With the Golden State Warriors already having fulfilled their most important offseason priority with the hiring of new head coach Steve Kerr, finding a proven, capable backup guard who can spell both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson must now be addressed.
The Warriors’ second unit has not been the same since Jarrett Jack was allowed to leave for the Cleveland Cavaliers last offseason in free agency. His dynamic scoring ability proved impossible to replace, as was his playmaking and veteran leadership.
The Toney Douglas experiment proved to be a disaster. He never found his rhythm and struggled to put the ball through the net, averaging just 3.7 points on 37 percent shooting from the field. Although the Warriors brought him in for his spot-up shooting and defense, he shot well below his career average from three-point land, converting on just 32 percent of his shots.
The trades for Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford were met with praise, as even the great Kobe Bryant gave Blake a ringing endorsement. While Blake’s numbers fell across the board after the trade, that could be attributed to a lack of minutes, not anything of his own doing.
He was the yin to Curry’s yang, showing a steady hand en route to just 1.1 turnovers per game, and his shot was adequate enough, nailing over 34 percent of his three-point attempts. He wasn’t Jack, however, those shoes proving to be too big for him to fill.
In an attempt to produce some scoring off the bench, the Warriors shrewdly traded for Crawford, an offensive spark plug who had expanded his game with the Boston Celtics. While Crawford lit up the scoreboard in spurts, his inefficiency was costly, as he shot just .417 from the field and .313 from the land of three.
Suffice to say, they still missed Jarrett Jack.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Jack is not walking through the doors of Oracle Arena. With both Crawford and Blake set to hit free agency, it is unlikely that the Warriors retain either player.
The Warriors will already be over the cap with the players currently on the roster—nearly $64 million in guaranteed money, courtesy of Spotrac.com—and the impending extensions of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes means the Warriors must navigate free agency carefully.
They cannot afford to cripple their future as they did when they threw nearly $11 million to Marreese Speights last offseason.
Guys like Kyle Lowry and Lance Stephenson will be far too expensive, and players from the old guard like Paul Pierce and Vince Carter might be a bit too far past their primes. Fortunately for the Warriors, they do have a few different options.
Shaun Livingston would be a perfect fit for the Warriors, as his tremendous size and veteran savvy would give Golden State exactly what it lacks. He revitalized his career with the Brooklyn Nets last season, oftentimes looking even better than Deron Williams.
Livingston would be able to enter the game for either Curry or Thompson, pushing Curry to the wing in that scenario. His size also ensures that the defensive drop-off from Thompson would be minimal.
While he is not the scorer or the creator that Curry is, he’s shown to have a steady hand with the ball, averaging just 1.4 turnovers per game. For a Warriors team that ranked 27th in the league in that department, he would be a sight for sore eyes.
When it comes to backup point guards, Kirk Hinrich is the man who instantly comes to mind. A tenacious defender his entire career, he’s also shown the ability to knock down the three, shooting it at an impressive .377 clip throughout his time in the NBA.
With the Warriors being a team centered around a long-range attack, his shooting touch would blend right in.
Like Livingston, Hinrich has proven to be careful with the ball, turning it over just 1.6 times per game. In what would be his 11th season in the NBA, Hinrich would provide the veteran leadership that left with Jack.
Could a reunion with the Warriors be in store for Brandon Rush? Coming off a string of injuries, Rush was used sparingly by the Utah Jazz last season. Still, at the right price, he would provide the Warriors excellent outside shooting and solid defense.
Rush was coming off a phenomenal season with the Warriors before he was sent away to the Jazz in the salary dump that ultimately brought Andre Iguodala to Golden State.
While Rush does not have the playmaking ability that Hinrich and Livingston possess, he’s by far the best shooter of the three, and his ability to defend three possessions would be extremely valuable.
Getting bigger at the guard position is a must for the Warriors, and bringing in an old fan favorite like Rush would be a hit.