Compared to their more active peers, the Golden State Warriors quietly made some free agency moves to shore up their roster for the upcoming NBA season.
Sure, re-signing Stephen Curry to a four-year, $215-million extension is headline worthy in itself, but it, along with the rest of their transactions, got lost in the flurry of player movement and rumors from players who reportedly want out (i.e., Ben Simmons).
Apart from the Curry extension, Kevon Looney exercising his $5.2 million option for 2021-2022 and the signings of Andre Iguodala (one year, $2.6 million), Otto Porter Jr. (one year, $2.4 million), Nemanja Bjelica (one year, $2.1 million), and Chris Chiozza (two-way contract) barely registered in casual NBA circles save for perhaps Iguodala’s homecoming, which brought back memories of the title run in the mid-2010s.
Even the drafting of Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody was met with more fanfare, and the early returns from the Las Vegas Summer League have been promising. The bridge to the next generation of Golden State’s core is slowly being built all while having solid and young contributors for this current iteration of the Warriors.
Quiet may not be good enough for some, but for Golden State, it may be just what they need to get them back into contender status.
The Warriors will continue to fill up the rest of their roster with veterans considering their cap situation, which is not something uncommon in this day and age as many teams have stars taking up more than half of the salary cap. In the case of Golden State, they have three players above 30 (Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green) taking up nearly the entire salary cap for 2021-2022. This doesn’t include the contract of Andrew Wiggins, who will earn $31.6 million in 2021-2022.
They could even opt to keep a spot or two open throughout the season in order to take advantage of any players that will emerge in the buyout market. History has shown that this has been one of their formulas to success as Shaun Livingston, David West, JaVale McGee, and Marreese Speights were some of the previous Warriors veteran signings that played critical roles during certain stretches of their title runs.
Taken together, the benefits of bringing back Curry need not be said, but when you combine it with their recent signings, it makes sense since they do plan to maximize Curry’s remaining best years. This also comes with the impending return from Klay Thompson, who has spent the past two years recovering from a torn left ACL in his knee and a torn right Achilles heel.
How this differs from the philosophy of the Los Angeles Clippers, who are betting on their health, is that Golden State have been buyers in the free agency market with a particular set of skills in mind: multi-positional players who can be threats from the perimeter.
Doing so means that they will continue to deploy small-ball lineups especially as center James Wiseman continues his development. Aside from Green, Looney is the only other big man on the roster after the Warriors traded Eric Paschall to the Utah Jazz for a 2026 second-round pick that will come via the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s likely that Looney will get spot minutes for stretches of time unless Wiseman or Green sits out.
Golden State has thrived with as many as four guards in their lineup, with the system allowing for multiple options that will more often than not result in an open 3-pointer or an easy basket inside. It could be a formula that could help them get through the regular season, but it could be a concern heading into the playoffs, especially when the games get more physical and the mismatches in certain matchups get exposed.
It feels like a long time ago since Warriors owner Joe Lacob said that Golden State was “light years” ahead in terms of planning and putting together a team, among other things. The past two seasons have seen the rest of the league catch up and how they take on this coming season will determine if the Warriors can return to contender status or are now just part of the faces in a crowded Western Conference.
Injuries have prevented the Golden State Warriors from making noise in the last two postseasons, and they’ve had to take a more subdued approach to their offseason. Only time will tell how the results will pan out, but in the meantime, they continue to work in silence in pursuit of success. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the Warriors are behind only the Lakers odds-wise to make it out of the West this season.