The Golden State Warriors face a number of tough decisions in free agency this upcoming season, but the player who finished 15th and last on the list last year could end up being one of the top priorities.
The Warriors has seven players destined for unrestricted free agency, including three who played important roles in the playoffs and the NBA Finals spin-off — Otto Porter Jr., Kevin Looney and Gary Payton II. They also have a budding young superstar at Jordan Poole who is expected to get a major stretch and debut All-Star in Andrew Wiggins who could get his maximum deal of his own this time next year.
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Defensive specialist can return
After six seasons of hopping around the NBA and spending long spells in the J-League, Payton found a home in Steve Kerr’s rotation last season. He was one of the team’s best defensive players and brought a punch from the bench, averaging a career best point score of 7.1 points per game in 17.6 minutes.
Payton is now heading to unrestricted free agency, but a Western Conference executive believes that after striking a new deal to close breakout guard Jordan Paul, Payton will be the Warriors’ next order of business.
“After Paul’s extension, Payton appears to have the priority there,” said CEO Sean Daveney of Heavy.com. “They want to get him in a reasonable number, of course, if he gets a higher-than-average offer, they can’t keep up.”
The CEO added that Warriors could have the advantage that Payton’s defensive first style suits them perfectly but not other potential suitors.
“A lot of teams look at him as a guy who fits in their system but doesn’t fit in with anyone else, he is a specialist in that way,” the CEO said. “He’s not a shooter, and he doesn’t even like taking 3s. So for a lot of the teams, which include teams like the Lakers and Celtics, the teams that were mentioned with them, they need two-way players. So the market can be limited on him and the Warriors hope to keep the price down. “.
The main players want to come back
While Paul and Peyton may be priorities, the other Warriors have expressed their desire to come back and help the team defend their fourth title in the past eight seasons. Looney, who scored a playoff high with 22 rebounds against the Memphis Grizzlies and 21 points against the Dallas Mavericks, said he wants to be part of the title defense.
“I always want to come back here,” loni said. “I want to go back and try to defend what we just won and be part of something special again.”
Wiggins, who is entering the final year of his contract, said he wants to stay with the Warriors for the long term.
“I’d love to stay here,” Wiggins said. “Being here, this is top notch. The way they treat players… We are all one big family. I feel like a lot of places might say that, but they show it through their actions.”
Conor Letourneau from San Francisco Chronicle She mentioned that the Warriors are discussing extending the maximum contract for Wiggins, although they likely won’t make any imminent moves.
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