Warriors

Ranking Warriors' priorities of re-signing free agents

Warriors

The Warriors' main objective going in this offseason is crystal clear. They want to retain as much of their championship roster as possible. 

Golden State has nine players on its roster that the Warriors could lose this offseason one way or another. Who sits atop that big board? 

Let's rank the Warriors' to-do list by tiers going into a critical offseason after winning their fourth title in the last eight seasons. 

Tier 1: Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II

Everything begins with Looney. The Warriors once declined Looney's fourth-year option as the former first-round pick struggled to stay on the court. Now, he's an irreplaceable player with three rings to his name at 26 years old. 

Looney was the lone Warrior to play in all 82 games in the regular season. He finished at 104, including the playoffs. 

"He's a championship center, modern-day defender, switch defender, which is what it takes in the playoffs," Steve Kerr recently said of Looney.

During the Warriors' race to their latest ring, Looney showed he can make an impact with multiple lineups as a starter or coming off the bench. Outside of 21-year-old James Wiseman, who has played 41 games of basketball since Nov. 5, 2019, the Warriors don't have a true center on the roster. Looney knows the system down to its smallest details and is the perfect mentor to groom Wiseman while keeping the chemistry alive on a championship team. 

Payton seems to have finally found his home here in the Bay Area. In this case, it feels like both sides -- player and team -- make each other better. 

 

The 29-year-old isn't a true point guard. He has eased most shooting concerns but is never going to be seen as a sharpshooter. On defense, he can guard multiple positions and the other team's best scorer or ballhandler. On offense, he's the dunker and slasher -- one who maybe stands 6-foot-3. 

The Warriors own Payton's Bird Rights. This time, he isn't going to have to be waiting until the last day to find out if he made a roster. It should be with the Warriors, too. 

If the Warriors bring back Looney and Payton, that will be a win alone for them. All signs point to that most likely happening, which makes perfect sense for all parties. 

Tier 2: Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica

Porter played 68 regular-season games, his most since 2017-18. Along the way, he became the Warriors' Plus-Minus King. He led all Warriors with a 12.4 net rating in the playoffs. He shot 37 percent from 3-point range and 40.4 percent in the playoffs. 

And he's most likely not coming back to the Warriors. 

The Warriors own Porter's non-Bird rights. His ninth season and first championship likely made him too expensive for the Warriors. In the case that Porter's time with the Warriors is done, he will be missed. 

Bjelica is five years older than Porter. The veteran big man's market isn't expected to be as lively as Porter's, which should help him return to the reigning champions. The 34-year-old gives the Warriors size at 6-foot-10, is a floor spacer who shot 36.2 percent from deep and is respected around the locker room. 

It doesn't hurt that he locked up Jayson Tatum in the NBA Finals, too. 

Tier 3: Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee

The San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau reported Monday that Toscano-Anderson, who is a restricted free agent, is expected to receive a qualifying offer worth $2.1 million on Wednesday. Toscano-Anderson is a defensive-minded guard/small forward who is 6-foot-6 and can play some point guard. 

But he shot 32.2 percent from long distance last season. Toscano-Anderson's outside options might not be aplenty, and a reunion could be in store with the Oakland native. 

Among Warriors free agents who were on guaranteed deals last season, Lee will wait the longest. He's a viable NBA player who clearly is above the G League. Lee also can be quite inconsistent at times and had a tough showing in the playoffs. 

His free agency could take a bit to be finalized. If there's enough space, he should stay in the Bay. If it comes down to numbers, Lee might be on the move. 

Tier 4: Quinndary Weatherspoon, Chris Chiozza

The Warriors' two-way players from last season find themselves in different places. With the Warriors' drafting of guard Ryan Rollins, plus undrafted Memphis guard Lester Quinones committing to one of Golden State's two two-way contracts, Chiozza's days as a Warrior most likely have come to an end.

 

Weatherspoon's outlook is much brighter. 

RELATED: Kerr dazzled by Rollins workout amid Warriors' Finals run

He's a bouncy athlete who plays strong defense, looks the part of an NBA player when given an opportunity and averaged 25.3 points in the G League for the Santa Cruz Warriors. He should have the inside track to a roster spot, and the Warriors should hope he's available for their second two-way contract. 

Wild-Card Tier: Andre Iguodala

Will he or won't he? For Iguodala, that question comes down to retirement or extending his career. If he decides he wants to keep playing, the Warriors will make sure it's with them. 

"I would love to have him back on the roster if it works out -- and I know [general manager Bob Myers] feels the same way -- and things have to fall into place," Kerr said of Iguodala. "Andre and I have talked, and we're going to connect here in the next couple of weeks as he kind of sorts through his decision. It's never an easy thing to retire and walk away from a game that you love, from people that you love, so it's a really big decision for him.

"As I said, if he decides to come back we'd be thrilled, because he means so much to us in so many different ways."

Iguodala, who turns 39 next January, was limited to just 31 regular-season games and only appeared in seven of the Warriors' 22 playoff games. He would be a more enhanced version of what Udonis Haslem is to the Miami Heat if he wears a Warriors jersey again. His voice holds as much weight as anyone, and it would be welcomed back.

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