OAKLAND -- Of all the non-core Golden State Warriors players through their ongoing platinum years, nobody has stayed longer and advanced further than Kevon Looney.
He came almost as an afterthought with wonky hips, worked through the pain and the inactivity, and his reward entering his fourth NBA season is to be part of a three-headed center position until DeMarcus Cousins is activated. This doesn’t seem like much of a reward for any young and ambitious fellow, but the market does as the market will, and Looney, more than Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, understood that his future remains where his past has been.
“Free agency was new to me, and the market wasn’t really that good,” Looney, who signed a one-year, $1.567 million contract, said Monday at Warriors Media Day, “so me knowing that going into it, I just figured the Warriors offered me a contract, and I said, 'Why not stay and try to do it again?' "
As one of the three replacements for Zaza Pachulia, along with Jordan Bell and Damian Jones, Looney’s job as currently defined will be to meet matchup requirements both in-game and for extended stretches. But as the steadiest and most experienced of the three, Looney is on the cusp of making the transition to veteran and associate mentor to Bell and Jones.
“I think we all bring something to the table at the center position,” Looney said. “We all have different strengths. I know I’m a good rebounder, and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do.”
As for Bell, whose first season was more spectacular but more mercurial, he has received a fuller understanding of the demands placed on someone who previously has been there.
"I'm ready for a bigger role," he said. "I know the work I put in this summer, trying to get in better shape and not making as many mistakes as I did a year ago. I know a lot more about our team, and learning how to take things seriously. I know more about what to expect when we start practicing and the changes in my body."
As for how the new center position sorts itself out, Warriors coach Steve Kerr made one thing evident.
"The only thing I can tell you for sure is that Draymond Green will not be our starting center to start the season," he said. "It'll be Damian, Loon or Bell."
That's the window they've all waited for -- Looney more than them all.