Golden State Warriors

Jerry West Supposedly Left Warriors Due To Pay Cut

  • The reason Jerry West left his executive role with the Warriors to join up with the Clippers‘ front office is because he would have had to take a pay cut in the realm of $1MM. Daniel Mano of the Mercury News cites an excerpt from Jack McCallum’s book on California basketball.

Warriors Waive Georges Niang, Michael Gbinije

The Warriors have waived guard Georges Niang and forward Michael Gbinije, the team announced in a press release. Both men were second-round picks in last year’s NBA draft.

Niang, 24, played in four preseason games, averaging 4.0 PPG in 9.8 minutes per game. Gbinije, 25, also appeared in four games, averaging 3.3 PPG in 7.5 minutes per contest.

Niang, who was drafted by the Pacers last year, latched on with Golden State on a one-year pact in mid-August. Gbinije, last year’s 49th overall pick by the Pistons, signed his deal in early September.

Both Niang and Gbinije are candidates to land with the Warriors’ G League affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors. After waiving Trevor Thompson yesterday, the Warriors have 15 players on their NBA roster.

Warriors Waive Trevor Thompson

The Warriors have waived big man Trevor Thompson, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento tweets. The seven-footer will presumably end up with Golden State’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz.

The move trims Golden State down to 18 players with the rest of the cuts expected to come after the team’s preseason finale on Friday night.

Warriors Sign Center Trevor Thompson

The Warriors have signed free agent center Trevor Thompson, Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News tweets. Thompson is likely ticketed for the team’s G League affiliate, Santa Cruz, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

The addition of Thompson puts the Warriors’ roster at 19 players. Coach Steve Kerr said cuts will be made after the preseason finale, Medina adds. Golden State plays the Kings Friday night.

Thompson played for Virginia Tech and Ohio State, then went undrafted in June. The 7-footer averaged 10.6 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 1.5 BPG in 23.0 MPG last season. The 23-year-old Thompson played for the Celtics’ Summer League teams and saw spot duty in six games, averaging 1.7 PPG and 1.8 RPG in 7.5 MPG.

Casspi Leads Young In Chase For Rotation Spot

Jarell Martin is the player most likely to be waived by the Grizzlies despite a lack of depth at power forward, according to Chris Herrington of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.  The Grizzlies need to pare two players to reach the 15-man limit and Martin is an inconsistent player who’s not really a stretch four or a defensive force, Herrington continues. The final roster decision will likely come down to guards Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin, since it appears Mario Chalmers has re-emerged as a rotation piece, Herrington notes. Harrison is a useful player at the back end of the roster but it would be difficult to give up on Baldwin, a first-round pick last year, Herrington adds. Memphis will likely explore trades involving those players this weekend to facilitate the decision.

In other developments regarding the Western Conference:

  • Marcus Georges-Hunt‘s ability to guard three or four positions makes him the favorite to nab the 14th spot on the Timberwolves’ roster, Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. The 6’5” swingman has the edge over rookies Amile Jefferson and Melo Trimble, who will likely be sent to the team’s G League affiliate in Iowa, while another swingman, Anthony Brown, has already signed a two-way contract. However, Minnesota wants to keep the 15th spot open and could also pursue a player that’s waived or bought out as teams make their final roster cuts, Zgoda adds.
  • Omri Casspi has taken a clear lead over Nick Young for a spot in the Warriors’ rotation, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. Young got a bigger contract than Casspi when signing with the Warriors this summer but came to camp out of shape while Casspi quickly showed he’s a better fit for coach Steve Kerr’s system, Slater adds.
  • There’s still no apparent timetable for Kawhi Leonard‘s return from a right quad injury, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News reports. The Spurs All-Star forward has spent the entire preseason rehabbing from an injury he originally suffered last season. “We’ve seen him in the gym and in rehab, but he hasn’t scrimmaged, so it’s hard to tell what stage he is in,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili told Orsborn.

Klay Thompson Sees Warriors As Modern Day Bulls Dynasty

  • Klay Thompson said the Warriors aspire to be a dynasty like the Michael Jordan-led Bulls of the 1990s, ESPN’s Nick Friedell writes. Thompson said that fanfare and success surrounding the franchise can eventually be on par with the legendary Bulls team; Golden State enters 2017/18 aiming for a third NBA championship in four seasons.

Five Looming Team Option Decisions To Watch

NBA rookie contracts for first round picks feature a pair of team options in years three and four, and – unlike standard team options – the deadline for those decisions doesn’t fall on June 30. If a team wants to exercise its 2018/19 option for a player on a rookie contract, that team must do so this month, with an October 31 deadline looming.

Despite being forced to make decisions a year early, most teams simply pick up their club options on rookie-scale players. Even players who have underwhelming rookie seasons deserve an extra year or two to prove their value, and rookie-scale salaries are generally inexpensive, making them a worthwhile investment for NBA teams.

