David West

Warriors To Make Significant Changes This Offseason?

The Warriors brought Northern California yet another parade, celebrating their third championship over the last four seasons. Despite the nearly unprecedented success, the team will continue to evolve and coach Steve Kerr said there may be significant changes to the team’s roster.

“We had a lot of vets this year. I think you’ll see more youth and energy to help us get through all that,” Kerr told ESPN’s Zach Lowe on the scribe’s podcast. “We’re going to have to be very creative and we going to have pace ourselves again and hopefully everything comes together in the playoffs, but you never know.”

Several of the team’s veterans are set to become free agents and it sounds like Kerr is preparing to lose a number of them. Zaza Pachulia, who made roughly $3.47MM this past season, will hit the market. David West (approximately $1.47MM) may retire. Nick Young (slightly over $5.19MM) signed a one-year contract last offseason and will look for work yet again this summer.

If Golden State is going to hand out anything over the minimum, it will have significant financial ramifications on the club. NBA teams trigger the repeater tax penalties if it pays the luxury tax in a given season and has paid it in three of the previous four years. The franchise paid the luxury tax during the 2015/16 campaign as well as this past season. If the Warriors finish next season above the luxury tax line, they’ll face the harsher parameters on their payments.

Those fiercer penalties are as follows:

  • $0-5MM above tax line: $2.50 per dollar (up to $12.5MM).
  • $5-10MM above tax line: $2.75 per dollar (up to $13.75MM).
  • $10-15MM above tax line: $3.50 per dollar (up to $17.5MM).
  • $15-20MM above tax line: $4.25 per dollar (up to $21.25MM).
  • For every additional $5MM above tax line beyond $20MM, rates increase by $0.50 per dollar (ie. $4.75 for $20-25MM, $5.25 for $25-30MM, etc.).

The Warriors already have roughly $103MM in guaranteed salary on the books for next season and that’s before Kevin Durant gets whatever contract he wants. Not to mention Golden State plans to talk extensions with both Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

The luxury tax line is projected to come in at $121MM and while the team isn’t going to be frivolous with its top players, it may be more prudent with its fringe rotation players, as it will almost certainly be a luxury tax payer in the summer of 2019 and possibly beyond. It would be surprising if the team brings back Young at or near his current salary given his production and the franchise’s luxury tax repeater status.

The USC product sported a 3.1 player efficiency rating during this year’s playoffs. Of the 158 players who played at least 6.0 minutes per game this postseason, only four had a worse mark than Young. He saw a total of 205 minutes, though much of his court time came with the team ahead and the game nearly out of reach.

The Warriors found production on cheap deals in Jordan Bell and Quinn Cook this season, and it appears they will look to replicate that success by searching for young, affordable talent to fill out the roster behind Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and their four All-Stars.

Warriors Notes: Pachulia, West, Young, Roster

Despite the success of the current group, the Warriors are expected to undergo some roster changes this offseason, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Those changes figure to be made more around the edges of the roster, rather than to the core, but the club has seven players eligible for free agency — of those players, only Kevin Durant is a lock to return.

According to Slater, it’s virtually a “sure thing” that Zaza Pachulia and David West will be gone, perhaps to retirement. It would also be a “stunner” if Nick Young returns, says Slater. As for their roster makeup, the Warriors almost certainly won’t carry as many centers next season, preferring to add a little more depth on the wing.

Here’s more out of Golden State:

  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic also examines the Warriors’ 2018/19 roster options, identifying several possible free agent targets and noting that the team would like its first-round draft choice (No. 28 overall) to immediately vie for a rotation spot.
  • As Kawakami writes in a separate piece for The Athletic, the Warriors continue to keep an eye on the NBA’s very best players as potential targets, like they did with Durant prior to the summer of 2016. For now, that means they’ll monitor Anthony Davis, who will be eligible for a new deal in 2020. However, that’s very much on the back burner, with Golden State focusing on keeping its current core intact.
  • According to Kawakami, the Warriors grossed approximately $130MM in 11 home playoff games this year. Slightly lengthier series this spring resulted in an estimate significantly larger than in 2017, when the team grossed about $95MM in eight postseason contests.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) takes an in-depth look at the Warriors’ roster decisions this offseason, including Durant’s possible contract scenarios, possible free agent deals for Kevon Looney and Patrick McCaw, and what to do with the taxpayer mid-level exception.

NBA Finals Roundup: James, Lue, Durant, Curry, West, Young

With the season now over, the focus turns to LeBron James and his pending free agency decision. James can opt out of the final year of his contract and hit unrestricted free agency for the third time. He has until June 29 to make a decision.

