While you were trying to estimate whether you had enough propane or lighter fluid to get through an afternoon of grilling yesterday, the Warriors signed Zaza Pachulia to a one-year, $2.9 million contract using what’s called a “room exception.” I had written earlier in the day that Pachulia would probably be the best fit of all the remaining available veteran centers, but I doubted he’d fit into the Warriors’ budget.
The Warriors are finding — or already knew based on conversations with players and agents leading up to Kevin Durant’s decision — that it’s not all that difficult to get established players to hop on board for the chance at a title, the fun that comes with it, and perhaps even the kind of inflated payday a year from now we’ve seen other champions receive.
David West to the Warriors on a one-year deal, per source, for vet minimum.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 5, 2016
The same David West who said no to the Warriors and took a massive paycut to play with the Spurs last year is unabashedly jumping from title contender to title contender. And that’s fine with the Warriors, because other than Draymond Green — who’s lost quite a bit of weight since his rookie season — the Durantified Warriors were a team of waifs before adding these two bruisers.
Pachulia will start at center, allowing Andre Iguodala to once again be a reserve who plays in the closing lineup during close games. The Georgian center is no rim protector, but he’s fearless, a great teammate, and someone who can set thunderous screens while providing a huge added bonus. He’s a 75% career free throw shooter.
West is a career 82% free throw shooter who made 54.5% of his shots from the field last season. He steps into Mo Speights’ spot as a reserve PF/C, and while he won’t step back and nail the occasional 3-pointer like Buckets, he’s a much better defender who had a net rating of +16 (114 offense, 98 defense) with San Antonio. Speights was a -1 (102 offense, 103 defense), and while he made 38.7% of his threes last year and said Steve Kerr wanted him to shoot more, we’re only talking about 43 career made 3-pointers from a guy who had trouble finishing around the rim in the playoffs.
Granted, Speights is an absurdly fun guy to have around, especially when he goes into “Splash Uncle” mode and speaks to Ros afterward on CSN Bay Area (subtitles often required). But he can get more than the veteran’s minimum in this market with his size and range, and the Warriors effectively told him to go chase that paper.
The Warriors are now looking for consistent, ring-chasing vets who don’t mind accepting $1.55 million for their trouble, and one can only imagine who they’re targeting now. Leandro Barbosa is still useful on this team as a change-of-pace bench guard who impressed during the Finals — simply because he was one of the few players who didn’t get tight when things got difficult. He can probably get more in this market, like Speights. But Blur and Kerr are joined at the hip and he’s a fun-loving spirit, so it’s tough to see him saying no to this party if the Warriors extend an invite.
What about Ray Allen or Larry Sanders, two players who didn’t play last season? How about both? David Lee is a fan favorite, but I’m not sure the Warriors want to go down that road one more time. Long-distance shooting and rim protection are what this bench needs, although “needs” is a relative term for a roster this filthy. Dewayne Dedmon, who spent a little time shuttling back and forth from Santa Cruz to Oakland in the early part of the 2013 season, could provide some shot-blocking. Maybe Ekpe Udoh or even Dorell Wright might be interested in returning.
The Warriors could always re-sign Brandon Rush and/or James Michael McAdoo, according to Danny Leroux.
Golden State decided to make both James Michael McAdoo and Ian Clark unrestricted free agents, but they have Early Bird rights on McAdoo, meaning they can go over the salary cap (and his minimum hold) for a contract could be worth as much as the estimated average player salary ($6.191 million for this season) that must run at least two seasons. The Warriors cannot do that for Clark because he only has one year with the team but can with veteran swingman Brandon Rush, who started part of last season while Barnes was hurt.
Signing both to the maximum allowable for the first season with a team-friendly non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed second season would give the Warriors two additional quality bench players on serious raises who are also potential contracts to trade by the February deadline or next summer if the right situation presents itself.
None of these options sound bad at all. In fact, the only negative things about the Warriors offseason are how it started (Game 7 … sorry for the reminder) and how everything that’s happened since June 19 seems too good to be true.