Nick Young

Warriors brief: Game 4 of the NBA Finals may be last time fans see favorite role players

Warriors brief: Game 4 of the NBA Finals may be last time fans see favorite role players

You never want to expect a championship, but now that the Warriors have taken a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals, it is hard to fathom them blowing a historically unbeaten lead. But if Friday's Game 4 is the final game of the series, it also may be the last time that Warriors fans may see some of their favorite role players in Warriors uniforms. 

By the Warriors' historic standards, the 2017-18 season was their version of tumultuous. They dealt with a rash of injuries, some inconsistent play, and overall apathy. The fire and desire to take on a challenging, long regular season was lacking, though justifiably. In order to bring a new fresh energy to the team next year, many expect the Warriors to do an overhaul of their bench. Here is how the roster may play out next season:

Under contract and not going anywhere:
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, Damian Jones, Quinn Cook

Not much needs to be said regarding Curry, Thompson and Draymond. They will be with the Warriors next season and contract extensions will be discussed for the latter two. Iguodala and Livingston are under contract and are still valuable to the Warriors both on the court and in the locker room. Any attempts to trade or dump their contracts most likely would only be a realistic option following next season. Jordan Bell and Damian Jones are expected to have much bigger roles next season, bringing a youthful energy and athleticism into the lineup. Quinn Cook will serve as Steph Curry's primary backup and fill a need off the bench that was lacking a majority of this season.

Free agents but expected to re-sign:
Kevin Durant, Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney

Durant is not leaving the Warriors. You can ignore the hot takes that are floating around the news recently. He is very happy with the team and has no intentions on leaving. McCaw is a restricted free agent, and many thought that he would play so well that he would out-price himself from the Warriors' plans to match any offer made to him. Unfortunately, inconsistency and injuries ruined McCaw's season. It is very likely he does not receive an offer big enough that the Warriors would not match. The team before this season did not exercise Looney's option for next season, so therefore he will be an unrestricted free agent. Looney has had an unexpected large role with the team this year, playing the role of the finesse big man that could use his length and agility to switch and defend smaller wings and guards. What hurts Looney's potential pay day this offseason are question marks regarding his fit with other teams that aren't nearly as talented as the Warriors to make up for his shortcomings, and the fact there is significantly less salary cap space to go around this offseason. The Warriors can give Looney up to $2.2 million for next season, and while he may be able to land a little more money, it is doubtful he will find a team that will utilize him as much as his current squad. 

Veterans that are unlikely to return:
Nick Young, Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee

Warriors fans might be seeing these three for the last time in their home team's jerseys on Friday. Young never found the consistency with the Warriors and never fit into the role that the team had envisioned before the season. It is likely they use the money spent on Young to find a more athletic wing next season. Zaza Pachulia has fallen out of the rotation and probably will not return with the team, despite how well-liked he is. Perhaps he will eventually fit as a coach some day. McGee is the one that could possibly return, but it is still unlikely. He has played a role off and on these playoffs and throughout the season, and if he were willing to come back on the minimum again, perhaps the Warriors would be intrigued. But like last offseason, McGee searched for better offers only to finally land back with the Warriors. It is hard to see that situation panning out the same way again. 

Up to him:
David West

While West's role has diminished considerably these playoffs, he was perhaps the Warriors' fifth most important player the first half of the season. The Warriors would probably welcome back West's leadership and consistent play if he were willing to take the vet minimum again, though many believe the Warriors might seek a youth movement instead. As it stands, West is deciding between retiring and playing another season for the Warriors. He is very unlikely to sign elsewhere.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 124, Cavs 114 (OT)
Game 2 Warriors 122, Cavs 103
Game 3 Warriors 110, Cavs 102
Game 4 Cleveland -- Friday, June 8 at 6pm
Game 5 Oakland -- Monday, June 11 at 6pm
Game 6 Cleveland -- Thursday, June 14 at 6pm
Game 7 Oakland -- Sunday, June 17 at 5pm

Biggest play from Game 7 vs Rockets? Steve Kerr's answer may surprise you

Biggest play from Game 7 vs Rockets? Steve Kerr's answer may surprise you

With 9:31 left in the third quarter of Game 7 in Houston, Klay Thompson picked up his fourth foul.

