Congratulations to Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damion Lee for signing 21-22 season contracts. JTA signed a guaranteed contract and Damion Lee signed a partially guaranteed contract. This got me thinking about veteran undrafted free agents around the league. It seems like a good number of them have origin stories that involve the Golden State Warriors. These UFAs may not have ultimately stuck with the Warriors because there weren't enough roster spots to go around, but other teams in the NBA were quick to offer them more playing time. How great has the talent identification and development pipeline been?
I did a search for Warriors alumni who were signed as undrafted free agents. My criteria were:
- Since 2010
- First shot at the league was either with Golden State or Santa Cruz
- Signed a multi-year guaranteed contract either with the Warriors or after leaving the Warriors
Here goes…the ones that got away:
GSW/Rookie Season: 2010-2011
Bag(s): 2-years, $1.2M with the Warriors; 3-years, $25M with the Rockets; 1-year, $2.3M with the Hornets, 3-years, $38M with the Nets.
Jeremy Lin walked on with a guaranteed contract right off the bat with the Warriors. And then the Warriors cut him a few months later, giving him the opportunity to sign with New York, and setting the stage for Linsanity. After exploding onto the scene in 2012, he then went on to have a relatively long, up and down career in the NBA, eventually pocketing over $65M by the end of it. It’s the ultimate success story, kicked off by the Warriors taking a chance on an undrafted free agent from Harvard who was snubbed by every NBA team, every Division I school with scholarships, and all the major high school accolade selection committees.
GSW/First Season: 2012-13
Bag(s): 2-years, $1.3M with the Warriors; 2-years, $4M with the Hawks, 4-years, $70M with the Hawks; 1-year, $2.3M with the Warriors; 1-year, $2.4M with the Lakers
Bazemore didn’t play much with the Warriors, but as soon as he did with the Lakers and the Hawks, he made his presence felt as a solid backup guard. The Hawks were so impressed that they gave him a huge 4-year deal and made him a starter for a few years. After his stint with Hawks, he circled back to the Warriors for a year, and then signed with the Lakers, joining Lebron, AD, and portions of the 2011 All-Star team.
GSW/First Season: 2013-2014
Bag(s): 2-years, $5.9M with the Spurs; 2-years, $14.1M with the Hawks; 3-years, $40M with the Kings
Dedmon was a revolving door in and out of the Warriors organization his rookie year, going from Summer League to Santa Cruz, getting waived, then resigning with Santa Cruz, playing a few games with the Warriors, getting waived again, and then finally resigning with Santa Cruz. He then bounced around the NBA and D-league for the next few years, finally playing more minutes in Orlando which he parlayed into his first multi-year deal with the Spurs. He then became a serviceable big for the Hawks and the Kings. Being 7ft certainly helped.
GSW/First Season: 2013-2014 (Santa Cruz)
Bag(s): 2-years, $2.0M with the Kings; 2-years, $5.9M with the Mavericks; 1-year, $2.8M with the Blazers; 4-years, $32M with the Mavericks
Like Jeremy Lin and Dewayne Dedmon, the Warriors identified Seth, signed him (partially guaranteed), and cut him, though in Seth’s case it was before the season even started. After that, he bounced around the league for a while on minimum, partially guaranteed contracts before finding a couple of quality gigs with Dallas and Portland, before getting his big deal with the Mavericks. Now he’s settled into a fabulous role in Philadelphia, shooting for two *wink*.
GSW/First Season: 2017-2018
Bag(s): 2-years, $13.5M with the Raptors
The Warriors elected to pick Jordan Bell with their second round pick and signed Chris Boucher to a two-way contract. Not too shabby. But, then they waived Boucher after a game and kept Jordan Bell instead. Now Boucher is a key role player with Toronto while Jordan Bell charged adult movies to Mike Brown’s room, got traded away, cut, and recently rejoined the Warriors as a non-roster invite. I suppose the Warriors would like a do-over on that one.
GSW/First Season: 2018-2019
Bag(s): 2-years, $10.25M with the Lakers
Nunn signed a partially guaranteed deal with the Warriors. The Warriors never added him to the roster and he spent the remainder of the season in Santa Cruz. He signed a minimum deal with the Heat for the next season and was a valuable contributor during their 2019-20 finals run in the bubble. He apparently passed on deals with more years and more money to sign with the Lakers for the 21-22 season. I don’t know about the decision to deprioritize earnings in favor of a title run for a younger guy, but to each his own.
The Warriors have identified solid UFAs with NBA staying power almost every year since 2010. Is it that Golden State’s talent identification is that strong? Or is it that hard-working, dedicated UFAs who want to improve at their craft self-select for a strong organization that shares their values and will help them achieve their goals? I figure it’s a little of both.
I couldn’t have captured every great GSW UFA alumni, does anyone have additional guys to add to the list? Or who wants to predict the next Warriors UFA alumnus?