The Golden State Warriors have at least one roster spot to fill before the start of next season, and could look to fill it by revisiting one of last season’s most controversial roster moves.
The Warriors went into the last preseason with an open competition for the 15th and final roster spot. It ultimately went to defensive-minded guard Gary Payton II, over the objections of some of the Warriors’ star play who preferred former Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley. With more room on the roster this offseason, the Warriors could once again give Bradley a look.
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Bradley Remains a Free Agent Option
The Warriors currently have 13 players under guaranteed contract, and The Athletic’s Anthony Slater reports that the team is holding the 14th spot in case veteran Andre Iguodala decides to return for another NBA season. The team is leaving some flexibility to the 15th spot, either for an open competition at training camp like last season or by leaving it vacant to save on tax money, Slater reported.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told Slater that the team isn’t rushing a decision from Iguodala.
“I leave Andre alone,” Kerr said. “He knows where we stand. If he wants to come back, we’d love to have him. The one thing we feel strongly about with Andre is we want to give him whatever space and time he needs to make a decision. I’m leaving him alone. Whenever he makes his decision is fine with us.”
Between Igudoala’s impending decision and the potential for an open camp battle for the 15th spot, the Warriors have room to add another veteran, and Bradley could fit the bill. The team thought highly enough of Bradley to bring him in last season, and Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports pegged Bradley as one of the best remaining unrestricted free agents on the market and a potentially valuable contributor for a contender.
“He’s not going to lock down the opponents’ best perimeter players for extended amounts of time, but he could still make things difficult for stretches.” Kaskey-Blomain wrote. “Plus, he can still space the floor on the other end. Just last season he shot 39 percent from long range with the Lakers.”
Bradley played 62 games for the Lakers last season, averaging 6.4 points in 22.7 minutes per game. While the Warriors are reportedly high on rookie guard Ryan Rollins, Kerr has a history of bringing rookies along slowly. Bradley could take a spot in the rotation as Rollins adjusts and recovers from a fracture in his foot that was discovered in his initial physical with the team.
Bradley Had Support of Warriors Vets
The veteran point guard had plenty of support in his last bid to make the Warriors roster. The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II reported last year that Steph Curry, Draymond Green and other veterans advocated for the Warriors to put Bradley on the roster. Though Bradley had an up-and-down preseason, slowly losing his grip on a spot in the rotation, the Warriors vets believed he would help in the playoffs.
“The almost 31-year-old entering his 12th season didn’t look especially impactful in his preseason run,” Thompson wrote. “But those who favored Bradley weren’t at all concerned about how a proven veteran looked in preseason. Instead, they saw Bradley as someone with the credibility to help their hopes for a deep playoff run.”
Payton ended up filling that role to perfection, averaging 7 points per game in the NBA Finals on 59% shooting, while drawing some of the most difficult assignments. Payton has since moved on, signing a $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.