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Mailbag: Is Jordan Poole gone, and what free agents remain?

Answering all of your questions about the Warriors.

Jordan Poole and Andre Iguodala practicing together Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors first preseason game is a month away, so it’s as good a time as any to dive into another mailbag. Dub Nation asked some great questions, and I tried my best to answer them all.

No, I don’t think so. The point of making a trade would be to lower their payroll. But they have to match salaries in a trade, which means they’re taking that money right back. So the only way they get anything worthwhile if they trade Andrew Wiggins or Draymond Green is if they get back that salary on an expiring contract from a team that’s willing to throw in some exciting future assets as well.

Even if that were feasible — and I really, really don’t think it is — is it worth severely damaging their championship odds this year? I sure don’t think so.

So that leaves trading Jordan Poole, who isn’t yet on a big contract, as the only option. The Warriors could get a really good player for Poole, but they’re not getting like-for-like. They’ll be worse this year as they chase a championship, and they’ll punt their opportunity to re-sign Poole if he takes another leap, or if Wiggins regresses, or whatever. Not worth the risk, at all.

Of course they could always go the route of keeping Green, Wiggins, and Poole, and instead offloading Klay Thompson’s contract. The only realistic way they could do that while getting back an expiring contract is to send him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Russell Westbrook, which ... look, I’m just going to move on to the next question now.

If Kevon Looney isn’t starting in the playoffs next year it’s because one of two things happened. And that thing is either very good (James Wiseman breaks out) or very bad (Looney gets hurt).

I highly doubt that Wiseman will be a better player than Looney this year. Highly, highly doubt it. And even if he were, he’d have to be so much better that it’s worth taking the chemistry hit of bailing on the guy who’s been building a rapport with Thompson, Green, and Steph Curry for years.

Let’s hope for Wiseman to be a force by the time the playoffs role around, but him earning the starting role is asking for too much, I think.

Taking these two questions together. Poole will be a restricted free agent next offseason, but it’s been reported that the Warriors are unwilling to spend what will be necessary to re-sign him, Wiggins, and Green.

Which means the answer to the question Is Jordan Poole leaving? is ... maybe?

Barring something weird, the question really should come down to whether the Warriors want to keep Poole or Wiggins. Anyone who reads this blog or follows me on Twitter knows where I stand: I’d thank Wiggins for his incredible 2021-22 season, give him a gorgeous championship ring (hopefully two), give him a standing ovation every time he enters Chase Center, and send him packing eight days a week.

But do the Warriors agree with me? Right now I don’t think they do. If they had to make the decision today, I’d predict that they keep Wiggins and let Poole leave in free agency. But they’re not having to make this decision today, thankfully, and perhaps the most fascinating storyline of the season for the Dubs — other than the whole Can they win another championship? thing — is if either player can emerge as the clear choice.

As for Poole’s rookie extension, the deadline is October 18 — the same day that the Warriors kick off the season by raising a banner in front of the Lakers. There’s a lot of incentive for the Warriors to get a deal done by then, so that if they do pick Wiggins over Poole, they can trade JP rather than let him walk for nothing. But there may be less incentive for Poole, who could play himself into an even bigger contract with another step forward, and potentially get to pick his destination in free agency.

The Warriors have remained mum on status of their rookies’ feet. The team didn’t seem concerned on draft day or before Summer League, and I can’t imagine much has changed. But we probably won’t hear anything for a few more weeks.

I don’t think so. If anything, RJ Barrett’s four-year deal — worth up to $120 million — hurts Poole, because it takes the one team that is reliably willing to make silly contract decisions off the market before Poole even reaches free agency. I’m mostly joking, but only mostly. I don’t think anyone would be shocked to see the New York Knicks, if they had the cap space, throw everything possible at Poole.

Bad contracts happen in the NBA. I still think the deals of Anfernee Simons (four years, $100 million) and Jalen Brunson (four years, $104 million) will set the table for Poole. Bad contracts don’t really determine the market, just as Timofey Mozgov signing a four year, $64 million deal didn’t do anything except give us another reason to laugh at the Lakers.

It takes multiple teams overpaying for it to actually set the market. For now, Poole’s market is set by the other young guards — guards he’s better than, I should add — who were paid properly.

Second lineup questions are always hard to answer because, at the risk of copping out, what constitutes a second lineup? Gone are the days where the five starters would sit while a new starting five takes over. Now it’s just a rotating crop of a few bench players and a few starters.

So I’ll take this as an opportunity to construct a lineup with neither Curry nor Green, and say that I’m very interested in a lineup of Poole, Donte DiVincenzo, Thompson, Wiggins, and Jonathan Kuminga. That would be an incredibly fun team that would be absolutely electric in transition.

Andre Iguodala!

I say that half jokingly. While a lot of Dub Nation has soured on Iguodala, I actually think he’s still a quality player and a very good fit on this team. But I also bring his name up because he’s probably the only realistic option left. Realistic in the sense that he’s probably the only free agent that the Dubs are actually open to signing.

But, hypothetically, let’s pretend the Warriors are in the market for another name. Three players stand out to me: Dennis Schröder, Hassan Whiteside, and Carmelo Anthony.

Schröder is not far removed from being a starting-caliber player, and in the right system — while trying to rebuild his value — I think he could be a very good player once more. Do the Warriors need another ball-dominant guard? Not at all. But good players are good players and you can’t have too many of them.

Whiteside, if we assume the Warriors aren’t concerned about him off the court (and that’s a big “if”), is the most talented player available, in my eyes. Despite all the .... err ... stuff that surrounds him, Whiteside is an excellent defensive player and one of the league’s best rebounders, as well as a highly-efficient scorer. To be frank, he’s really good. His reputation just isn’t. With Wiseman still being a gigantic question mark, the Warriors could do a lot worse than adding a starting-caliber center to back up Looney.

And Melo is ... look, he’s not a very good player anymore, but since scaling back his role the last few years he’s seen his offensive efficiency take off. The Warriors are a great defensive team and a mediocre offensive team, and a 10-15 minutes per night player who can give a scoring burst off the bench wouldn’t hurt them.

But I think they’re done making moves, other than Iguodala.

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