Warriors trade scenarios: What I’m hearing about Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman and more
BOSTON – The deal with the most seismic deadline Golden State Warriors that they have done during the tenure of Bob Myers came three seasons ago. They turned around By Angelo Russell for Andrew Wiggins and the draft pick that became Jonathan Kumingaavoiding the luxury tax in the process.
But that deal was executed when the Warriors were 12-40, long removed from playoff status. It was basically an advantage in his offseason linked to a financial gymnastics that allowed cost savings. Most of the other years, while they were fighting, they have remained silent in the N.B.A trade deadline, only occasionally nibbling on the margins.
Last season, they didn’t touch their squad at all. The same 15 players who filled the opening night roster were still there the night they won the title in Boston. You could have argued for more urgency at the deadline. They were 41-15 but starting to fall Draymond Green out, leaving a theoretical need for front insurance behind the overloaded Kevon Looney. They looked like they needed a jolt to realistically threaten a title.
Myers stood up. They won the title anyway.
The best doppelgänger for this current Warriors season is actually two years ago. The Warriors hovered around .500 during the middle months. On the day of the 2021 trade deadline, they were 22-22, which is exactly their current record. During that 2020-21 season, they chose not to move Kelly Oubre Jr. —his most available chip—and instead made two small term moves: pay Charlotte to take Brad Wanamaker and Saint Anthony to take Marquese Chriss.
This removed two sites from the list and saved some cash. If players are delisted, their entire salary no longer counts towards the luxury tax. The Warriors, with a cheap prorated contract in the final week of the season, finally became a two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson in one of those empty spots and tried a few options for the other, finally landing Gary Payton IIstarting a partnership that paid off a season later.
Sources with knowledge of the Warriors’ thinking, who were granted anonymity so they could speak freely, point to this type of strategic profiling as the most likely path for these current Warriors. Those in the know aren’t expecting a strong trade deadline with a substantial roster shake-up, but are anticipating something on the sidelines, if at all. Here is a more detailed summary of the situation.
• A backup center com Jakob Poeltl or Kelly Olynyk would profile as a useful rotation upgrade. The Warriors already have an established starting lineup, an effective sixth man in heavy use (Jordan Poole) and two more bench players (Don DiVincenzo and Jonathan Kuminga) who have established themselves. That’s eight. After that, the full-strength playoff rotation is not settled.
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JaMychal Green i James Wiseman they are currently out. Green is closer to a return than Wiseman. He still has time to claim the ninth spot, but JaMychal Green struggled before his season was completely derailed by a leg infection that briefly hospitalized him. His absence opened the door for Wiseman, who got a look but then sprained his ankle on a play and has missed six straight games.
Poeltl or Olynyk would be clear upgrades over either. Poeltl earns $9.4 million in the final season of his contract with San Antonio. Olynyk is making $12.8 million this season in Utah and has $3 million partially guaranteed on top of his $12.2 million salary next season. In theory, the short financial commitment is appealing to the Warriors. They face a well-documented fiscal crisis and are not interested in adding committed salary beyond this season, which eliminates many of the league’s other trade options.
That problem doesn’t exist with Poeltl or Olynyk. But it creates another problem that they struggle to overcome. Poeltl and Olynyk, for the Warriors, would be considered rentals. There are teams that would be more than willing to keep Olynyk on the $12.2 million roster next season or extend Poeltl to his market price in the summer, likely in the mid-teens to $20 million of dollars per season. But owner Joe Lacob and the Warriors aren’t keen on what that would do to their future tax bill, already projected beyond their comfortable threshold.
You’d really be talking about three months of a backup center that wouldn’t start or close games behind Looney and Draymond Green and then disappear in the offseason. Would it be worth it to mortgage the draft picks that would cost, presumably, more Wiseman and his equal salary? It could be argued. Otto Porter Jr. he averaged just 19.5 minutes in his 19 playoff appearances last season, but was a consistent part of their title run. Ninth men can matter.
But the Warriors are protectors of their future. Lacob has been explicit in his desire to thread the needle and manage the assets of this franchise in a window of never-ending relevance. Here are the drawbacks. Commercial term rentals inherently have a negative long-term impact for an immediate hit. The Warriors do not move with the desperation to maximize the present.
• It’s also why Kuminga, Wiseman and Moody are likely to be with the Warriors beyond the deadline. They are not actively shopping their three recent lottery picks, according to those sources with knowledge of the Warriors’ thinking. This does not mean that they I could not be moved in the right deal, but a rival team hoping to get them would look to get Moody or Wiseman in a bargain, and the Warriors aren’t in selloff mode.
Kuminga’s situation is a little different. He’s shown more and could score more, but he’s also worth more to the Warriors. Given what he has shown as an individual point guard, something the rest of this roster lacks, there is an internal belief that he will be a necessary contributor to the playoff rotation.
• The Warriors are more interested in adding a versatile multi-position wing than an extra big man, according to these sources. Assuming health, Draymond Green, Looney, or both will be on the court for nearly every relevant playoff minute. So the priority would be to add an adaptable rotation option that could scale up and down depending on who else Steve Kerr is using at any given time.
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Porter was that. There are younger wings that fit that description, like now Jalen McDaniels, Darius Bazley, Rui Hachimura i Obi Toppin, all according to the available levels of different. But then again, the price would likely be too high when offered against teams more interested in signing those types of long-term restricted free agents.
• For these reasons, the Warriors profile more as a shopping team than a trading team. This is the unrestricted market with no assets used, adding a veteran in a prorated deal. Last season, they had no roster or rotation spot to offer buyout candidates. This season they should have both.
• Anthony Xai issues in this discussion. He’s currently a regular part of the Warriors’ rotation, averaging 25.9 minutes per game this month and making 42 percent of his 3s on the season. He is on a two-way contract and has already used 36 of his 50 eligible games, serving as frontcourt depth for a team that has needed it.
The expectation is that Lamb will eventually make the 15-man roster. They have a spot open, and that void will be filled by someone for the playoffs, according to these sources. It’s a no-brainer to fill it out. Even if you wait until the final week, as they did two seasons ago with Toscano-Anderson, the salary is prorated, limiting the tax impact. So there will be a 15th.
If that’s Lamb, and if another player needs to be added via trade, free agent signing or the trade market, another spot on the roster would need to be cleared. The most financially prudent way to do this is at the deadline, as the Warriors did with Wanamaker and Chriss a couple of years ago, eliminating the tax hit. If JaMychal Green doesn’t bounce back and earn a more solid rotation spot before the deadline, he’d be the most obvious candidate.
(Jonathan Kuminga photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today)
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