The Golden State Warriors made it through the NBA draft unscathed, while fortifying the possibility of acquiring Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, as we enter the free-agency period on July 1.
The Dubs are hindered by the salary cap with roughly $11.3 million available before they are pressed up against the $77 million luxury tax line. However, they come equipped with a couple of tools in a $9.8 million traded player exception (courtesy of Richard Jefferson that must be used by July 10) and a $5.3 million mid-level exception.
The tax line creates problems, as the team does not want to be in jeopardy of being over the cap this season with the distinct probability of being over for the 2015-16 season. The repeater tax is a stiff penalty for teams that go over the salary cap for two or more seasons.
The Warriors are pressed, but the team has plenty of room to shape its future, mostly by keeping its core players.
With that being said, what should the Dubs do in the near future? Here are my predictions:
The Stretch 4
The Dubs’ free-agency outlook is tied directly to the Kevin Love chase. There are a lot of moving pieces in place, including the start of negotiations for Klay Thompson’s next contract (given that he is not included in a possible trade) and the number of bodies at each position.
Channing Frye has strong ties to the organization, having been brought to Phoenix by Steve Kerr and having played for new associate head coach Alvin Gentry.
He is also the type of player that Coach Kerr needs for his offensive system. He prefers to have a big who can step back and hit perimeter jumpers.
Salary comes to play here, as the Dubs will need to use one of the tools to ink a deal with Frye. If they go the mid-level exception route, Frye will have to take a pay cut from $6.4 million to $5.3 million.
He is seven years into the league and is probably looking for his last significant multi-year contract. The big question is if the Warriors see more than two or three years with Frye’s average defense-and-rebounding skills.
The Dubs can also use a portion of their $9.8 million traded player exception, but they should be willing to use that salary on a formidable backup to point guard Stephen Curry.
With the connections already in place, the Dubs will ink Frye to a three-year deal for $5.3 million annually.
Keep the Offense Moving
Besides acquiring a stretch 4 player for the offense, the other biggest free-agent need is for a backup point guard. Steve Blake is slated to become a free agent on July 1, and the Dubs don’t have anyone to replace him.
Jordan Crawford also looks to be a short-termer with the Warriors.
With the limited budget in place, the Dubs need to find a solid ball-handler that has the size to shift over to the shooting guard position.
The Warriors have Nemanja Nedovic on the roster, but he hasn’t lived up to his European Derrick Rose hype as of yet. He still needs another year to figure it out and adjust to the style of the NBA game.
One of the few candidates out there for the Dubs to choose from is San Antonio Spurs’ guard Patty Mills, who made a big splash in the NBA Finals. Mills plays the point, but he hit 42.5 percent of his three-pointers this season and averaged 10.2 PPG.
He showed that he can hit from mid-range, penetrate and create off the dribble. He only made one out of six threes during the season, so he will have to be a distributor in the backup role.
Livingston can also guard multiple positions, which is a big plus.
The last hat in the ring is Rodney Stuckey of the Detroit Pistons. Stuckey is a combo guard who chooses to create more often than settle for a jumper.
He is similar to Livingston, where he doesn’t shoot the three-pointer particularly well. Stuckey shot the ball behind the arc just 88 times, hitting 27.3 percent of his tries.
He does get to the line more than the average guard with 4.0 attempts per game, which will create space for those on the floor with him.
Money is the bottom line again here, as the most the team can spend is close to $6 million, if they can sign their big man for $5.3 million. Or, they can reverse the order.
Did Mills price himself out of the market? Will Livingston stay on the East Coast? Is Stuckey the emergency choice?
I see the Warriors making an offer to Mills, luring him in with the fact that he is comfortable here (he went to college at St. Mary’s) and showing him that he could be a key cog in a true challenger.
Where Is the Love?
Kevin Love’s time with the Minnesota Timberwolves is coming to an end. Shortly.
The Dubs put themselves in a stronger position in the negotiations, as they waited out the draft and watched some of their competitors lose trading chips with no more picks to trade.
The result of being able to wait out the Timberwolves is the likelihood that Klay Thompson remains a Warrior. Minnesota has pulled no punches in showing their desire to acquire the two-way shooting guard.
The Warriors will hold their cards close to the vest and wait it out. Competing teams’ offers will be decent, but nothing in the line of what the Dubs can provide.
Timberwolves president, part-owner and new coach Flip Saunders will roll the dice and continue to plead for Thompson, but the Dubs won’t give in to his demands. Saunders will then take the best offer given before the start of the season or hope to convince Love with a playoff run.
The Timberwolves will be challenged with a young, developing roster going against at least 10 playoff-caliber teams in their conference. Eventually, Saunders pulls the plug.
It all depends on how desperate competing teams become with injuries or less-than-desirable performances. If the current type of offers stay the course, the Warriors have a solid chance of winning out.
In that case, the Warriors will become an instantaneous threat to win their first NBA title since the 1974-75 NBA season.
And the Splash Brothers will continue to grow their legacy by the Bay.
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