The Golden State Warriors claimed their fourth NBA title in eight years this past season.
Although the Herculean efforts of Stephen Curry were no doubt the biggest reason for what happened, the Warriors also had a number of key role players step up.
In the postseason that was great for the organization. Every little bit helps when you’re competing for a championship.
Unfortunately, the flip side of that coin is what happens after you win.
At that point you have to decide who to retain and who to let go heading into the following season.
Presently the Warriors have 7 free agents – 5 of whom are unrestricted. In addition, they are already $24.6 million over the tax line. That makes things even more complicated.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has identified 1 player who he deems as irreplaceable. So it’s safe to assume Golden State will do whatever it takes there. But what about the other 6 guys?
“Free agency, unrestricted especially … it is in our control to a certain extent, but in some ways, it’s not,” GM Bob Myers said last week.
“I hope that our players will give us a chance to respond to an offer. They don’t have to. They don’t owe it to us. But that’s what you get if you win and you create a good environment. You might get a chance to match something.”
According to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee and Juan Toscano-Anderson are all guys that Golden State wants to bring back.
“Of the other six Warriors players about to become free agents, the Warriors would like to bring back Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee and Juan Toscano-Anderson on minimum deals,” he wrote.
“It will just depend on whether those bench pieces can get better offers elsewhere. Should the Warriors have room to add free agents not currently on their roster, they might use the mid-level or minimums on a backup big man or a backup point guard.”
Lee is obviously a unique case because he is married to Curry’s sister, but there is also something to the idea that both he and Toscano-Anderson are cheap pieces that plug well into whatever roster Golden State decides to trot out next season.
“There is also the fact that they have endeared themselves to the coaching staff as diligent role players,” Letourneau noted. “If it’s between Toscano-Anderson and Lee or some relative no-names available on a minimum, I’d take Toscano-Anderson and Lee any day.”
It’s also worth noting that the Warriors just shipped $2 million and the No. 51 overall pick to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for the draft rights of Toledo guard Ryan Rollins at No. 44 in this year’s draft. How that will impact both Toscano-Anderson and Lee remains to be seen.
Currently, Golden State is in celebration mode. And understandably so. Klay Thompson is partying in Klay Thompson fashion. Jordan Poole is out there being the low-key ladies man that he is. Steph and Ayesha are out here working on a new baby in public.
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 26, 2022
But at a certain point, the plotting for next season has to begin. And we are rapidly approaching that point.
Who will the Warriors ultimately trot out for their attempt at repeating next season?
Time will tell.