Following the Cavaliers‘ loss to the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, which completed a sweep of Cleveland, James discussed his pending decision, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes. While James has not made up his mind, he said input from his family will be a major factor this summer.

“The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family,” James said. “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I’ve got a teenage boy, a preteen and a little girl that wasn’t around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that. So I don’t have an answer for you right now as far as that.”

James has left Cleveland once before, signing a deal in 2010 with the Heat, where he won two championships in four seasons. The 33-year-old returned to the Cavaliers prior to the 2014/15 season, leading the organization to a championship the following year.

Check out more news to come out of the NBA Finals below:

  • As we relayed earlier, James suffered a self-inflicted injury to his right hand after he punched a whiteboard out of frustration following the Cavaliers’ loss in Game 1.
  • After battling some health issues throughout the season, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue intends to return next year, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. “Yeah, I do,” Lue said of his intentions. “I had some tough problems going on throughout the course of the season, and … I probably could have folded myself, but I wasn’t going to do that.” Lue previously told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that was treated for anxiety this season.
  • Kevin Durant became the 11th player to win two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards, per The Associated Press. With back-to-back championships and Finals MVPs to his credit, Durant’s focus will now turn to his contract situation. He intends to remain with the Warriors, but will likely sign a new deal.
  • Stephen Curry has two regular season MVPs to his credit but Durant has taken home that honor the last two NBA Finals. However, Curry prioritizes the team success over his individual accolades, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “K.D.’s been amazing these last two years, especially in The Finals, and so deserving of back-to-back Finals MVPs,” Curry said. “I’m going to be his biggest fan in there with what he’s able to do. I think the biggest thing we appreciate in the locker room is, again, what everybody brings to the table and we kind of unlock the greatness out of each other.”
  • One of the most visibly excited players to win his first championship was the Warriors’ Nick Young, per Alysha Tsuji of USA TODAY. ‘Swaggy P’ only played 38 combined minutes in the NBA Finals but he helped the team off the bench during the regular season. “I went from getting snitched on to putting a ring on!” Young told reporters.
  • Warriors veteran David West said the team’s championship victory is even more remarkable given various behind-the-scenes issues the public is not aware of, tweets The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears. “Y’all got no clue. No clue. That tells you about this team that nothing came out,” West said.
  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has now coached the club to three championships in four seasons. We noted earlier that Warriors ownership believes Kerr will sign an extension with the team this summer.

Pacific Notes: Bell, West, Suns, Metu

Lingering problems with his ankles this winter led Warriors rookie Jordan Bell to consider sitting out the rest of the season, according to Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News. As he rehabbed from a left ankle injury that kept him out for 14 games in January and February, Bell shared his concerns with his high school coach, who responded that he had “time to heal.” Bell sent another text message after rolling his right ankle in late March.

“It was me being mad and irritated and spur of the moment. I was so frustrated. It kept reoccurring,” Bell recalled. “I thought maybe I should let it go fully and let it get back to 100 percent.”

Bell’s ankles are fully healed, but he hasn’t regained the role he had before the injuries. He sat out three of Golden State’s playoff games and averaged just 4.9 minutes a night in the postseason. He may be used more frequently in the conference finals as the Warriors try to match up with the Rockets’ smaller, quicker front line.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • David West and Chris Paul, who starred as teammates in New Orleans a decade ago, will square off for the Western Conference title, notes Logan Murdock of The San Jose Mercury News. They spent seven seasons together before West signed with the Pacers and Paul was traded to the Clippers“Who knows what that team would’ve done had we stayed together,” West said. “It was a good run. It was really like a starting point for both of us in our careers.”
  • The Suns will enter Tuesday night’s lottery with the best chance of winning the top pick, but they’ll have plenty of good options if that doesn’t happen, notes Luke Lapinski of Arizona Sports 98.7. Phoenix has a history of disappointment in the lottery, but Lapinski sees DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III as high-level talents at the top three spots.
  • Los Angeles native Chimezie Metu called it a “dream come true” to work out for the Lakers this week, relays Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. Metu, who made the All-Pac 12 first team at USC, is projected as a mid second-rounder and could be on the board when L.A. picks at No. 47. “I’m probably going to have a lot more workouts,” he said, “but this is probably going to be my favorite one or one I’m going to cherish a lot more because of the history.”

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Golden State Warriors

The Warriors may be on the precipice of breaking new luxury tax records but that seems like a suitable trade off for their run as one of the most dominant franchises in NBA history.

