SAN FRANCISCO -- Though Marquese Chriss said his goodbyes to the Warriors late Monday night, that does not necessarily mean there won’t be a second hello in the future.
The Warriors remain high on Chriss’ future and were, according to multiple league sources, seeking a way to retain him but were unable to create a spot by the Tuesday afternoon deadline. Furthermore, Chriss enjoyed his time with the team and has made it clear he is very open to returning.
There are barriers, though. Any chance for a reunion requires, first of all, that Chriss clear waivers. The 22-year-old big man showed signs of growth during his three months with the Warriors and other teams noticed. Second, the Warriors still would have to clear a roster spot.
Which they still are trying to do -- even as Damion Lee and Ky Bowman, guards playing under two-way contracts, inch closer to their 45-day NBA limit. The Warriors would like to retain both while also finding a way for Chriss to return.
“He’s a good, young talent,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Tuesday. “He’s developed. He’s got a fantastic attitude. He’s somebody we were all really hoping we could keep.
“But the rules stipulate that we had to shed money. And this was the end result. Everybody is disappointed -- players, coaches, front office. But this is how it worked.”
Losing Chriss, who had played in a team-high 37 games (out of 38), not only dramatically alters the team’s rotation of centers and power forwards but also serves as a reminder that the business side of the NBA can deny the desires of everyone involved.
“You build relationships with guys, and that part makes it tough,” Draymond Green said. “But also, that’s where the business sucks. That’s a guy who came into training camp and worked his way onto the team. Not only did he do that. He earned a spot. It’s unfortunate sometimes how the business side works out, where it was the kind of situation where that was the only option.”
Chriss joined the Warriors in late September after signing a non-guaranteed contract. The Warriors had until Jan. 7 to offer a fully guaranteed deal or waive Chriss. They were unable to create a spot on the roster to do so.
The Warriors have been in active trade discussions for several weeks and will continue to explore their options. Those most likely to be traded -- Alec Burks, Willie Cauley-Stein and Glenn Robinson III -- are veterans that would be swapped for future prospects, thereby creating a roster spot.
As of Monday night, there was no spot for Chriss. As of Tuesday afternoon, there was no spot for Lee, who was held out of practice to save one of his two remaining NBA days.
So, for now, the talks continue.
The desire to convert Lee to a standard NBA contract is the priority and could motivate to Warriors the trade a vet this week.
The hope to reunite with Chriss is dependent on several factors, but there is no question there is desire on both sides.