When the Warriors traded Andre Iguodala (plus a future first-round draft pick) to the Memphis Grizzlies last July, they acquired a $17.2 million traded player exception.
In a nutshell, that means they can acquire a player in a trade that makes up to that amount.
Should Golden State strike a deal with the San Antonio Spurs that would send Rudy Gay -- who has a salary cap hit of $14.5 million in 2020-21 -- to the Bay Area?
"Trading, say, Kevon Looney and a future second (round pick) for Gay would make the tax hit on the Warriors’ side less gargantuan and add a future pick for the next-gen Spurs," The Athletic's John Hollinger writes.
Coach Steve Kerr is a big believer in Looney, who is scheduled to make around $4.8 million next year. He wanted the 24-year-old to play around 30 minutes per game last season, but that plan got derailed because of myriad injuries.
Looney underwent surgery May 19 to repair a core muscle injury, and it's unclear if he ever will be the "foundational piece" he was during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. But it's possible that Golden State isn't willing to part ways with him yet, unless he's included in a trade that nets a superstar.
As for Gay, he averaged a career-low 10.0 points per game before the season was shut down in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. He shot just 31.4 percent from beyond the arc on 3.1 attempts per game.
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If the Warriors have him on a tentative list of potential targets this offseason, perhaps his play in the Orlando bubble will be the determining factor. Gay, who will turn 34 years old Aug. 17, might have an expanded role and a bigger opportunity with LaMarcus Aldridge sidelined.
But then again, coach Gregg Popovich recently said one of his main priorities is giving the Spurs' young players the opportunity to develop. Assuming that philosophy carries over into next season, it probably would be in everybody's best interest for the No. 8 overall pick in the 2006 draft to find a new home. If Gay ends up with the Dubs, he would be incentivized to perform at a high level because he will be a free agent again in 2021.
"Gay’s expiring contract gives Golden State an enduring form of trade currency that doesn’t expire until the trade deadline and can take back a contract worth up to $20 million," Hollinger added. "Thus, acquiring Gay doesn’t narrow the Warriors’ options, it actually expands them -- they can either ride out the season with Gay, or flip his expiring deal any time prior to the trade deadline."
One important caveat is Hollinger is assuming the Warriors make this move if the team decides Draymond Green's primary position is center, which would allow Gay to play alongside him at power forward. The plan still could be to have the three-time All-Star log most of his minutes at the four, but it's important to remember what Kerr told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami in March.
"I was always very careful over the last five, six years not to play him too many minutes at center. But I think the league has changed pretty dramatically, and I can see him playing more minutes at the five," he said. "I don't think there would be any problem with that.
"You still have to have a roster that allows you to deal with the big fives who are out there. And we absolutely will address that. But from one game to the next, Draymond is really not gonna have too much of a problem guarding the other teams fives because the big huge guys ... they're almost extinct."
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We know the Warriors want to add some veterans to the roster. But they might not want to acquire somebody like Gay if they believe Eric Paschall fully is ready for an expanded role.
Golden State's front office has a lot of decisions to make over the next couple of months, and it will be fascinating to watch it unfold.
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