Sure, they’ll inevitably need to finesse things with their four core superstars but that doesn’t mean the club can’t still make a handful of responsible moves in the summer of 2018 to make their lives slightly simpler when push comes to shove.

The Warriors issued a pile of short-term deals last summer and may be in position to do so again. At the end of the day, retaining flexibility and not overpaying for players that aren’t business critical will be their top priorities.

Omri Casspi, SF, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.1MM deal in 2017
Casspi has bounced around the NBA over the course of the past nine seasons, occasionally showing glimpses of solid value as a rotation player but his role with the Warriors may be his most relevant yet. While Casspi’s 16.1 minutes per game are the second least of his career (he played sparingly for the Cavs in 2012/13), he’s shown that he’s a competent bit character in Golden State’s title defense and the organization should look to retain that. Casspi can plug into the Warriors rotation when needed, as evidenced by the 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game he averaged in 14 December games, but his modest resume doesn’t demand consistent time or big-time money. It seems like both parties would benefit from his return on another cheap deal but don’t rule out other contending hopefuls trying to poach him away.

Kevin Durant, PF, 29 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $53MM deal in 2017
After taking a discount so that the Warriors could retain players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, Durant will have the chance to turn down his player option and go after a bigger contract now that the team’s other core pieces are in place. Durant is on a short list of players with enough clout to bounce from short-term deal to short-term deal, retaining future flexibility and keeping general managers on their toes but he could also ink a four-year max pact and go about his business. While Durant strikes me as the type of personality that may prefer the latter, he could potentially opt for the former if for no other reason than to give the organization options as they gear up for their forthcoming years-long battle with the repeater tax.

Kevon Looney, C, 22 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.8MM deal in 2015
The Warriors made the decision to turn down the fourth-year of Looney’s rookie contract because at that point he hadn’t been able to show much value over the course of two injury plagued seasons. Looney has had a bit more of a chance to showcase his skills in 2017/18 but not enough to warrant major free agency interest. The Dubs may be able to bring Looney back on a minimum deal next season if they like the intangibles that he brings outside of game days but there’s no obvious case for it aside from the fact that they’ll need bodies and they know what he brings to the table.

Patrick McCaw, SG, 22 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $1.9MM deal in 2016
The Warriors seem receptive to developing McCaw into a potentially reliable rotation player, as evidenced by their decision to start him six times already this season. To this point in the season, however, he hasn’t exactly flourished when given the opportunity. McCaw’s situation is much like Looney’s. He’ll be a cheap option that they’ve worked with in-house. Given the financial restraints that the front office will be dealing with due to the rest of the roster, they may be happy to retain a 22-year-old that they can at least potentially groom into a reliable rotation player.

JaVale McGee, C, 30 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.1MM deal in 2017JaVale McGee vertical
McGee put forth his most notable season in years when he debuted with the Warriors in 2016/17 but hasn’t replicated that success in 2017/18. Due to matchup issues in the small ball era and the emergence of rookie Jordan Bell, the team just doesn’t need McGee’s energy and length as much as it did in his first year with the team. Considering that the big man isn’t getting any younger, it’s hard to imagine him landing much on the market if all he could manage to yield after last year’s solid campaign was another one-year, minimum contract.

Zaza Pachulia, C, 34 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal in 2017
The Warriors have started Pachulia in all 109 of the games that he’s suited up in over the course of his two years with the franchise but this year his time on the court has dropped to its lowest point since 2009/10. Could that be an indication that the club is open to moving on in 2018? The Dubs gave Pachulia, a dinosaur in today’s game, more money than they needed to last summer but now that finances are even tighter, they may not be so generous. Expect Pachulia in a reserve role for the veteran’s minimum, if he’s even back in the Bay Area at all.

David West, C, 37 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.3MM deal in 2017
West has been an extremely productive role player for the Warriors off the bench in 2017/18, exactly what basketball fans outside of northern California feared when the former All-Star decided to crawl onto the Dubs’ bandwagon in 2016. West has had old-man game since he broke into the league, so regression isn’t exactly an issue. Expect him back playing meaningful minutes with Golden State until he decides to retire.

Nick Young, SG, 33 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $5.2MM deal in 2017
Young is a potent three-point shooter that slots in well with the rest of Golden State’s rotation but does he provide enough to justify what his $5M+ contract will amount to when the luxury tax bill is calculated? The Warriors may gauge Young’s receptiveness to returning on a cheaper deal in 2018/19. If he isn’t interested, expect him to pound the pavement and eventually land somewhere as a hired gun on a short-term deal. If logic prevails, he’ll be a valuable depth piece with the Warriors for years to come… but that might be a big if.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Caldwell-Pope, West, Williams

The Lakers mishandled the latest controversy involving LaVar Ball, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. The outspoken father of rookie Lonzo Ball said over the weekend that coach Luke Walton has lost control of the team and that players no longer enjoy playing for him.

