During what was supposed to be a week full of optimism for the Golden State Warriors, news of Klay Thompson’s season-ending Achilles injury sent the franchise into panic mode. The Dubs got word about Klay just hours before the 2020 NBA Draft, where the organization had its highest pick since 1995.
General manager Bob Myers got the player he wanted, selecting University of Memphis big man James Wiseman No. 2 overall to fill a major need at center. The hope was that the Warriors would be able to fill in the roster around Thompson, Wiseman, Stephen Curry and Draymond with some cheap veteran options during free agency.
With Thompson gone until the 2021-22 season, Myers acted quickly, using the $17.2 million trade exception to acquire forward Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for a protected 2021 first-round pick, that could turn into two second-round selections.
He’s not Thompson, but Oubre will provide some much-needed scoring for the Dubs, who can go with a starting lineup of Curry, Wiggins, Oubre, Green and Wiseman, which projects to be one of the best five-man units in the NBA, but issues remain with the bench depth.
Head coach Steve Kerr has Eric Paschall, Kevon Looney, Marquese Chriss and some unproven options like Jordan Poole, Damion Lee and Ky Bowman to work with on his second unit. That’s not exactly going to scare opposing teams.
Myers will have some options to bolster the bench. Golden State has its roughly $5.7 mid-level exception plus the $9.3 million injury exception due to Klay being out. The two cannot be combined to make a larger offer to a free agent.
With the salary cap staying flat for the 2020-21 NBA season, some free agents will sign team-friendly deals in hopes of cashing in summer. The older players could opt to sign one-year contracts to secure another payday next offseason.
Here are some of the players the Warriors could target with their exceptions.
The best but unlikely options:
Danilo Gallinari: It seems far-fetched, but the 32-year-old might be willing to sign a one-year contract while waiting for the cap to increase next season. One team that might be willing to commit multiple years to Gallinari is the Atlanta Hawks, who have plenty of cap space and hope to contend for a playoff spot next year.
Jae Crowder: He is the best fit with the Dubs. Crowder is the ideal 3-and-D wing for this roster. There have been reports that the Miami Heat are interested in bringing him back, but if he walks, Golden State’s $9.3 million offer for one season could be enough to entice him to come to the Bay Area.
Kris Dunn: The 26-year-old is excellent on the defensive end, something the Warriors will need with Thompson’s loss. Unfortunately, he’s a liability on the offensive end, where he shot just 25.3% from the beyond the arc last season.
Alec Burks: Hello again. Burks likely won’t be brought back by the Philadelphia 76ers after the Dubs traded him there last season. Burks would give Kerr a familiar option off the bench who is capable of playing 15 to 18 minutes per night.
Which players are you hoping the Warriors can sign during free agency?