Nets Forward Pegged as Free Agent Target for Warriors

Yuta Wantanabe and Ben Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets.

Getty Yuta Wantanabe and Ben Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets.

The supporting cast around the Golden State Warriors‘ championship core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green (who could be on the move himself), could be undergoing some changes this summer.

One way that the front office can bring in help for the team’s stars is through free agency. Amongst those on Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley’s list of top Warriors free agent targets, is Brooklyn Nets forward Yuta Wantanabe.

“His 2022-23 breakout was interrupted by the Brooklyn Nets’ deadline dealing, which quickly congested the wing rotation. Watanabe was often squeezed out, which potentially clouds over what was otherwise a convincing campaign. He spent the first half of the season energizing a Nets team that was still championship chasing with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Watanabe, a 6’9″ swingman, consistently made his presence felt with energetic defense, transition attacking and a three-ball that fell at a personal-best rate of 44.4 percent (and a ridiculous 51.4 percent from the corners, per”

Wantanabe would be a solid pickup for the Warriors. For starters, he likely won’t command a massive contract, allowing Golden State to add him without handicapping themselves with the new CBA agreement.

Plus, like Buckley mentioned, his ability to provide shooting with size would allow him to fit nicely into the Dubs’ rotation. He was clearly at his best last season when he was playing alongside the likes of Durant and Irving, who required the bulk of the opposing defense’s focus.

If he were to join the Warriors the gravity of players like Curry and Thompson, even Jordan Poole if he’s still around next fall, would leave plenty of great looks for the Japanese wing.

Wantanabe appeared in a career-high 58 games for the Nets in 2022-23, logging about 16.0 minutes each time. He was only good for about 5.6 points per game, but again the efficiency is the key for him. Wantanabe knocked down 49.1% of his attempts from the floor and 44.4% from distance.

Jonathan Kuminga May Ask Warriors for Trade

The possibility of adding Wantanabe seems even more realistic when taking the Jonathan Kuminga situation into account. The 20-year-old forward has recently expressed frustration with his role in Steve Kerr‘s team.

Reports have even surfaced that he may look to force a trade if he isn’t promised more responsibility next season.

“The Warriors and Kuminga’s representatives are expected to discuss his future this offseason, league sources say,” The Athletic’s Anthony Slater and Shams Charania wrote. “Golden State will need to decide whether Kuminga will receive a full-time role moving forward and, if not, league sources say the No. 7 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft will want to be somewhere he can play more.”

Warriors’ Steve Kerr Wants Jonathan Kuminga to Improve

Kerr addressed Kuminga’s reported frustrations, during a recent appearance on “The TK Show,” hosted by Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. He explained that he’s looking for the young wing to improve multiple aspects of his game in order to earn a larger role next season.

“The minutes are there for him to take at the backup four next year,” he told Kawakami. “He’s gotta make strides, and he and I talked about it. The No. 1 thing is he’s gotta rebound. If he rebounds and he runs the floor, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for him… But he’s entering his third year next year, he’s 20 years old, got a great future ahead. He’s just gotta keep on the same path he’s on. But he’s gotta make those strides, like I said, on the glass and running the floor, diving in pick-and-roll. If he does those things, he’s going to play more, and that’s how you continue to grow and build your game.”

Kerr added that in the postseason, Kuminga’s role shrunk because Kerr wanted to play guys who “could impact winning more.”

“I just went with the guys who I thought could impact winning more,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t mean that we stopped believing in JK by any means. It just means that those were the guys we thought would help us win.”

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