The comments drew a harsh reaction from other coaches such as the Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle, the Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy and the Warriors’ Steve Kerr, but Bontemps says Lakers management failed to speak out swiftly to defend Walton.

GM Rob Pelinka turned down two requests to talk to reporters at Sunday’s game, then team president Magic Johnson did the same at Monday’s practice. Bontemps notes this would have been a perfect opportunity to support Walton and send a message to LaVar Ball, but the team leaders remained silent.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is ready to move on after completing a 25-day jail sentence, relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Caldwell-Pope was released for games and practices, but wasn’t permitted to leave California for road trips. “Paid my debts and all,” he said. “… Everything is done. Put that behind me. Moving forward, finish my season. Just happy to be home. Just a minor setback for me, [but there’s a] lot of things I gotta change. Lotta things I gotta improve on. Had a lot of time to think about it.”
  • Warriors forward David West heard a lot of second guessing when he turned down a $12.6MM option with the Pacers in 2015, but he tells Chris Hayes of ESPN he doesn’t think he would still be playing without that decision. He signed a $1.4MM contract with the Spurs that year and has taken similar deals with the Warriors the past two seasons. “I would have retired, man,” West said. “That would have been it, because I wanted to compete for a championship. I needed to experience that. So, if I played out my contract there, that would have been it. I was walking away. I wanted to feel like I was playing for something.”
  • After hitting a game-winning shot Monday, Clippers guard C.J. Williams has another important occasion coming up, notes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Playing on a two-way contract, Williams has used 40 of his 45 allowable days in the NBA. Injuries have forced Williams into the rotation, as he has started 12 games and is averaging nearly 20 minutes per night. To keep him, the Clippers will have to sign him to a regular contract or a 10-day deal by the end of the week. “We’re going to start a ‘GoFundMe Fund’ for C.J.,” coach Doc Rivers joked after the game. “We need some donations.”

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Durant, Triano

The Clippers have struggled to get reliable production from the point this season, largely because Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley have been sidelined extensively and Austin Rivers is better suited to play the role of combo guard. Stepping up as a playmaker then, has been power forward Blake Griffin. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes that Griffin has manned the point not unlike standout rookie Ben Simmons has to much fanfare.

Not only do guards on the roster consciously look to feed Griffin the ball to bring up the court, the 28-year-old has done well to create offense when he gets it. Through 18 games this season, Griffin leads the Clippers with 5.0 assists per game, all while posting his highest scoring average in five years and chipping in 7.7 rebounds per contest for good measure.

He’s always been able to handle the ball and he’s always been a real Mack truck coming down the floor in transition with the ball,” division rival Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “If he gets a rebound and he’s breaking out, he’s hard and it’s difficult to guard.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The young Suns are learning first-hand just how much head coaching matters in the NBA, Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic writes. After replacing Earl Watson following a disastrous first three games to start the season, Jay Triano has guided Phoenix to a 7-10 record.
  • The Warriors may have prematurely allowed Kevin Durant to suit up on an injured ankle, Monte Poole of NBC Sports writes. The forward sprained his ankle last weekend but played in Wednesday night’s marquee matchup with the Thunder, something head coach Steve Kerr now regrets. “I’m sure the league is happy with us because we played him on their ‘marquee’ game with and all that stuff. But he came out sore the next day. So we shouldn’t have played him,” Kerr said.
  • Well-suited for his elder statesmen role on the Warriors bench, David West has made an impact with his veteran leadership, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t speak unless it’s necessary. He understands when it’s necessary,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s not doing it to hear himself talk. He’s not one of those guys. He’s doing it to impart some knowledge and wisdom. So he picks his spots wisely.”

And-Ones: Pay Cuts, Rookies, Returning Rights

The idea of an NBA player taking a pay cut in order to help a franchise save funds for other players is a noble one but it doesn’t always work out for the individuals who sign at a discount, Steve Kyler or Basketball Insiders writes.

Most recently, Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson was asked if he would consider taking less pay when he hits free agency in the summer of 2019, like his teammate Kevin Durant did this summer.

I probably could, yeah. That much? I don’t know. I don’t make as much as Kevin off the court,” Thompson told The Athletic. “If it’s a few million… It’s a blessing whatever contract I sign. I would definitely consider it cause I don’t want to lose anybody.”

