Warriors

Warriors

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game during the season. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

With the NBA free agency circus starting Sunday, the Warriors' front office is on the precipice of a pivotal moment. After building a historically great team over the last five years, Bob Myers and Rick Welts now face their greatest challenge yet, albeit with freshly signed contract extensions in their hands.

They must try to retain their future (injured) greatness while simultaneously construct a competitive team with extremely limited space and resources.

All NBA teams have 15 roster spots and two spots for two-way players. If the Warriors can bring back Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, they would take up two of those spots while potentially not being able to play for the whole season because of their respective injuries. For a team trying to stay relevant during their first season in their new arena, having two unplayable roster spots could be quite problematic when preaching "Strength in Numbers."

Also, if the Warriors were to apply for a disabled player exception -- which is expected to be around $9 million -- it would count as one of the 13 remaining spots and probably cost the team upwards of $50 million when luxury taxes are added. Because of that exorbitant amount of money, it's likely the Warriors only will apply for the exception if they have a much desired free agent in mind.

 

With so many variables accounted for, let's look at what an ideal, albeit realistic, Warriors roster under coach Steve Kerr could look like next season.

Answering KD and Klay question

This is quite obvious, but an ideal Warriors offseason has to start with them re-signing both of their injured stars. All reports point to the Warriors offering both players max contracts, so it's up to Durant and Thompson to decide where they want to play.

Klay has made it clear for a long time that he'll return if he's offered the max -- and he'll reportedly receive that -- so the question mark remains to be Durant. Every day, a new rumor surfaces about where Durant ultimately will sign, but within the next week, this saga will conclude, and the Warriors finally will know what their future entails.

The starting five

Stephen Curry
Draymond Green
Andre Iguodala
Damian Jones
JJ Redick, Wes Matthews or Austin Rivers

Who starts alongside Curry and Green will be the biggest question mark heading into the season. With Iguodala under contract for another year, it's likely he'll find himself back in a starting role. Kerr used Jones as his starting center last season, so he'll probably also give him the first shot next season. That would leave one spot for the Warriors to add a scoring threat who can provide some needed offense to a team that will be missing Klay and KD.

Whether using the mid-level exception or the disabled player exception, the Warriors will try to acquire such a player, and three fits come to mind. Redick, even at an older age, can shoot lights out from 3-point range, Matthews started looking like his former self last season after sustaining a devastating injury a couple years ago. Rivers, an enigmatic guard/wing, considerably has improved his game over the last few seasons.

The bench

Kevon Looney
Re-signing Looney is priority No. 3 after Klay and KD. He has proven to be a "foundational piece" and shown consistent growth in his game. The Warriors are determined to at least match or exceed any offer Looney receives in the open market in order to retain him.

JaMychal Green or Darius Miller
Green impressed with the Clippers in their first-round playoff series against the Warriors. He has good size and athleticism to play solid defense, and he dramatically improved his outside shooting to become a threat from deep. Miller is a quintessential floor-spacer who provides great 3-point shooting.

Alfonzo McKinnie
After bursting on the scene for the Warriors, McKinnie regressed a little throughout the season, particularly on his 3-point shot. But his rebounding, athleticism and minimum contract make him valuable to this team, and there's still room for him to become a better player.

 

Pick two between Jordan Bell, Quinn Cook or Damion Lee
It would be surprising if the Warriors didn't extend qualifying offers to all three in order to make them restricted free agents. But with a roster in flux, it might be hard to keep all of them. Because of that, it's possible the Warriors can keep just two.

It would be a disappointing end between Bell and the Warriors if they were to go separate ways after such a promising start, but there's still so much room for growth in his game, and the team finally might have playing time available for him this season.

Both Cook and Lee, while playing different positions, bring badly needed 3-point shooting. Cook is more of a seasoned playmaker, but Lee is a longer and better defender. It would be hard for the Warriors to retain both should they decide to try to acquire more outside talent.

Jacob Evans III, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall
The Warriors need to see what they have in all three of these young players. The team is transitioning Evans into a point guard role, hoping to recreate a younger, cheaper version of Shaun Livingston. Rookies Poole and Paschall will have to impress in the summer and training camp to earn spots in the rotation right off the bat.

Alen Smailagic and Marcus Derrickson or Ky Bowman
All three players would be on two-way contracts and might fill gaps as needed.

The Warriors are extremely high on teenager Smailagic, trading up to draft him in the second round, but he needs a lot more seasoning, so it seems he'll be destined to play much of the season in the G League. Derrickson was on a two-way contract last season, and has shown some great outside shooting for a big man, but he still has room to grow, especially defensively. Bowman is an undrafted rookie the Warriors are intrigued by, as he's an aggressive scoring guard who can provide some athleticism to the backcourt.