OAKLAND -- Barely 15 minutes after the trade deadline passed, Warriors general manager Bob Myers was lacing up his high-tops for some 3-on-3 hoops at the team’s downtown Oakland facility.
That’s not to suggest Myers and CEO Joe Lacob believe the team can’t be improved, and soon. They certainly do, and as Myers took the court his ear was still warm from a morning on the phone discussing possible moves.
But nothing developed that couldn’t be declined, and that’s mostly because potential trade partners were more interested in Warriors draft picks, in 2018 and beyond, than what is available on the far end of their bench.
The Warriors had two options. Option A would require moving the team’s only pick in the 2018 draft. Option B would be waiting to shop the buyout market.
Myers went with B, which under the circumstances make the most sense.
The Warriors have owned only two picks over the past five drafts -- though they bought two others -- and they’re unwilling to give up the first-round pick they hold for 2018. That will be only their third first-round pick since Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli arrived in 2012.
Why give that up when there is an excellent chance the Warriors can address their greatest need -- reliable scoring off the bench -- without jeopardizing their future finances?
Stephen Curry is in the first year of a five-year max contract worth $201 million. Kevin Durant awaits a similar deal in July. One year later, in July 2019, Klay Thompson becomes an unrestricted free agent. It’s Draymond Green’s turn in 2020. Assuming the Warriors want to have any chance of keeping their four All-Stars beyond 2018-19, as they surely do with the upcoming move to Chase Center, it’s going to be costly.
The Warriors are going to need some cheap labor, and that means rookie deals. The Warriors own their next seven first-round picks, but only one second-round pick over the next three seasons. They’re not currently assured both picks until 2021-22.
So now the Warriors will focus on the buyout market. There will be options, and veteran scorer Joe Johnson, traded to the Kings on Thursday, is expected to be among them.
Multiple league sources have said the Warriors are interested in Johnson, and it was been reported that Johnson, once bought out by Sacramento, would consider the Warriors.
Another player the Warriors would consider is Hawks guard Marco Belinelli, their first-round pick in 2007. Belinelli’s name came up in trade talks but he remains in Atlanta. There is a good chance he’ll be available on the buyout market.
A player’s contract must be bought out before March 1 for him to be eligible for the playoffs with his next team.