Six Free Agents For The Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are coming off arguably their best season in nearly 20 years. While the 2006-07 team offered plenty of excitement with their first-round upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks, this year’s team provided something well beyond a short-lived blip on the radar: Promise. With a roster chock full of skill and youth, the Warriors finished second in the Pacific Division for just the first time since the 1991-92 season. Head coach Mark Jackson has one of the most promising backcourts in the league with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and one of the more balanced supporting casts surrounding them.
While reserves Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush have player options ($11 million and $4 million, respectively) for the upcoming season, it is not anticipated that either of the two are planning on opting out in order to test free agency. Carl Landry, on the other hand, is expected to opt out of the final year (and $4 million) of his deal in order to determine what he can garner on the open market. There’s a chance, on the strength of Landry’s merits from the 2012-13 season and postseason, he’ll attract the mid-level exception ($5.15 million) from a team looking to add a proven veteran big man. His ability to efficiently provide instant energy and offense, as well as rebounding productivity – six boards per game in just over 23 minutes – are assets that teams covet.
Unrestricted free agent Jarrett Jack is the biggest question mark of the Warriors’ offseason. After posting 12.9 points, 5.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds in just under 30 minutes per night throughout the regular season, Jack boosted his potential free agent value even higher with 17.2 points on 50.6 percent shooting in 12 postseason games. Much like now former Nuggets head coach George Karl utilized Andre Miller for several years, Coach Jackson expertly balanced Jack’s minutes between providing relief for Curry when necessary and inserting Jack into a three-guard lineup (alongside Curry and Thompson) to close many games. Jack’s ability to be a dual-threat as a scoring guard that could also distribute permitted the Warriors to further capitalize on Curry’s ability as a spot-up shooter. For the record, Curry not only took (600) and made (272) the most three’s in the NBA, but he was also third in the league at .453 percent from beyond the arc. Jack’s presence certainly had an impact upon those figures.
In a recent interview with Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, Warriors general manager Bob Myers addressed the notion of spending into the NBA luxury tax threshold in order to sign or re-sign players.
“We’ve shown last year–I can tell you, it was a decision we made with Carl Landry, with his signing, and re-acquiring Brandon Rush,” Myers said. “Do we want to go into the tax? And the dialogue our front office had with our ownership was, ‘Are you comfortable going into the tax? And we cannot promise that we’ll be able to get out of the tax.’ Ownership answered in the affirmative. ‘Go, if you think Carl Landry and Brandon Rush are going to be important to this team, go get ‘em.’ I imagine it’ll be the same directive this summer.”
It certainly appears the organization is willing to take the necessary steps in order to build upon this year’s success, but it isn’t clear whether they will sign Landry and Jack at any cost or choose to spend money on alternative free agents. Here is a list of six potential free agent targets:
Devin Harris (Point Guard)
If the Warriors aren’t able to re-sign Jack, Harris could be a cheaper alternative. Even though Harris is just ending a five-year, $43 million contract as he heads into his 10th season, it is believed that he can likely be signed for less than the mid-level exception. In comparable minutes, Harris could offset much of the productivity lost if Jack were to sign elsewhere.
Jose Calderon (Point Guard)
Don’t be surprised if you see this name pop up on several team’s radar, as Calderon would be a more-than-welcome addition to just about any roster. His playmaking ability and shooting would fit perfectly with Golden State, and his 39.9 career three-point percentage would make the Warriors’ three-guard lineup one of the deadlier outside shooting crews in the league.
Tony Allen (Shooting Guard)
Allen may not fit the Warriors’ mold as a shooter, but he can provide the type of intensity and defensive pressure on the perimeter that the team was sorely lacking during large stretches of 2012-13. Allen can be such a disruptive force on the defensive end that his lack of outside shooting can be completely overlooked, especially on a team with Curry and Thompson. The Warriors have the offensive prowess, but could certainly use a bit of the grit and fight Allen provides.
Elton Brand (Power Forward)
If Golden State isn’t able to agree to terms with Landry, Brand could be a very strong veteran alternative. Gone, are the 20-and-10 days of yesteryear that Brand routinely posted as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, but the 34-year-old can provide veteran savvy and post toughness on both ends of the court, and likely at a cheaper rate than some of the other free agent options.
Andray Blatche (Center)
With Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins having missed a combined 79 games during the 2012-13 regular season, you can never have enough quality insurance at the center position. While Blatche had plenty of reported issues as a member of the Washington Wizards, he seemed to turn a big corner from a professionalism standpoint as a member of the Brooklyn Nets last season. Along with that maturity came steady productivity in the form of 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in under 20 minutes of action.
Ryan Hollins (Center)
In the event that Golden State is able to re-sign Jack, but doesn’t want to dig deeper into the luxury tax by re-signing Landry, Hollins could be a suitable replacement as a big man who can provide energy off the bench. Hollins’ price tag is almost certain to be a mere fraction of what Landry will command, as the seventh-year big man made a very affordable $1.07 million with the Los Angeles Clippers during 2012-13.
Much of this is contingent upon what the Warriors do with Jack, as his true impact would likely be more difficult to replace than Landry’s. That isn’t to say the organization shouldn’t also consider re-signing Landry, but there are more players on the market with his skill set and at the Warriors’ price than with Jack’s.