Recent struggles notwithstanding, it’s difficult to feel bad about where the Golden State Warriors are at the moment. After battling major injuries and missing the playoffs in consecutive years, the team currently sits with a top-four record in the NBA.
Although five-time All-Star Klay Thompson finally returned to the lineup in January, the Warriors largely got to where they are because the other guys — the non-Steph, Klay, Dray contingent — have combined to give the Dubs one of the deepest rotations in the Association.
Unfortunately, the team’s roster could look a whole lot different in 2022-23. As it stands, only eight players are under contract for next season. And that lot alone already has the club deep into the luxury-tax zone.
As such, Warriors GM Bob Myers will have a number of difficult decisions to make in rounding out his crew. However, one player in particular may present the biggest dilemma.
B/R: Looney Will Be the Toughest Call
Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes just put out his list of the toughest free-agency decisions facing every team in the Association this offseason. Where the Warriors are concerned, he landed on starting big man Kevon Looney, writing:
Looney has battled through multiple hip surgeries in his career, exhibiting a level of toughness and commitment that has endeared him to teammates and fans alike. He’s started every game this season, and his understanding of how to play within Golden State’s movement-heavy offense makes him more valuable than his averages of 6.4 points and 7.6 rebounds would suggest.
Again, though, there’s a lot more than Looney’s production and his intimate knowledge of Steve Kerr’s system to consider here; the Warriors have some serious cap constraints. As such, the big man may be prompted to seek a bigger payday elsewhere, even if the team does try to keep him:
The tax-hit Dubs are paying him $5.2 million this season, and it seems unlikely they’ll shell out that much for 2022-23. Maybe Looney will come back for less, but it’s not often a 26-year-old player willingly returns to minimum-salary status after escaping it.
One thing working in Golden State’s favor: Looney isn’t the playmaking, three-point shooting five that teams covet in the modern NBA, which could impact his market.
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Role Players Get an Opportunity
The Warriors were back in action on Monday night, falling short against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in Denver. However, the loss was wholly unsurprising as Kerr was without most of his big guns for the fight.
Stephen Curry, Thompson and Andrew Wiggins all got the night off, while Draymond Green, James Wiseman, Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala continued to be out due to injury. As such, the aforementioned “other guys” were asked to shoulder the load. And, for the most part, they acquitted themselves well.
Jordan Poole and Moses Moody each scored 30-plus points, while Jonathan Kuminga chipped in with 16 and Quinndary Weatherspoon added 11.
For his part, Looney — who scored 13 points of his own — believes the extra run and responsibility will pay dividends for the Dubs’ support team.
“It benefits the whole group,” Looney said before the contest, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “Last time, I think it was against San Antonio. We got to really see [Jonathan Kuminga] and Moses [Moody] step up and I wouldn’t expect anything different. [Jordan Poole], he’s usually the leader for us when guys are out, so I expect guys like JP, JK, Moses and [Damion Lee] to get back in the rotation. Juan [Toscano-Anderson], everybody’s gonna step up and do what they do.”