Marquese Chriss

Warriors Officially Sign Damion Lee To Three-Year Deal

Damion Lee‘s long-awaited promotion to the Warriors‘ 15-man roster is now official, with the team announcing the move today in a press release.

Lee, who was previously on a two-way contract, signed a new three-year deal with a partial guarantee for the 2020/21 season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Next season’s partial guarantee will be worth $600K, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

The promotion had been expected since last Tuesday, when the team released Marquese Chriss in order to make room under its hard cap to sign Lee. For his part, Chriss has returned to the team on a two-way contract, essentially swapping places with Lee.

Lee, who is Stephen Curry‘s brother-in-law, has been a regular rotation player all season long for the injury-plagued Warriors, averaging 12.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.3 APG with a solid shooting line of .407/.360/.877 in 26 games (13 starts). The 27-year-old had exhausted the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way deal, but will no longer face those restrictions on his new standard contract.

Golden State has had little financial wiggle room all season long due to its hard cap and will now be approximately $394K below the threshold, according to Marks (Twitter link). Marks notes that the Warriors will be able to sign a 15th man to a rest-of-season contract as of March 4 if no trades or 10-day signings before then affect the club’s cap sheet.

The Warriors were able to sign Lee to a three-year, minimum-salary contract by using their mid-level exception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Re-Sign Marquese Chriss To Two-Way Deal

JANUARY 15: Chriss’ two-way contract is now official, according to the Warriors.

JANUARY 14: Just days after waiving him, the Warriors intend to bring back Marquese Chriss on a two-way contract, reports Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).

Chriss has spent most of the 2019/20 season with the Warriors and played well in a part-time role, averaging 7.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.9 APG in 37 games (17.7 MPG). However, he was released last Tuesday in advance of the league-wide salary guarantee deadline because Golden State wanted to maximize its flexibility under the team’s hard cap. The two sides were said to have mutual interest in a reunion.

The Warriors reportedly plan to promote two-way player Damion Lee to their standard roster to fill the spot that Chriss previously occupied, so the two players will essentially be swapping places. The pair of moves will need to be completed by the end of the day on Wednesday, since January 15 is the deadline for two-way signings.

Lee has already used his full 45-day NBA allotment this season but can be activated again once he signs a standard contract. As a newly-signed two-way player, Chriss will be eligible to spend up to 24 days in the NBA between now and the end of the G League regular season in March. Once the G League season ends, those restrictions will lift and he can spend the rest of the year in the NBA.

Head coach Steve Kerr had previously talked about Chriss potentially having a future in Golden State beyond 2019/20. The big man’s new two-way contract will make him a free agent at the end of the season, but the Warriors will still have options for re-signing him, particularly if he isn’t offered a sizable raise by a rival team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Evans, Chriss, Lee

Klay Thompson made a rare appearance in front of the media on Tuesday, speaking publicly to reporters for the first time since the Warriors‘ preseason media day. As Nick Friedell of ESPN.com relays, Thompson said his ACL rehab is “going great,” adding that he hasn’t closed the door on the possibility of returning before the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

“Obviously, I wish I could be out there,” Thompson said. “It’s been a long process. I haven’t stopped working since the third day after Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. You might not see me a lot, but I’m working. I don’t know what’s going to come this season, I would love to get out there.”

Despite his optimism and his desire to get back on the court, Thompson seems unlikely to return before the fall. With the Warriors on track to finish dead-last in the Western Conference, the team will be more cautious than ever with the veteran sharpshooter, who is in the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract. Thompson sounds like he understands that line of thinking, as Friedell details.

“I’m trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again, so I’ll be very patient because I want to play at a high level ’til my late 30s,” he said.

