Warriors Rumors: Damion Lee ‘Expendable’ After Rough Playoff Showing

Damion Lee

Getty Damion Lee reacts to a play in a Golden State Warriors game.

The Golden State Warriors are expected to do everything they can to keep the core of last season’s championship team intact, but those plans may not include a veteran guard who had a rough showing during the title run.

With free agency about to begin, reports have indicated that the Warriors want to bring back big man Kevon Looney and defensive specialist Gary Payton II, while giving an extension to breakout star Jordan Poole. But reserve guard Damion Lee, who has played on the Warriors for the past four seasons, may need to find a new home next season.

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Final Days for Lee?

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau broke down the free agency priorities for the Warriors, noting that Looney, Payton and backup big man Juan Toscano-Anderson, a restricted free agent, are almost assuredly coming back. But he put the odds at Lee returning at 35%, noting that he had a difficult stretch in the playoffs.

Lee averaged only 2 points in 7.8 minutes per game over the playoffs, while shooting just 38.2% from the field and 25% from behind the 3-point arc. He had a particularly bad showing in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. In a five-minute stretch of the first half, Lee missed a pair of quick 3-pointers, committed two fouls, turned the ball over and got hit with a technical foul. After that game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr gave bigger roles to rookies Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, cutting into Lee’s spot in the rotation.

Letourneau noted that Lee now appears “expendable” after his rough outing.

“Though Lee has proven he’s a legitimate NBA player, his rough showing in the playoffs could make him expendable,” he wrote. “His future with the Warriors should come down to roster space. If they have an extra spot once they’re done signing draft picks and other free agents, they will have no problem inking Lee to a minimum deal.”

The recent NBA Draft could present even more competition for Lee’s roster spot. The Warriors traded up in the second round, giving their No. 51 overall pick and $2 million in cash considerations to the Atlanta Hawks to land Toledo guard Ryan Rollins at No. 44. Warriors general manager Bob Myers said the team had no plans to stash Rollins, instead keeping him on the 15-man roster for the upcoming season.

Lee’s Roster Advantages

While his performance in the playoffs may have put his future with Golden State in doubt, Lee could have an advantage given his expected market value. Letourneau noted that he would likely only land a minimum contract in free agency, which could help him fit back on a Warriors roster that has already put the franchise deep in the luxury tax. Lee also has a strong familial connection, as he is married to Steph Curry’s sister.

Letourneau had previously noted that Lee’s willingness to embrace his role as a bench player also gives him an advantage.

“There is also the fact that they have endeared themselves to the coaching staff as diligent role players,” Letourneau wrote. “If it’s between Toscano-Anderson and Lee or some relative no-names available on a minimum, I’d take Toscano-Anderson and Lee any day.”

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