The Warriors don't need to use their $9.3 million disabled player exception by Cyber Monday, but they might have extra incentive if a guard well within their price range truly is available for trade.
"Many rival teams" expect the Los Angeles Clippers to trade three-time Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams "in their quest to create a fresh-start environment" following their playoff collapse last postseason, The New York Times' Marc Stein reported Tuesday in his "On Basketball" newsletter.
Williams, 34, has a year and $8 million remaining on his contract. With NBA training camps scheduled to begin Tuesday, the Clippers' time to trade Williams ahead of an abbreviated preseason is running out. The Warriors reportedly have until April 9 to use the exception, but Williams is a strong enough option to consider moving up the timeline.
The Warriors traded for Kelly Oubre Jr. in order to fill the void on the wing Klay Thompson left behind after sustaining a torn Achilles earlier this month. Oubre is confident he can replicate Thompson's two-way ability, but acquiring Williams would further enable the Warriors to replace the injured Splash Brother's offensive production with a "Strength in Numbers" approach.
Over the last three seasons with the Clippers, Williams averaged 20.4 points per game off the bench. While not as efficient of a scorer as Thompson, Williams knocked down 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers in LA and got to the free-throw line six times per game. Only 15 players exceeded the latter mark, and only 13 made a higher percentage of their free throws than Williams (87.4 percent).
Williams won't be mistaken for an All-NBA defender, and the 6-foot-1 guard's defensive fit alongside 6-foot-3 Steph Curry -- particularly in crunch time and in the playoffs -- is questionable, to say the least. The Warriors would also benefit from waiting to use the exception at the trade deadline in the buyout market, and they'd have more money to offer players in the latter case than many of their competitors. Plus, it's fair to wonder if the Clippers would trade within the division to a rival looking to knock them off their perch.
Those are all valid concerns, but the Warriors' leverage with the Clippers might not get better than it is right now.
LA's offseason moves point to valuing a fresh start. Ty Lue is now the Clippers' coach, Serge Ibaka replaced reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell -- who signed with the rival Lakers -- on the depth chart and guard Luke Kennard was acquired in a trade. If the Clippers intend to trade Williams, can they really say they've wiped the slate clean if he's with the team at the start of training camp, let alone the beginning of the regular season on Dec. 22?
Warriors general manager and president of Bob Myers remains close with Jerry West, who's now a consultant with the Clippers, and Golden State has its own first-round pick in 2021 (if it doesn't convey to the Thunder), '22 and '23. LA does not after acquiring Paul George last summer, and he could leave as a free agent after this season.
Replacing Thompson's on-court production is too tall a task for one player, but Williams is a capable scorer who can help the Warriors regain some of what was lost on offense. Relying on a combination of him, Oubre and returning small forward Andrew Wiggins would be a sensible approach for this season while maintaining flexibility down the line, as Williams and Oubre can become free agents in 2021.
If the Clippers really are intent on trading Williams, there's no time like the present for the Warriors to use their disabled player exception.