Here’s more on the Dubs:

  • Warriors guard Jacob Evans was taken to a hospital after colliding with Mavericks big man Dwight Powell in the second quarter of Tuesday’s game, according to Friedell. Evans, who took an elbow to the face during the collision, stayed on the floor for several minutes before leaving the game. The team has yet to issue an update on his diagnosis or his potential recovery timeline.
  • The Warriors found a creative way to ultimately retain Marquese Chriss and Damion Lee and keep both players active, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Chriss projects to reach the 24-day NBA limit on his new two-way contract in early March, but Slater suggests the former lottery pick is the frontrunner to be promoted to Golden State’s 15-man roster at that time. The Warriors can’t add a 15th man until late in the season due to their hard cap.
  • Chriss has officially signed his two-way contract with the Warriors, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The team hasn’t announced the finalized deal yet, since Lee will need to be moved to the 15-man roster before Chriss can fill his two-way slot.

Warriors, Marquese Chriss Have Mutual Interest In Reunion

The Warriors waived goodbye to Marquese Chriss prior to his contract becoming guaranteed, though the team has not shut the door on a reunion. Monte Poole of NBC Sports hears that Golden State is high on Chriss’ future and was seeking a way to retain him. However, the Dubs were unable to clear a roster spot before waiving him today.

“He’s a good, young talent,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Tuesday. “He’s developed. He’s got a fantastic attitude. He’s somebody we were all really hoping we could keep.

“But the rules stipulate that we had to shed money. And this was the end result. Everybody is disappointed — players, coaches, front office. But this is how it worked.”

The franchise needed to open a spot on the roster for Damion Lee, who has just two days of eligibility remaining for the NBA club, as he’s on a two-way contract. Lee and the Warriors are reportedly close to finalizing a multiyear pact.

Golden State could trade away one of its veterans, such as Alec Burks or Willie Cauley-Stein, before the February 6 deadline and open up a roster spot. Poole adds that Chriss, who appeared in 37 games for the club this season, would like to return in the future.

Warriors Waive Marquese Chriss, Will Promote Damion Lee

1:58pm: The Warriors and Lee are working to finalize a multiyear deal that will includes partial guarantees in future seasons, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The team could offer Lee up to a four-year deal using its mid-level exception.

7:35am: The Warriors completed a somewhat surprising roster move late on Monday night, waiving big man Marquese Chriss, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Using the newly-available roster spot, Golden State will promote two-way player Damion Lee, giving him a standard contract, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

With only 14 players on their 15-man roster before cutting Chriss, the Warriors technically already had a roster spot available to promote Lee. However, the club’s flexibility was limited by its hard cap — with only about $375K in breathing room, there wasn’t enough space to give Lee a prorated minimum salary contract without waiving Chriss, whose salary wasn’t fully guaranteed.

By releasing Chriss in advance of today’s guarantee deadline, Golden State will reduce his cap hit from $1,620,564 to $758,804, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Lee’s cap hit for the remainder of the season, if he signs on Tuesday, will be $915,573, moving the Warriors slightly closer to their hard cap.

The team will retain its open 15th roster spot, which could still be used later in the season – perhaps on two-way player Ky Bowman – once the prorated minimum salary declines to the point where it would fit beneath the hard cap.

As Slater explains in a full story at The Athletic, parting ways with Chriss wasn’t an easy decision for the Warriors, or a popular one within “some pockets of the organization.” A former lottery pick, Chriss is just 22 years old, was well-liked in the locker room, and had played well in a part-time role this season, with 7.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.9 APG in 37 games (17.7 MPG).

However, according to Slater, when Lee agreed to return to the Warriors during the 2019 offseason, he did so with an understanding that he wouldn’t be spending any real time in the G League, and would get a standard roster spot once he exhausted his 45-day NBA limit. Lee has just two of those 45 days remaining, necessitating a move.

In an ideal world, the Warriors would’ve kept both Lee and Chriss, Slater notes. Golden State may have preferred to create space for both players by trading a minimum-salary veteran like Alec Burks or Glenn Robinson III, but with no deal in place, today’s salary guarantee deadline forced the club’s hand on Chriss.

There’s still a chance Chriss could be back at some point — Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets that Golden State definitely hasn’t lost interest in him. But there’s no guarantee that another team won’t scoop him up as a free agent, or even via a waiver claim.

