The Golden State Warriors are giving a vote of confidence to a longtime fixture of the second unit, but some fans are not so sure it’s a worthwhile investment.
Michael Scotto of USA Today’s Hoops Hype reported this week that the Warriors reached a decision on backup guard Damion Lee, who has been with Golden State since 2018.
“The Golden State Warriors will guarantee Damion Lee’s contract for the rest of the season, league sources told @hoopshype. Lee is averaging 8.3 points so far this season,” he tweeted.
The decision ignited some debate among fans, who were split on whether Lee is a solid addition or if the team should be looking for an upgrade. It even drew in some Warriors insiders, who offered a defense of the veteran guard.
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Lee’s Future in Golden State
The news of Lee’s guaranteed contract elicited a vocal response from some of his critics, who failed to see the benefit be brought to Golden State’s second unit. Many disagreed with the new contract guarantee and implored the team to use his minutes elsewhere.
Some suggested that Lee’s relationship to Steph Curry could be the real reason he holds down a roster spot. Lee is married to Curry’s sister, Sydel, and the two welcomed their first child earlier this year.
But Sam Esfandiari, host of the podcast “Light Years” covering the Warriors, backed Lee and the contributions he makes to the team.
“They really compare him to Klay and think ‘oh well he must suck,’ ” he tweeted, referring to Lee’s critics. Esfandiari added that Lee stacks up well against other backup guards around the league.
Lee has averaged 8.3 points per game in 20.7 minutes this season, making 44% of his shots from the field and 34.7% from behind the three-point arc.
Lee’s Role Could Be Changing
Regardless of the guaranteed contract, Lee will likely see a diminished role for the remainder of the season with the return of Klay Thompson, who will be back in the lineup on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. His return means that Jordan Poole moves into a sixth-man role, making him the primary scorer off the bench. Poole is averaging 17.8 points per game, and has shown an ability to take over games when needed. When Curry was struggling against the Miami Heat — scoring just 9 points — Poole came off the bench and poured in game-high 32 to help lead the Warriors to victory.
“It was huge. We needed all of his 32 points,” coach Steve Kerr said after the game, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “The early foul trouble with Steph, it changed our rotations. What a luxury it is to be able to come off the bench with a guy who started the first (28) games . . . Jordan has turned into a critical player for us and remains to be critical with all the guys coming back.”
But there could still be plenty of opportunities for Lee, and Kerr hinted that he will roll out some lineups where Poole, Curry, and Thompson are on the court at the same time.
“I’m sure that will happen,” Kerr said. “It will be a great shooting lineup, and when Klay comes back, we’ll have a lot of different combinations that we will look at.”