Golden State Warriors' Top Free Agent Target at Every Position

Scott BurnsCorrespondent IIIMay 14, 2013

Golden State Warriors' Top Free Agent Target at Every Position

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    The Golden State Warriors have had a lot of surprising playoff success, but it is not too early to think about the top free agent targets at every position.  Yes, the Warriors want to build upon the strong foundation that is currently set in place, so they can improve to new levels next season.

    The biggest problem that the team runs up against is the salary cap.  With the new collective bargaining agreement in place, teams can no longer spend at will.

    Warriors’ management is very cognizant of the new tax system in place under the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), as they traded Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins to get below the mark.  Teams are going to be hit hard with penalties if they go over the tax threshold, and now there is an even stiffer penalty for the repeat offenders.

    Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ provides a chart that breaks down the penalties.

    Here is a quick summary of the rates applied to first-time violators:

    • $0 to $4.99 million over pays a rate of $1.50 for every dollar above the tax level
    • $5 million to $9.99 million over pays a rate of $1.75
    • $10 million to $14.99 million over pays a rate of $2.50
    • $15 million to $19.99 million over pays a rate of $3.25
    • $20 million and above pays $3.75 and an additional $0.50 for every additional $5 million

    The Warriors currently are bordering the $70.3 million salary cap this season, but they are set to go over it next season.

Point Guard

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    Their current point guard, Steph Curry has transitioned himself from a constantly injured question mark to a bona fide top 10 or even top five player in the NBA during the playoff run.  Management was smart to trust their gut instinct and lock up Curry for a very modest, 4-year, and $44 million extension.

    As for the back-up point guard, Jarrett Jack will become a free agent at season’s end.  At times, he is a little careless with the ball, but he has made clutch shot after clutch shot to continue their season.

    Jack will be looking for a significant bump from the current $5.58 million salary he is receiving this season.  He has hinted that he wants to stay, but he might get a more generous offer from one of the other teams in the Association.

    If the Warriors don’t re-sign Jack, the number one target should be Will Bynum of the Detroit Pistons.  He started his career with the Warriors back in 2005-06 and played at the same college as Jack, Georgia Tech.

    He is a cheaper option than Jack as he was paid $3.25 million last season and he is used to coming off the bench.  He put up a line of 9.8 PPG, 3.6 APG and 1.5 RPG.  He can hit the three-pointer, but he will need to work on his accuracy since he shot 31.6 percent from behind the arc last season.

Shooting Guard

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    Klay Thompson took over for Monta Ellis after the blockbuster trade last season and has not looked back.  He has improved his skill level and is now the lockdown defender on the team. 

    The team has control of Thompson for at least the next two years at a very reasonable price.  He will be making $3.25 million next season and is definitely progressing besides Steph Curry.

    Brandon Rush is the backup shooting guard, but he was injured for the year in the second game of the season and he has a team-favorable player option of $4 million for next season.  Rush is another big-time defender, and he would suit the team’s continual ascent up the defensive food chain.

    The player that the Warriors need to look at is Kyle Korver from the Atlanta Hawks.  He can play both the shooting guard and shooting forward positions and he is known for his presence behind the arc.

    He had a reputation of being a weaker defender, but he has improved on that during the past couple of seasons.  With the new defensive focus of Coach Mark Jackson, Korver could fit in well with this team, especially if his salary stays close to $5 million he is making this season.

Small Forward

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    Harrison Barnes has shed his “rookie” tag during the post-season and has had large contributions in Warriors’ wins.  He is realizing his potential after not playing at a consistent level throughout the regular season.

    There is a backlog of depth at the three position with rookie Draymond Green and veteran Richard Jefferson backing up Barnes at the position.  Potential free-agent Brandon Rush is also a possibility at this position, since he can rotate between positions.

    Chase Budinger of the Minnesota Timberwolves is an ideal target for the Warriors with a salary of under $1 million.  He has all of the tools of a rangy small forward and can extend the court to shoot the three.

    The swingman tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee and missed most of the regular season.  However, when he returned, he contributed on the same level as before he had left.  

    He had a line of 9.4 PPG, 1.1 APG and 3.1 RPG, which are not too far off from his three-year career totals.  If Minnesota can’t sign Budinger, he would be an ideal addition to this up-and-coming Warriors' team.

Power Forward

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    David Lee put together his arguably best season as a professional this season by earning an All-Star invite and making it to the playoffs for the first time in his career.  He will be around until the end of the 2015-16 season, unless he is eventually dealt to free up cap-space or for younger talent.

    Carl Landry received bonus time this season as Lee’s backup, because he had to fill in with smaller lineups for the injured Andrew Bogut.  Landry used his instant offense and physical play to stand out and help the Warriors win close games.

    Landry has a very favorable player-option available at the end of the season, which would pay him the same salary as last season, $4 million.  The Warriors will try and position the opportunity in a positive way, letting him know that he is a vital part of the up-and-coming team foundation.

    If Landry does not come back, the best power forward fit is Brooklyn Net Andray Blatche.  Yes, he had a very rough time with the Washington Wizards in years past, but he proved his worth this season with the Nets.

    Blatche would be an oversized power forward, who can play the center position, but he put up 10.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 0.7 BPG while making only $854, 389.  He will get a higher salary, but he might be the short-term solution that the Warriors need. 

Center

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    Andrew Bogut is finally healthy and showing off the talent he brings at the center position.  He has been a force in the playoffs and will look to take that success into next season.

    The depth at the center position gives us Festus Ezeli, who is learning on the job and will need to develop a post move and Andris Biedrins, who will be accepting his player-option and playing out his final year as a Warrior.

    The perfect fit for the center position is someone who could fill a back-up roll and play extended minutes if asked to do so.  Ryan Hollins would be a great option for the Warriors in order to fill that role.

    He doesn’t have the big body like an Ezeli, but he has the quickness and wingspan to be an effective stop-gap measure.  He does very well moving without the ball, and he can finish at the rim.

    In a little over 11 minutes per game, Hollins contributed 3.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 0.6 BPG with a salary of $854,389.  With his skill set, he could be the backup center the Dubs need.