Golden State Warriors fans will not get their wish to fill the final roster spot after a popular big man chose a conference rival over a potential return to the Warriors.
Marquese Chriss spent the last season and a half with the Warriors but hit free agency this summer. He has now inked a non-guaranteed contract with the Portland Trail Blazers, ending the hope of some fans that he would return for another year. It also leaves uncertainty about how the Warriors will round out the roster, a decision that could still be several months away.
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Chriss Picks Portland
As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported, Chriss opted to take a non-guaranteed deal with the Blazers, allowing him to compete for a spot in training camp. Chriss is returning from a broken leg suffered in December, but Charania noted that he’s fully back to health and ready to compete.
The injury had limited Chriss to just two games with the Warriors last season, but the previous year he averaged 9.3 points and 6.2 rebounds in 59 games, playing a little over 20 minutes per game.
As SB Nation’s Daniel Hardee noted, the 2016 lottery pick appeared to have a bright future with the Warriors before the injury cut his time short, and many fans had been rooting for his return.
“After bouncing around the league for years, the former #8 overall pick Chriss emerged as reliable option in the 2020 season at the center spot for the Dubs,” Hardee wrote. “He was a reclamation project that paid immediate dividends, as his athleticism and passing IQ flourished in Golden State’s system.”
Warriors Have Other Plans
While fans may have wished to see the big man return to the Bay, it appears that the Warriors front office has other plans. The team has kept the 15th and final roster spot open, while looking at several potential options to fill it. As Bay Area News Group’s Wes Goldberg reported, the team tweaked the contract of Gary Payton II to push back his partial roster guarantee to give him a look in training camp. The Warriors also signed guard Chris Chiozza to a two-way contract that could put him in roster contention.
Free-agent guard Darren Collison is another, somewhat unconventional option for the final roster spot. The veteran had announced his retirement after the end of the 2018-19 season but is looking to make a comeback, and NBC Sports Bay Area contributor Alex Didion noted that he could have a chance to snag a contract. The team is looking to jump back into title contention with the expected return of Klay Thompson, and Didion wrote that Collison could be a strong addition to the second unit.
“Now 34, Collison could bring some additional veteran leadership to the Warriors’ bench and be a reliable backup to Steph Curry at the point,” Didion wrote. “The Warriors have one roster spot remaining going into this season, with Gary Payton II also being a prime candidate for that spot based on his strong Summer League performance and defensive ability. Depending on how Collison’s workout goes this week, he might end up being the recipient of that 15th and final roster slot.”