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Mailbag: Wiseman’s role, Draymond’s future, and more

Answering all your Warriors questions.

James Wiseman talking to Draymond Green on the court Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors play a game this month! Sure, it’s a preseason game, but who cares: Warriors basketball is coming to a TV near you before you turn the calendar.

So it seemed like a good time to do a mailbag. Let’s dive into the fun.

Being a valuable contributor off of the bench, even in a small role.

Wiseman will forever be the name that pops into our heads when we think of Steve Kerr’s infamous “chasing wins” quote. Kerr started Wiseman in the 2020-21 season, letting the rookie develop on the fly even though it cost the team chances to succeed in the short term.

That won’t happen much this year. With a championship team eyeing a repeat title, Kerr will, indeed, be chasing wins. We saw it last year in his usage of rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody: they got a few flyers, but mostly played only when they could help the team.

It’s realistic for Wiseman to play between 12 and 20 minutes a night this year, but he’ll only be given the high end of those minutes if he’s contributing. And that’s realistic, too. I think the goal should simply to be an asset in those minutes. To provide a strong pick-and-roll threat, make the occasional three, perform better on the boards, and hold his own on defense enough that his offense can shine through.

It will be a fascinating year for him.

It’s really hard to say, because we don’t know how they’ll look when they become free agents. Klay Thompson still has two years left on his deal. Draymond Green has one year, with an option for a second year. Will they be All-NBA talents on a championship team when they hit free agency? Or will they be sentimental fan favorites on a team transitioning to their next era?

Either way, Klay is much, much more likely to take a big pay cut than Dray, and not just because of the reports that Green is seeking a max contract and willing to go outside the organization to find it.

First, Thompson has more room to take a pay cut than Green does. He’s making $15 million more than Dray this year, and he’ll make $16 million more in 2023-24 if Green opts into the final year of his deal. He’s lived the max contract life, which Dray has not. He can shave a lot of money off his deal and still be making bank, which Dray cannot.

Second and more importantly, Thompson’s recent contract has taken great care of him. The Warriors signed him to a max contract less than three weeks after he tore his ACL, knowing he wouldn’t be available for the first year of the deal, and knowing he might never be the same player. They paid him nearly $33 million in 2019-20 knowing good and well that he wouldn’t play a single game. He got paid more than $35 million (more than 150% of Green’s salary) in 2020-21 while, again, not playing a single game.

The Warriors stars don’t exactly have a cuddly relationship with Joe Lacob, as evidenced by Klay thanking Bob Myers when he talks about the team investing in him. But it’s not lost on Klay that the Dubs gave him a max contract without thinking twice, knowing he wouldn’t play the first year. It’s not lost on him that, three years into that five-year deal, he’s collected about $2 million for every game he’s played. He’s not going to take a pay cut to fatten Lacob’s pockets, but he’s definitely going to enter free agency feeling like the Warriors have taken care of him. I’m not sure we can say the same about Green.

Can’t say for sure, because it depends not just on how well they play, but on how well Wiseman, Donte DiVincenzo, and JaMychal Green play, how healthy the team stays, and whether or not Andre Iguodala returns.

But I would expect them each to play fairly regular minutes. Off the bat, Kuminga probably plays around 15-20 minutes a night, and Moody around 10-15, but without the DNP-CDs that they both received a year ago. Both players have the opportunity to make an impact, but the Dubs won’t rely too heavily on either. I think it’ll be a fluid situation.

That said, I expect both Kuminga and Moody to become high-quality bench players this year, which would see them playing key roles by the end of the season.

The most succinct way that I can explain any and all repeater tax questions is this: the Warriors owe a crap ton of tax payments for every single contract on the books. It’s too early to start thinking about a Klay extension, but the Warriors will definitely want to get something handled with Poole.

October 18 — opening night — is the deadline to extend Poole. There’s no guarantee that the sides can agree to a deal before then, but the Warriors will certainly be invested in it.

I haven’t heard of anything involving the young players, other than the ones on last year’s roster posing for the camera at Draymond’s wedding. But the Warriors, fresh off a long postseason run, were always unlikely to do much in the way of offseason workouts. It’s these next days before camp starts that we’ll probably start hearing about stories with the younger players.

Still no updates. The Warriors hold their cards close to their chest. I’m sure we’ll hear news when camp opens, but I don’t think there’s any reason for concern.

Two of the three will get signed long-term. Draymond will be one of them. He might be the most tumultuous but, unless the Warriors absolutely bomb this year, I don’t see them parting with the best defensive player in the world, whom Steph Curry has tied his anchor to.

It’s a coin flip between Poole and Andrew Wiggins. If the Warriors had to make that decision right now, I believe they would re-sign Wiggins. But a lot can happen in the next year. I’ve been open about my opinion that they should prioritize Poole over Wiggins, and I believe this next year will prove that.

Still, if I have to make a prediction, I’d say Poole is, reluctantly, the odd man out. Especially since they can potentially extend him this year and then trade him instead of just letting him walk.

Can you imagine what the betting line would have been on Wiggins leading the Warriors in three-point shooting last year?

But no. It will not happen again. He benefits from the Warriors spacing, and he’s improved his shot, but his 39.3% mark last year was just the third time in his career that he shot 34% or better. Meanwhile Curry and Thompson shot under 40% for the first time in their careers (excluding Curry’s five-game season in 2019-20).

I would expect Wiggins to have a strong three-point season, and hopefully we’ll see increased volume from him there, in place of some mid-rangers. But he’ll negatively regress, and the Splash Bros will positively regress. There’s no shame in not repeating as the best three-point percentage on a team with the two greatest shooters in NBA history.

Thanks to everyone for the great questions!

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