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Nico Mannion is headed to Italy

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The point guard will not play for the Warriors this year, but they will retain his rights.

2020 Tokyo Olympics: Italy v France Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

You’re not going to watch Nico Mannion play basketball this year, unless you’re a fan of international hoops. The Golden State Warriors 20-year old point guard, who was the No. 48 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, is signing a deal with Virtus Bologna in Italy’s Serie A, the top professional basketball league in Italy.

Because the Warriors extended the qualifying offer to Mannion, they will retain his rights. Whenever he decides to return to the NBA, he will be a restricted free agent, and the Warriors can match any contract extended to him.

This comes a day after the Warriors signed 25-year old point guard Chris Chiozza to a two-way contract, and now it becomes very apparent why that move was made.

It’s something of a best-case scenario for both the Warriors and Mannion.

From Golden State’s perspective, they don’t have to try and find space on the roster for another project, with James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody already occupying spots. They’re fans of Mannion’s potential — he was projected by many to be a lottery pick going into the 2019-20 college season — and Steve Kerr likes him a lot. But he’s not ready to contribute to a contending team yet, so now the Dubs get to wait and see if he can develop into a quality player before burning a roster spot on him.

And for Mannion — who is Italian-American — he’ll get a chance to develop with starting minutes in a quality league, rather than by sitting on the end of an NBA bench or bouncing between San Francisco and Santa Cruz.

Win-win.