Holding onto a single roster vacancy all season, the Warriors came away from the NBA buyout market with empty hands, which might not be as bad as it seems.
They have someone on the roster who might be able to fill that final roster spot.
Damion Lee, the two-way wing familiar to many fans through being Stephen Curry’s brother-in-law, is making a bid. His performance Saturday can only help.
Playing 26 minutes off the bench, Lee scored 12 points, draining four 3-pointers in five attempts. His plus-13 finish in a 120-117 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers was the best among all Warriors.
Not bad for a guy who has spent most of the season with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors.
“He has confidence, he’s been playing amazing down in Santa Cruz,” Curry told reporters at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Saturday. “It’s just a matter of him getting that opportunity. And tonight, or nights like tonight, he took full advantage of it. It was fun to watch, fun to see. I’m sure more of that to come.”
Lee’s performance was as timely as it was vital. With starting shooting guard Klay Thompson out of the lineup, the Warriors needed a third perimeter threat to go along with Kevin Durant and Curry.
Alfonzo McKinnie, who assumed Thompson’s spot in the starting lineup, was pulled early and did not play in the second half, when the Warriors began the comeback that earned the win.
Lee, 26, started the third quarter and scored nine points on three triples as the Warriors outscored Philly 38-23.
“That’s what they brought me here for, my shooting ability, being able to space the floor,” Lee told KGO-TV after the game. “I’m long, athletic and (able to) play defense.”
In scanning the market to fill the final roster spot, the Warriors have expressed a preference for two types of players: A big man, capable of defending the paint behind DeMarcus Cousins, and a wing capable of scoring.
At 6-foot-6, Lee is the latter. The husband of the former Sydel Curry spent his first three collegiate seasons at Drexel in Philadelphia before transferring to Louisville for his senior season.
“I think he went to the (Drexel) gym to watch their game this afternoon, watch a little bit of it and got some feel-goods,” Curry said. “Took his wife over there, see where he came from and showed out on the court tonight with the opportunity to help us win.”
The Warriors need a reserve that can score. Lee did it in a high-profile game. Put his résumé at the top of the stack.