About a minute later, Nick Young checked in for Klay with the Warriors trailing by eight.

On Wednesday, Damon Bruce of 95.7 The Game asked Steve Kerr what he felt was the biggest play of the game.

[LISTEN: Warriors Outsiders Podcast: NBA Finals preview; series/MVP predictions; Zaza to start?]

"The play that jumps out for me is Nick Young's 3," Kerr answered. "We're creeping back into it, I think it's like an eight-point game, mid third, and Klay has picked up his fourth foul. We're kind of in some trouble but we're trying to hang in there.

"And then Nick hits the transition three ... from that moment, it just felt like 'OK, we're right there.' And we just need the typical Steph Curry flurry, and then that's what came next. And that's when we took over the game.

"I thought Nick's 3 was a big deal."

With 7:48 left in the third, Young drilled a left corner 3 in transition to make it 58-53.

It was Young's only shot attempt over 17 minutes of action.

"It's been an up-and-down year for him, but he fulfilled his role in that Rockets series and we needed him big time," Kerr said. "Nick really came through."

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

A big opportunity awaits Swaggy P in Game 4 and potentially beyond

A big opportunity awaits Swaggy P in Game 4 and potentially beyond

OAKLAND -- When the Warriors signed Nick Young to a contract worth $5.2 million last July, it wasn’t so he could hitchhike to the playoffs. For much of this season, with the veteran shooter trudging through limited minutes, that’s how it has looked.

On Tuesday night, and perhaps beyond, Young will have a chance to give the Warriors a more substantial return on their investment. Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals looms and if Andre Iguodala is unavailable, there will be an opportunity for Young.

Suddenly, Nick Young, aka Swaggy P, often the butt of jokes and a frequent source of comic relief among his teammates, is needed in a serious role.

He already has a running start, averaging 16.7 minutes through the first three games. In the two previous playoff series, against the Spurs and the Pelicans, averaged 7.1 minutes per game.

Coach Steve Kerr said prior to Game 1 last week that Young could play a bigger role against the Rockets. That was a statement of trust in the former Laker, and Young has not disappointed. To the contrary, he had done an admirable job on the perimeter defending either James Harden or Chris Paul.

“He’s been great this series, guarding James, guarding Chris Paul, whoever he’s on,” Klay Thompson said Monday after practice. “He’s stayed disciplined, stayed in front of them. And as happy-go-lucky as Swaggy is, he’s also a competitor.”

Young’s defense, though nowhere near Iguodala’s level, has been solid against Houston. The team’s rating is a relatively 99.5 in Young’s 50 minutes on the floor.

“Luke Walton said he was the best defender on the Lakers when he was coaching him,” Thompson said, “even though Luke at the time said that wasn’t that big of an accomplishment.

“I didn’t know he moved his feet that well. But he’s definitely shown his value this series and why we brought him on, just because he stretches the floor and he’s a stalwart on defense.”

Absorb those last nine words for a moment. “Stretches the floor and he’s a stalwart on defense.” That may be the first time Nick Young has ever been described as a “stalwart” on defense. In this series, though, it’s hard to argue against it.

Still, Young’s greatest asset is on offense, where he does nothing better than stretch the floor with an extremely willing and very able three-point shot. Whereas opponents routinely sag off Iguodala, inviting him to shoot from deep, no team is foolish enough to take that risk with Young.

And that’s where he can burn the Rockets while also creating a little more room for deep-shooting teammates Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Thompson.

That ability, along with Young’s more reliable defense, is why he would be considered to start Game 4 in the absence of Iguodala, who is listed as doubtful with soreness in his left knee.

Kerr could go with Kevon Looney at center, sliding Draymond Green back to power forward and Durant back to small forward, with Curry and Thompson as the guards, with Young coming off the bench.

Or the coach could stay with Green at center, with Durant at power forward and Young moving into the small forward spot for Iguodala.

Young has not exactly been a terrific addition. His offensive production has been mostly hit-and-miss, and he usually has been a step slow on defense. His regular season was decidedly low-impact.

If he’s able to make a positive impact now, when it matters most, CEO Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers will feel a whole lot better about having signed Young.

Whether he starts or not, the opportunity will be there. And if Iguodala misses a game or more, the Warriors will be begging for Young to make the most of it.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm