The Golden State Warriors are bringing back big man Kevon Looney on a multi-year deal, a big win for the defending champs after seeing a couple of key pieces walk away in free agency.
Looney’s deal is for three years and $25.5 million, per ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski who first reported the deal.
It’s a key move for the Warriors after watching Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. sign with new teams as free agents. The champs also let Juan Toscano-Anderson walk, with the fan-favorite wing signing with the Lakers.
The Warriors don’t mind spending but can’t overpay for their free agents. Looney took less to return to the Warriors, per Marc Stein.
“Some rival teams were projecting Kevon Looney to return to the Warriors at 3/30 or even 4/40. For Golden State to retain him at $8+ million annually is another win for the reigning champs,” Stein tweeted.
Warriors Were Adamant About Keeping Kevon Looney
The Warriors entered free agency willing to spend on their own guys, although their luxury tax situation put them in a precarious spot.
“We’ll look and see what we can do and I’ll ask Joe what he would authorize, but there is a limit. It’s not limitless,” general manager Bob Myers said before free agency started. “I would like it to be limitless, but trust me, it’s not. You’ve got to have some constraints on a salary.”
Among their impending free agents, Looney was their big fish.
“We certainly want all those guys,” Myers said. “We’ve made that clear to them. We’ve made that clear to the world. They know how much they mean to us. I think they enjoyed it here; they all were successful in different ways. So, we’re going to try our best to bring (Looney) back.”
Looney is coming off his best and most consistent year as a pro, averaging 6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, filling a key role for the Warriors. More importantly, Looney was an iron man for Golden State, playing in all 82 regular-season games and all 22 playoff games.
He came up big in the postseason, starting 13 games and providing a strong defensive presence in the paint when his number was called.
His masterpiece was a career-high 21 points to go with 12 rebounds during the Western Conference Finals, even receiving MVP chants from the Chase Center crowd.
“Loon, what more do we need to say about Loon?” Kerr said on June 22. “He’s a championship center, modern-day defender, switch defender, which is what it takes in the playoffs. As the 30th pick in the draft seven years ago, the way he’s developed, the way he’s worked, the way he has become such a big part of our internal leadership and our fabric, he’s a huge component to our success.”
Nemanja Bjelica Bolts for Euroleague
Nemanja Bjelica was another free agent the Warriors wouldn’t have minded keeping around. However, he decided instead to head to the Euroleague, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
“The Warriors were interested in bringing Nemanja Bjelica back on the veteran minimum, but they were informed today he has opted to leave the NBA entirely for a preferred situation on one of his former teams. Another rotation player lost,” Slater tweeted.
So while the Warriors still have their key pieces in place, the rotation will need a rebuild. There are also contract extensions looming for Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, who will approach max-level money.