“They said it’s been a tough decision,” Chriss told Slater, after learning of his release. “It is what it is. I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve shown what I’m capable of. I’ve shown I belong. People make business decisions.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Chriss, Clippers Arena, Johnson, KCP

Warriors forward Marquese Chriss has been fined $35K for shoving Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic to the floor, according to an NBA press release. The amount of the fine was based in part on the fact that Chriss has been disciplined on several prior occasions for physical altercations on the court. The incident, for which Chriss was assessed a technical foul, occurred during the third quarter on Saturday.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers’ proposed arena will contribute to a “significant and unavoidable” increase in traffic, noise and pollutants, according to a draft environmental impact report, Jason Henry of the Orange County Register relays. The report found there will be a significant impact to intersections and freeways during most of the venue’s events, regardless of any improvements. The Clippers are hoping to construct a new arena that will open in 2024.
  • Tyler Johnson is the most likely player the Suns will deal before February’s trade deadline, Gina Mizell of The Athletic opines. Johnson’s $19.2MM expiring contract is the best trade asset the Suns have, Mizell notes. The 27-year-old combo guard has seen his playing time dry up, as he’s only appeared in four games this month.
  • Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has caught fire since being moved to the bench, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register notes. Caldwell-Pope, who holds an $8.49MM option on his contract for next season, has knocked down 11 of his last 15 3-point attempts. “It’s a credit to his mental toughness and character,” coach Frank Vogel said. “At times guys can go in a shell if they’re facing heavy criticism and he didn’t do that. He responded by remaining confident, being true to himself, believing in himself.”

Warriors Willing To Trade Alec Burks, Other Veterans

Shooting guard Alec Burks is among several players the Warriors are willing to part with before the February 6 trade deadline, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Poole suggests Golden State could be one of the most active teams on the trade market after virtually ignoring it during the past five years.

He identifies Burks as the most coveted of the Warriors’ assets because he can stretch defenses and has an affordable contract at $2.3MM. Burks is averaging 15.5 PPG through 30 games and shooting 34.9% from 3-point range.

Poole names the Lakers, Mavericks, Clippers, Pacers and Raptors as teams that could use another wing player who can shoot from the outside. He states that the Warriors will be looking for future assets such as draft picks and young players.

Although Golden State’s front office likes Burks, they need to open up roster spots soon to keep two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman, who are both nearing their 45-day NBA limit. Lee has 12 days remaining and Bowman has 11. After that, they will have to have their contracts converted to NBA deals or remain in the G League until that season is over.

“It’s an awkward situation for us, because Ky and Damion are coming up on their limit,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Friday’s game. “And they’re two of our top seven players in our rotation. And yet the rules are that we only have them for another nine or 10 days each. Everybody is aware of that. We don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

Several league sources told Poole that the Warriors are ready to move into serious trade discussions. They added several veterans over the summer on contracts that they believed would be easy to move when the time came.

Those include Glenn Robinson III at $1.9MM, Marquese Chriss at a non-guaranteed $1.7MM and Willie Cauley-Stein at $2.2MM with a $2.3MM player option for next season. They also traded for Omari Spellman, who makes $1.9MM this year, and picked up his option for 2020/21 at nearly $2MM.

Warriors Notes: Curry, 2020 Draft, Kerr, Chriss

Stephen Curry recently rejoined the Warriors as he continues to recover from his broken left hand, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Curry, who underwent a second procedure earlier this month to remove the pins from his hand, had been in Los Angeles for a couple weeks, but has since resumed rehabbing the injury with the club.

“He’s been doing basketball movements,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said on Sunday. “He hasn’t been shooting the ball, but he’s been out on the floor doing a lot of lateral movement, jumping, that kind of stuff. And it’s nice to have him in the gym; it just feels better when he’s around.”

Curry’s recovery timeline hasn’t changed at all since he underwent his first surgery on November 1, Friedell notes. The plan is still for the former MVP to be re-evaluated at the three-month mark, which will happen at the start of February.

