Andre Iguodala’s Return Headlines Golden State Warriors Value-free Agency Signings

Yesterday, Andre Iguodala revealed in a New York Times interview that his return to the Golden State Warriors was a surprise but a delight for all. Although Iguodala is a little older and may only have a couple of years left in his career. He brings all the leadership and playoff experience that the Warriors sorely lack since then. Somehow Golden State feels like Golden State again.

Surprisingly, given the market price set for veteran wings, Iguodala has reportedly signed for the veteran minimum, making the move not only a great fit on the basketball court, but also the salary cap sheet. The signing was a sign of a strong free agency period that, although less public than some expected, allowed the Warriors to prioritize the things they need.

Curry-friendly pieces are what the Warriors prioritize.

They quickly signed Curry to a lengthy-term extension. They signed Curry to a long-term extension, which secured their core identity and gave them a good chance of title contention in the coming years. Indeed if there was one reminder from the Warriors disappointing 2020-21 season, it’s when they stripped down their rotation to pieces who can pass, move, hit an open shot, and be versatile on defense around MVP-level Curry they can win a lot of games.

However, the well-deserved and huge $215 million deal will mean they’ll have to deepen their luxury tax. That means to put those pieces around him they’ll need to double down on finding the bargains, while hoping their next generation, headlined by high lottery picks from the last two drafts in James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga, grow quickly enough to provide great value on their rookie-scale deals.

Finding veteran players that could win right now was the second priority. They are crucially able to provide that match around Curry or the Warriors’ system. Even though they missed out on many of their major targets, the Warriors have not done poorly here.

With his playmaking skills, defensive versatility and high basketball intelligence, Iguodala suits the Warriors perfectly. But they actually started at the end of last season, securing Juan Toscano-Anderson, who become a bona fide vital contributor, on the minimum for the upcoming season. Before the Warriors signed the Iguodala deal, they also secured the services Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bilica on the veteran minimum.

Nemanja Belica and Otto Porter Jr are perfect for the Warriors program

Otto Porter Jr could be an excellent signing. The Warriors are fortunate to have a 6-foot-8, wing player who can shoot 40% from 3. He is versatile on defense and has the ability to make open passes and pass the ball. The Warriors are fortunate to have landed the ideal role player in this young man, who is only 28 years of age.

Porter Jr. was not available for this price due to injury problems over the past few years. He’s only played 42 games over the past two seasons. After his first year with the Wizards where he played over 76 games per season, he was traded to Orlando, where he played only three games. Recurrent back problems are his most serious problem. However, that is not the only injury. The Chicago Bulls have been an unfavorable place to be in recent years. Porter Jr. could benefit from a resurgence in Warriors culture and system.

The reality of Porter Jr. might be a far cry from the fantasies. While the Warriors have to control his time and work load, they don’t require him to play more than 30 minutes every night. He’s a great fit for the Warriors and is definitely worth it.

Nemanja Bilica, on the other hand, gives them a big stretch with deep range. His last two seasons were spent largely with Sacramento Kings where he shot more than 40% from the three point line and displayed his clever passing skills. Although he may not have the same athleticism and versatility as a defenseman, he is still an option to a large rotation, especially when he plays alongside Draymond green and Kevon Looney who don’t space on the floor.

Subtraction by addition

Many players have left the Warriors as well. Kelly Oubre, who signed with Charlotte Hornets was the most prominent. The Warriors didn’t manage to get anything back in a sign-and-trade, but given their luxury tax situation that was always a pipedream. After a second disappointing season, Eric Paschall was traded to Utah. Alen Smailagic was also released after an unsuccessful experiment.

The Warriors should be better because of all three subtractions. Oubre, a skilled player, was not a good fit for Steve Kerr’s system. His absence at the conclusion of the season allowed the Warriors to create an identity. Paschall was unable to find a position and his inability to play with defensive intensity stood out. Smailagic was a wasted roster spot that lasted only two seasons.

Three spots have been given to players that fit the Warriors’ expectations. There are 14 players on the roster that could be a part of the Warriors’ next season.

Is it over for the Warriors?

Kent Bazemore joining the Lakers, despite being offered a more lucrative contract by the Warriors was the only loss. They are now left with some time before Klay Thompson comes back, but likely beyond that as he will need to make his way back in. They currently have Jordan Poole and Damion Lee behind Curry.

Warriors will likely open up roster spots by waiving Gary Payton III and Mychal Mulder’s non-guaranteed contracts. Avery Bradley is a potential candidate for the final roster spot. He could be a player who the Warriors can use as backcourt depth, while Thompson is unavailable. Bradley would also be a good option because he’s a guard with a high level of ball-hawking and who can play the open three. JJ Redick could also be an option, which would provide them with another shooter of high quality to disrupt their screening process for Curry.

The Warriors’ big-man rotation is still very light with the exception of Looney (an injury-prone player) and Bjelica. Green will be moving to the middle position when it is important. They might get away with this grouping but could do without another large body. Marquese Chriss should be a watchful name.

Limitations on salary caps apply

Their taxpayer mid-level exception is also sitting there unutilized. The repeater tax would mean that their tax bill and salary could be increased by around $40m. It seems unlikely that they’ll do anything about it, particularly after they secured the value players. However, it could be useful on the buyout markets at the trade deadline so this might not be the last time it is mentioned.

The repeater tax penalty on veteran minimum contracts is significant, however. The Warriors project that they will be earning between $35 and $40 million more than the luxury threshold. Each dollar of income is subject to an additional 6.25 tax penalty. The $1.67m tax cap on a veteran minimum contract is almost $8m, with just more than $10m total. The extra signing cost will be weighed against the potential for additional sign-ups.

The Warriors plan for an accelerated development

If the Warriors don’t make any further moves, that throws the spotlight back on their new generation. Wiseman, with his shorter big-man rotation, will have a larger role than many people anticipate. Moody will be playing an important role due to the absence of backcourt depth. Kuminga’s summer league performance suggests that he may still be a rookie, but his physicality and aggression should allow him to have an immediate impact. Porter Jr may not be able to participate in every game. The Warriors will keep Iguodala off the regular season. It will help them speed up their development and bridge the time gap between their veterans and the younger players.

The Warriors have invested in their development staff to help this journey too, but this is an area where bringing in Iguodala could pay major dividends. He’s long been one of the NBA’s best veteran leaders on and off the court. Iguodala already spoke to the New York Times about bringing the Miami Heat’s experience as well as their “militaristic” Navy seal approach to help the rookies. Kuminga, Moody will not have a better player in their first careers.

Are the Warriors able to fuse their timelines together?

Although the Warriors had difficulty combining their timelines last season, the Warriors should have less trouble in this regular season with their enhanced roles for younger players. The Warriors will be much better with Thompson returning and the added veteran depth. The 2020-21 regular season saw a deeper team, which will likely be in contention to win a playoff spot and possibly even homecourt advantage.

The Warriors hope Thompson will be back to his former self by the playoffs, so they have the ability to increase Iguodala’s minutes where it is most important. They’ll have the ability to put together a throwback lineup of Thompson, Curry, Iguodala Green, and Looney, who has been a tough opponent in playoffs. They can also get help from Andrew Wiggins and Toscano–Anderson, Poole and Porter Jr.

The Warriors have finally returned to the forefront of basketball after years of being absent.

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