Kyler discusses several cases of players who took pay cuts to play for a winner only to see that shot at a title quickly fade. Back in 2015, David West left eight digits on the table in order to chase a ring with the Spurs but ultimately came up short. The following summer he had to sign on with the Warriors instead, in order to take home a championship.

Jameer Nelson is another striking example of what can go wrong for a player. Nelson was bought out by the Magic in the summer of 2014 and turned around to sign at a discount with the Mavs. Dallas, however, shipped the veteran guard off less than two months into the 2014/15 campaign in the deal that landed them Rajon Rondo.

Of course there are success stories and Kyler references both Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade taking pay cuts to appease franchises that have supported them over the course of their careers. Tim Duncan is another example of a superstar that happily left money on the table in order to preserve the Spurs‘ financial flexibility.

There’s more from around the NBA:

  • While it’s only natural to get excited about the potential of the point guards at the top of the 2017 NBA Draft, don’t expect them to steamroll their way through the league right away. Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider) took a deep dive into the statistical projections of players like Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and Dennis Smith Jr. only to conclude that genuinely performing as a Top 100 player in the NBA is exceedingly difficult for a first-year guard.
  • The NBA’s age limit has been a common talking point ever since it was implemented last decade but change could be inevitable, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes. The scribe writes that the prohibition of traditional high school seniors in the NBA draft isn’t about skill but rather about maturity. He also highlights the fact that many of the eligibility rules related to the NCAA-to-NBA pipeline come from the NCAA and not from the big league, itself.
  • Ever wonder what G League writers like Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days are talking about when they refer to players’ returning rights? Consider the following an introduction to the contract mechanism and a crash course in who the most valuable players to whom returning rights apply currently are.

Pacific Notes: Kings, Ball, Warriors, Jordan

The decision to remove DeMarcus Cousins from the equation has brought a sense of happiness and hope around the moribund Kings franchise, Nick Zappulla of RealGM opines. The pieces are now in place for a quick turnaround via the acquisition of Buddy Hield in the trade with the Pelicans along with four promising rookies taken in the draft, particularly floor leader De’Aaron Fox and forward Harry Giles, Zappulla continues. Big men Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein showed progress once Cousins was removed from the picture and the club also brought in three veteran free agents to facilitate the development of the young players, Zappulla adds.

In other items regarding the Pacific Division:

  • The league’s television partners certainly have Lonzo Ball fever, as evidenced by the Lakers’ 35 nationally-televised games next season, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register notes. That’s the fifth-most national broadcasts among all teams despite the franchise coming off a 26-win season. Much of it can be attributed to lottery pick Ball, both for his passing skills and the hype-man routine of his father LaVar, Oram adds.
  • The Warriors’ center rotation is unlikely to change next season despite the presence of some promising young players at the back end, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Zaza Pachulia will continue to start with JaVale McGee backing him up and David West getting minutes there at the start of second quarters, according to Slater. Damian Jones, who was inconsistent in summer-league play, or rookie Jordan Bell could force their way into the rotation at some point, Slater adds.
  • Center DeAndre Jordan realizes the Clippers won’t be the same team without Chris Paul, but expects point guard additions Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic to keep the franchise among the best in the West, Jovan Buha of ESPN.com reports. “Those guys are going to come in and play their style of basketball, and it’s going to be fun,” Jordan told Buha.

Players Who Can Veto Trades In 2017/18

No-trade clauses are rare in the NBA, but one such provision has been the subject of much discussion so far in 2017, as Carmelo Anthony made use of his NTC to block the Knicks from sending him to an undesirable destination. For much of the offseason, Anthony was focused on joining the Rockets, but he eventually agreed to a deal that sent him to Oklahoma City.

Anthony is one of just two NBA players whose contract includes an explicit no-trade clause, but there are still several players each year who have the ability to veto trades. A player who re-signs with his previous team on a one-year contract – or a two-year deal with an option year – is given no-trade protection, and so is a player who signs an offer sheet and has that offer matched by his previous team. Players who accept qualifying offers after their rookie deals expire can also block deals.

Taking into account that list of criteria, here are the players who must give their consent if their teams want to trade them during the 2017/18 league year:

No-trade clauses

Players whose offer sheets were matched

  • Otto Porter (Wizards)
    • Note: Even with his consent, Porter cannot be traded to the Nets during the 2017/18 league year.

Players accepting qualifying offers

Players re-signing for one year (or two years including an option)

In addition to the players listed above who can veto trades through the 2017/18 league year, there’s another small handful of players who can’t be dealt under any circumstance until at least next July. The following players signed a Designated Veteran Extension this season, which precludes them from being traded for a full calendar year:

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post.