Still, not every former first round pick is worth keeping around for four full seasons on his rookie contract. With the help of our full list of 2018/19 rookie scale team options, here are five players who aren’t locks to have their options for next season exercised this month:

  1. Jarell Martin verticalJarell Martin, Grizzlies (fourth year, $2,416,222): A report at the start of training camp indicated that the Grizzlies had informed Martin he’d be waived, but had given him the opportunity to stick with the club for the preseason to help boost his stock. He has done just that in the early going, scoring 16 points in 22 minutes in his preseason debut, then nearly recording a double-double (eight points, nine rebounds) in just 13 minutes against the Sixers. Even if the Grizzlies remain prepared to move on from him, it will be interesting to see whether the team finds a taker on the trade market — a new team may be more willing to keep Martin around and perhaps pick up his 2018/19 option.
  2. Cameron Payne, Bulls (fourth year, $3,263,294): It seems unfathomable that the Bulls would decline this option just months after making Payne the centerpiece of a deadline-day deal that saw them give up Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson, and their 2018 second-round pick. However, the early reviews on Payne in Chicago were negative, and he continues to be plagued by foot issues. If the Bulls want to maximize their cap flexibility in 2018, they’ll have to think hard about letting Payne become an unrestricted free agent.
  3. Kevon Looney, Warriors (fourth year, $2,227,081): The Warriors will likely have the NBA’s highest tax bill this season, and figure to be well over the threshold next year too. That means Looney’s fairly modest $2.23MM salary will be worth exponentially more in tax payments. The former UCLA standout has only played 468 total minutes in his first two NBA seasons, so unless the Warriors plan on having him take on a much larger role in year three, it may make sense to turn down this option — the Dubs can get more bang for their buck by signing a minimum-salary veteran.
  4. Josh Huestis, Thunder (fourth year, $2,243,326): Even after being stashed in the G League for his first professional season, Huestis hasn’t proven ready to contribute during his first two years with the Thunder — he has played in just seven regular season NBA games. Oklahoma City doesn’t have a deep roster this season after completing a pair of two-for-one trades for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, so now would be the time for Huestis to step up. If the taxpaying Thunder aren’t confident he can do so, they should re-allocate their 2018/19 money elsewhere.
  5. Rashad Vaughn, Bucks (fourth year, $2,901,565): The Bucks’ roster is littered with promising young players expected to be part of the long-term core in Milwaukee, but Vaughn has remained on the outside of that group looking in. A former 17th overall pick, Vaughn has struggled mightily during his first two NBA seasons, with a shooting line of just .327/.303/.700 in 111 games. Still, the 6’6″ guard has looked good in the preseason, and is still just 21 years old, which will make the Bucks reluctant to give up on his potential quite yet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Warriors Bid For All-Star Game

  • The Warriors‘ new arena in San Francisco is schedule to open in time for the 2019/20 season. The franchise has recently submitted a bid to hold an All-Star Game there, Chris Haynes and Marc Spears of ESPN write. Sources tell them that the earliest the bid could be for is the 2021 All-Star Game.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, DVEs, Curry, Crawford

Klay Thompson was recently asked on The Athletic’s podcast about whether he’d be willing to accept any sort of discount to remain with the Warriors on his next contract, and the veteran sharpshooter suggested he’d be open to it. As Tim Kawakami of The Athletic notes, it’s not a surprise that Thompson would be willing to entertain a somewhat team-friendly deal, since he’s not inclined to be the player who blows up a potential Warriors dynasty.

Thompson’s free agency is still two years away, so it’s not like a decision is required of him right away, but for their part, the Warriors are appreciative of his sentiment, says Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News.

“Our guys know how special this era is. I think that’s the main thing Klay is trying to express,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “This is a pretty special era. We know this isn’t going to last for a long time. We’d like to be part of it and also know how special it is to be a part of it. That means more than money. That doesn’t mean you’re going to give up everything. But you do what you can to make a living and make the best living you can and best life that you can. Whatever balance that is, that’s what guys are going to do.”

Here’s more from out of the Bay Area:

  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic explains how the Designated Veteran Extension rule – which gives players an early shot at the full 35% max – could have an impact on Thompson and Draymond Green. Teams are limited to two DVEs on their roster, and Stephen Curry already has one of the two for Golden State. Still, Kevin Durant won’t require a DVE because he already has 10 years worth of NBA experience, and I’d be surprised if both Thompson and Green prove worthy of that significant an offer down the road. I wouldn’t expect it to become an issue for the Dubs.
  • As the Warriors prepared for the offseason in the spring, owner Joe Lacob was considering offering Curry a contract worth less than the max in free agency, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. GM Bob Myers kept Lacob from bringing that reduced offer to the negotiating table, according to Thompson, and Curry ultimately ended up with a five-year max deal.
  • Speaking on Wednesday to reporters, including Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link), Jamal Crawford confirmed that he received some early interest from the Warriors when he reached the free agent market this offseason. However, it didn’t go anywhere.
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