The Santa Cruz Warriors - the G League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors - have signed 6-foot-6 former NBA wing Jonathon Simmons. Normally G League signings aren’t particularly notable, but this one is worth talking about.
Now, let’s touch on some technicalities first. While the Santa Cruz Warriors are Golden State’s affiliate, Golden State has no more of a right to Simmons’ services than any other team does. In the NBA, you get the rights to the players on your roster, plus the two-way contracts. Anyone on your G League affiliate is free game, meaning any NBA team can sign that player with no obstacles.
That said, Santa Cruz and Golden State work together, and Golden State uses the G League as much or more than any other team in terms of developing a pipeline. There was last year, when Santa Cruz hid Alen Smailagic so that they could draft him, and the team has been running the same offensive sets as Golden State for some time. So this move likely has Golden State’s fingerprints on it.
After the Warriors traded six players (D’Angelo Russell, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, Willie Cauley-Stein, Omari Spellman, and Jacob Evans III) prior to the deadline, and received only one (Andrew Wiggins) in return, the team has been needing to add players to the roster. Part of that has come through guaranteeing the deals of their two-way contracts (Marquese Chriss and Ky Bowman) and other prospects (Juan Toscano-Anderson), and part of it has come through 10-day contracts.
Shortly after the deadline, the Warriors signed Jeremy Pargo and Zach Norvell Jr. to 10-day contracts. After the contracts expired, Pargo went his merry way, while Norvell went to Santa Cruz, where reports stated that the Warriors are interested in bringing him back at some point. A third 10-day contract was then given to Dragan Bender, who is currently in day three of that contract.
In other words, it seems likely that the Warriors are adding Simmons to their G League affiliate so that they can get him comfortable with the system, and then offer the 30-year old a 10-day contract.
Simmons has had a truly bizarre NBA journey. After going undrafted in 2012, he joined the American Basketball League, and then, on a tryout he had to pay for, the G League (then called the D League). After a few years, he made it to the NBA level, and joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2015-16.
He saw a serious role with the team that year, and an even bigger one in 2016-17. An injury to Kawhi Leonard opened the door for Simmons to play an even bigger role in the 2017 playoffs, and he came through, averaging 10.5 points per game while shooting 35.1% from deep.
Somehow that was enough to get the Orlando Magic to give him a three-year, $20 million contract as he approached his age-28 season. He struggled in Orlando, was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, where he struggled some more, and was eventually waived.
He hasn’t played a game this year, but is hoping to get something going in the Warriors organization.