A significant loss occurred as the Golden State Warriors watched Kevin Durant depart for the Brooklyn Nets. The move initiated what was to be a bleak offseason for the Western Conference champions. Instead, a re-tooling of the roster was the result of the Golden State Warriors’ Free Agency.
Free Agency Recap for the Golden State Warriors
No matter the result, the Golden State Warriors were heading into a franchise-impacting free agency this offseason. Two of their franchise players neared their impending free agency in Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Not to mention, both were deserving of max contracts but also recently suffered potential career-altering injuries. Despite the roster being top-heavy, the need to strengthen the bench was apparent in the NBA Finals.
As was widely rumored, Kevin Durant chose to walk away from the Golden State Warriors at the onset of NBA Free Agency. With limited flexibility, Bob Myers and company would need to work their magic to re-tool this offseason.
Word spread quickly that Golden State was working on a sign-and-trade deal with Brooklyn. Instead of watching Kevin Durant walk out the door, the Warriors got an All-Star in return. After surrendering a future first-round pick, Golden State welcomed D’Angelo Russell to The Bay.
The move was key in not only receiving a valuable asset, but Russell fills the void left by Klay Thompson for the upcoming season. Thompson, meanwhile, agreed to return to Golden State on a five-year max contract, worth $190 million.
The trade did not come without further complications, as Golden State needed to shed salary themselves. In order to pay Russell’s four-year max contract, the Warriors sent long-time franchise cornerstone Andre Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies. A former Finals MVP with a prowess for defense, one could argue Iguodala’s departure was most felt by the team and fans.
After the corresponding moves, the next phase was for Bob Myers to re-work the roster depth with the limited cap flexibility at his disposal. As a result, Golden State signed the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks, and Glenn Robinson. Having already seen enough of potential starting center Damian Jones, Golden State traded him to the Atlanta Hawks, with Omari Spellman coming in return.
Strapped on cap space with limited resources, the upcoming season looked bleak for the Golden State Warriors. Even with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green leading the way, Golden State would still be without Klay Thompson. If the Warriors truly wanted to extend the competitive ability of these core three players, then overusing Curry and Green was not the answer.
The 2019 season is not a “lost season” for Golden State, but they couldn’t put Curry and Green’s long-term health in jeopardy for nothing.
The acquisition of D’Angelo Russell is intriguing, though it remains to be seen how long he’ll play in a Warriors uniform. Russell lacks a defensive prowess, but his offensive game should help shoulder the load off of Stephen Curry. Expect Steve Kerr to run more pick-and-roll schemes with new center Willie Cauley-Stein.
The voids left by Klay Thompson’s injury and Kevin Durant’s departure are likely too significant to overcome in the short-term. Yet Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson, in particular, were much-needed additions at a wing position that was lacking in depth.
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