With the first major wave of free agency now behind them, the Warriors' current roster will look very similar to the one they open the 2020-21 season with.
Of the Warriors' 15 available roster spots, at least 13 already are spoken for, and they have a few candidates for their two two-way contracts. Barring a trade of some kind, Golden State likely would only add two more players at most, with one seeming like a far more probable outcome.
If the Warriors do add any more players in free agency, it will be done using one of three possible methods. They can sign someone to a minimum contract, use the remainder of the mid-level exception (MLE) or they can use the disable player exception (DPE) they applied for in the wake of Klay Thompson's season-ending Achilles injury.
The Warriors very well might walk through Door No. 3. But if they do, there's no guarantee it'll be any time soon. In fact, there could be an advantage to saving the DPE for a later date.
With the DPE, the Warriors can sign a player to a one-year contract worth up to $9.3 million, or they can acquire a player in a trade who has one year remaining on his contract and a salary equal to or less than that amount. In surveying the current free-agent landscape, there isn't an obvious candidate who qualifies. And of the qualifying players who they might want to trade for, some more shoes seemingly would have to drop before they become available.
That's bound to change, though.
As the season progresses, some teams inevitably will experience upheaval, and some quality players could become available via trade as a result. Take the Houston Rockets, for instance. It's unlikely they would make P.J. Tucker available to the Warriors right now, but if they eventually blow the team up as has been rumored, suddenly that could change. Tucker is the kind of talent the Warriors would be willing to use the DPE for, and he just so happens to qualify from a salary standpoint.
And then there are the additional free agents that might emerge throughout the course of the season. Every year, we see several veterans bought out by their incumbent teams ahead of the playoff push, at which point they become available to the rest of the league. Often times, they're difference-makers looking for a chance to contend for a championship. We can't say for sure if the Warriors will be true NBA title contenders this upcoming season, but with the DPE, we can guarantee that they'd be able to offer any of those free agents a superior contract than most other teams.
There's another main reason why the Warriors might want to hang on to the DPE, and it has nothing to do with any free agent or any other team. There are a few sure-things on Golden State's roster, but there are numerous question marks, too. If it turns out that the Warriors are short at a particular position, whether due to performance or injury, the DPE could come in handy when finding a potential fix.
As things currently stand, the Warriors seem to be at least one piece away, and they certainly could acquire it with the DPE. But rather than rush and use it to upgrade the roster now, Golden State might be better off waiting until a worthwhile opportunity presents itself.