://t.co/EKUeuzu2Xv— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 1, 2019
One thing is clear: The Warriors went big on the first day of free agency. They are not going away quietly.
We’ll have to wait and see what direction they’re really aiming for, though.
UPDATE: Here is a clip of Stein’s quote, courtesy of AT&T AUDIENCE Network.
Stein’s quote came on The Dan Patrick Show, which airs daily from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. PT on the AT&T AUDIENCE network.