TUESDAY, 9:36am: The Warriors are looking for Lee takers with their first-round pick, at No. 30, as a potential addendum to a deal, Grantland’s Zach Lowe writes. Golden State nonetheless almost certainly won’t give up two picks, league sources tell the Grantland scribe. Record gate receipts from their Finals run has fueled Golden State’s comfort with absorbing a moderate tax hit, accrording to Lowe, who suggests that Golden State could find a happy medium with its tax payments if it did a buyout with Lee that left a reduced portion of his salary on its books or traded him in a deal that brought back some salary, but not as much as Lee makes.
FRIDAY, 8:07am: Myers wouldn’t rule out the idea of trading Lee but didn’t confirm that the club is actively trying to trade him, either, as he spoke to reporters Thursday and as Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com relays.
“I know it’s been reported, but we’re still trying to figure out everything with the roster,” Myers said. “At this stage, we usually have more time before the draft or free agency. But I won’t sit here and say we’ve decided anything definitively. If I did, I’d probably end up changing my mind, or we would change our mind. Because what I’ll find out now and what we’ll find out is the next seven days prior to the draft and whatever it is until July 1, there’ll be a lot of different things that’ll be thrown at us that we’ll explore. So it’s not the right time to even say we’re absolutely going in one direction or the other.”
WEDNESDAY, 12:57pm: The Warriors and representatives for David Lee have agreed to work together to find another team willing to take on his salary of nearly $15.494MM for next season, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The news comes as no shock, as a new deal for Draymond Green, which GM Bob Myers this week indicated was a likelihood, would send the team zooming well past the projected $81.6MM luxury tax threshold if Golden State doesn’t shed salary. Lee, the team’s most expensive player this past season, re-emerged in coach Steve Kerr‘s rotation during the Finals, but he’d largely been a non-factor this season prior to that.
The Warriors engaged in serious discussions about Lee with the Jazz near the deadline, according to Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone, son of former NBA executive Dave Checketts. Golden State has long been willing to trade Lee for assets of value, but the team hasn’t been on board with simply giving away the favorite of co-owner Joe Lacob, as Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group reported at the deadline. Still, it would appear as though the team would prefer to unload Lee’s salary in exchange for players with little or no guaranteed money, which would make it difficult for Golden State to extract much for him via trade. Lacob wouldn’t rule out trading Lee when Kawakami asked him about it earlier this spring, and Lee last week acknowledged the possibility that the Warriors might trade him in the offseason ahead.
The 32-year-old Mark Bartelstein client has been diplomatic about his reduced playing time, though he admitted in March that it was challenging at times, saying that it would be impossible for him to accept if the Warriors weren’t as successful as they are. He saw just 18.4 minutes per game this past season, by far his fewest since he was a rookie, and just 8.2 MPG in the playoffs.
Lee’s contract, which expires after next season, is nonetheless challenging for the Warriors to move while clearing salary. Golden State would either have to find a willing trade partner with enough cap space to absorb it (the Jazz would likely qualify) or take back non-guaranteed contracts in return in a deal with a capped-out team that must send back salary pursuant to the league’s salary matching rules. No team in the league has a trade exception large enough to take on Lee.