Should Warriors acquire Spurs' Rudy Gay with $17.2M trade exception?

Should Warriors acquire Spurs' Rudy Gay with $17.2M trade exception?

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."

[RELATED: Draymond says new co-host Barkley 'not a friend of mine']

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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Warriors' Draymond Green reveals two 'sleeper' teams in Orlando bubble

Warriors' Draymond Green reveals two 'sleeper' teams in Orlando bubble

Who is going to reach the 2020 NBA Finals?

The majority of the basketball world believes the LA Clippers or Los Angeles Lakers will advance from the Western Conference, and either the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors will punch the Eastern Conference's ticket.

Is there a "sleeper" in the West who could shock everybody? According to Warriors forward Draymond Green, that team is the Houston Rockets.

"They got Russ (Russell Westbrook), they got James (Harden) -- who obviously can both go for 40 or 50 on any given night," he said on "The Steam Room" podcast. "They got a bunch of shooters and they're going to create proglems for people, because they're playing this switching defense.

"And the first thing that people try to do -- we saw it the other day -- you try to pound the ball inside. You're not just gonna run James Harden over on the post. You're not just gonna run P.J. Tucker over. A lot of teams will make that mistake and Houston can be really sneaky."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

And the Miami Heat are Draymond's sleeper pick in the East.

"They play really hard, they got guys that are tied together," the three-time NBA champion explained. "They got my guy Andre (Iguodala), who we know during the Finals and playoffs is great. The only thing with the Heat is they struggle at times to find consistent scoring.

"But they got a lot of talent, a lot of pieces."

[RELATED: Why Draymond is 'strongly against' a second NBA bubble]

Yours truly wouldn't be shocked at all if the Rockets reach the NBA Finals, but would be stunned if the Heat get that far. 

But ultimately, anything can happen when there is no homecourt advantage.

The playoffs are going to be a blast.

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Warriors' Draymond Green explains why he doesn't miss basketball now

Warriors' Draymond Green explains why he doesn't miss basketball now

Draymond Green last played in an NBA game Feb. 27. And he was on the court only for 10 minutes because he was ejected in the second quarter.

The Warriors forward last played at least 30 minutes in a game on Feb. 12, which was Golden State's final game before the All-Star break.

As you know, the Dubs are not playing in the Orlando bubble. And it's highly unlikely they participate either in a second bubble in Chicago or in a team minicamp at Chase Center.

So what has it been like for Draymond with nothing to do basketball wise?

"Honestly, it's been great," he told Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson on "The Steam Room" podcast. "I've had a lot of fun spending time with my family. I've gotten to know my fiancée better. I've gotten to know my kids better. That's been amazing.

"From a basketball standpoint -- I gotta be honest with you -- I don't necessarily miss playing basketball, because it's been such a long run that my body could use the break.

"But what I miss is competing at the highest level. The playoff basketball, playing in the Finals -- I miss that. Being able to compete at the highest level against the best players in the world."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

You can't blame the three-time NBA champion for wanting an extended breather. From 2015 to 2019, he suited up for 104 of the Warriors' 105 playoff games (he was suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals), averaging 37.7 minutes per night.

Draymond has dealt with various ailments over the last couple of years, and needed to refresh his body and mind. He knows the Dubs still are months away from reconvening, and starting the quest to climb back to the top of the mountain.

[RELATED: Why Draymond is 'strongly against' a second NBA bubble]

But don't get it twisted. The 30-year-old is extremely motivated to be an All-Star again, and would love nothing more than to capture a fourth Larry O'Brien Trophy.

"When you go to the Finals, everybody is watching -- including the best basketball players in the world that (are not) in that game," he said. "That's always the most fun time to me, and I miss that."

If Draymond delivers on his personal goals, the Warriors just might get back to basketball's biggest stage in 2021.

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