Here’s more on the Dubs:

  • The Warriors’ down year represents a rare opportunity for the franchise to land a top-five pick, but Ethan Strauss of The Athletic wouldn’t be surprised if Golden State ends up trading its 2020 first-rounder. As Strauss observes, the Warriors will want to add win-now pieces to their veteran core in the offseason, and the 2020 draft class is short on players who can make an immediate impact.
  • After leading to the Warriors to the NBA Finals for five straight years, Steve Kerr has had a much different job description this year for the injury-plagued, lottery-bound version of the club. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic details, Kerr has welcomed the challenge of coaching Golden State’s young, non-star players. “I’ve learned how to be a better coach, honestly,” Kerr said.
  • Marquese Chriss, the only player on the Warriors’ roster without a fully guaranteed salary for 2019/20, seems unlikely to be waived before his guarantee deadline next month, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. In fact, Thompson believes the former lottery pick might even stick with the club beyond this season. “I see a future for Marquese with this team,” Kerr recently said during an appearance on KNBR.

Hollinger’s Latest: Blazers, Warriors, Load Management

There hasn’t been an NBA trade since mid-July but the Trail Blazers appear to be a prime candidate to make a deal, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Zach Collins‘ shoulder injury, which is expected to cost him most of the season, creates an even bigger need at an already thin position. Journeyman Anthony Tolliver is the only true power forward remaining on the roster, Hollinger notes. The Blazers could also use another small forward in their rotation.

Portland has some desirable assets, including expiring contracts, young players and draft picks, in order to upgrade its forward spots. One offshoot of the Collins injury that the Blazers are playing with smaller, faster lineups and that could prove beneficial.

There’s more from Hollinger:

  • The Warriors may trade one of their free agent additions on expiring contracts in order to add one of their two-way players to the 15-man roster. Golden State is pushed up against the hard cap and could free some money by dealing center Willie Cauley-Stein or guard Alec Burks. Any potential deal involving a free agent signed this summer can’t happen until mid-December.
  • Waiving Marquese Chriss‘ non-guaranteed deal is also a strong possibility for Golden State, considering Chriss has already had his role reduced after a strong preseason. The Warriors have already used up eight of the 45 days on the service clock of two-way players Damion Lee and Ky Bowman and can’t convert either to a standard contract unless they make another move.
  • People who criticize load management fail to realize that the modern game is much more taxing on players’ bodies than in past decades, Hollinger writes. The goal is to maximize the number of high-quality games the player can play and that makes it a sound strategy.

Warriors Waive Alfonzo McKinnie

OCTOBER 19: The Warriors have now officially waived McKinnie, a source tells Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). He’ll be on waivers until Monday at 5:00pm eastern time and could be claimed by any team. However, a club would need an open roster spot to make a claim, and McKinnie’s contract can’t be converted into a two-way deal.

OCTOBER 18: The Warriors are waiving forward Alfonzo McKinnie, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who notes (via Twitter) that the move will clear the way for Marquese Chriss to earn a spot on the team’s regular season roster.

McKinnie, 27, emerged as a rotation player for Golden State last season, averaging 4.7 PPG and 3.4 RPG with a .487/.356/.563 shooting line in 72 regular season games (13.9 MPG). He also appeared in 22 playoff games for the club.

Because the Warriors are right up against a hard cap, the team can only carry 14 players on its roster to start the regular season. Golden State has 13 players on guaranteed salaries.

McKinnie – who has a non-guaranteed contract – was widely considered the favorite to claim the 14th and final spot. However, an impressive training camp and preseason by Chriss, a former lottery pick, forced the Warriors’ hand.

Chriss is technically eligible to sign a two-way deal, but because his non-guaranteed contract didn’t feature an Exhibit 10 clause, it can’t be converted into a two-way contract, so the Dubs would’ve had to put him through waivers for that to be a possibility. Instead, they’ll just keep him on their standard roster, releasing McKinnie instead.

The NBA’s waiver order is currently based on 2018/19 records, with last year’s worst teams at the top of the priority list. Any team can place a claim for McKinnie using the minimum salary exception.