Why Warriors should pursue Marc Gasol at beginning of NBA free agency

Why Warriors should pursue Marc Gasol at beginning of NBA free agency

What will be an abnormally long offseason for the Warriors officially has begun. Their 2019-20 season is over, and the next one isn't expected to begin until December at the earliest.

It's a critical offseason for Golden State, as the team hopes to establish the 2019-20 campaign as an outlier. There will be a series of important events the Warriors must capitalize on to get back to championship contention, including a potentially extended mini-camp, the 2020 NBA Draft and free agency.

The draft will be held on Oct. 15, though Golden State will learn where exactly its first-round selection falls when the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery is held in late August. Three days after the draft, free agency will begin.

The Warriors theoretically have the ability to add multiple standout performers this offseason, but their best avenues to do so likely will be through the draft and trades. When it comes to free agency, they'll be financially limited. 

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins will count for approximately $130 million against the salary cap next season. Though the cap was once projected to be around $115 million, it's expected to be significantly reduced as a result of the lost revenue due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. So, Golden State is all but certain to be a tax-paying team.

As such, the Warriors will have the taxpayer mid-level exception -- worth approximately $6 million -- at their disposal. Typically, that wouldn't be enough to attract a high-quality free agent, but the unusual circumstances of the offseason could result in some surprising developments. There are very few teams with ample cap space, meaning many free agents likely will have to sign for less money than they would have, say, a year ago.

Since Joe Lacob and Peter bought the team in 2012, the Warriors have never been shy about pursuing big names. Bleacher Report's Dan Favale has identified ambitious free-agent targets for all 30 NBA teams, and his recommendation for the Warriors -- Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol -- would continue that pattern.

"Marc Gasol is a when-in-Rome target for the Golden State Warriors," Favale wrote. "They're better off investing in their wing rotation, but if they can get him for the mini mid-level exception, why not? Their center rotation has room."

With the Warriors preferring to limit Green's center minutes, Kevon Looney's health concerns and Marquese Chriss still being somewhat unestablished, Favale argues Gasol would be an ideal option to pair with Golden State's incumbent big men. He is far larger than each of them, an above-average two-way player and would add even more championship experience to the squad. At the time the current season was paused, Gasol was averaging 7.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for the Raptors on 41.9 percent shooting from the field and an impressive 40.2 percent shooting from 3-point range.

It isn't difficult to envision how he would fit into the Warriors' offense.

[RELATED: Report: Warriors haven't met with top prospect Edwards yet]

Signing him, however, likely will prove to be far more challenging. Gasol likely will be in high demand this offseason, given both his reputation and the free-agency landscape. While he might view the Warriors as contenders, there are several other teams who might qualify for that category who potentially offer him a better contract. That includes the Raptors, who he won a title with -- against the Warriors -- just over one year ago.

That said, Gasol should be one of the Warriors' first calls as soon as free agency opens. As Favale wrote, "it never hurts to ask."

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Warriors' tough year had silver lining, ex-assistant Luke Walton says

Warriors' tough year had silver lining, ex-assistant Luke Walton says

The Warriors had a much bigger number in the loss column this season than former assistant Luke Walton is used to seeing.

Golden State lost 37 combined regular-season and playoff games when Walton, now the Kings' head coach, was on Steve Kerr's staff from 2014 through 2016. The Warriors lost 50 this season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012 as Klay Thompson rehabbed his torn ACL and Steph Curry missed all but five games with a broken hand.

Walton doesn't envision a repeat during the 2020-21 season, whenever it begins.

“I think having this unforced year off for them was probably good for them,” Walton said of the Warriors on the latest episode of the "Purple Talk" podcast. “You go to The Finals two straight times, three straight times, mentally and physically, it’s like impossible. They went five straight times.

"Big picture, it’s probably good that all of this happened at one time together so they can sit out.”

[PURPLE TALK PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Walton had a courtside seat for two of those runs before becoming the Los Angeles Lakers' head coach, and the Warriors played over half a season's worth of additional games -- 46, to be exact -- in those two postseasons alone. That number ballooned to 106 after Golden State lost to the Toronto Raptors in last year's NBA Finals.

Thompson (490), Green (476) and Curry (451) ranked first, second and fifth, respectively, in the NBA in total games played during the Warriors' dynastic run. Throw in USA Basketball trips for all three players, and that's a grind like few of their peers experienced.

A step back during the season was one thing, but a prolonged offseason might be another. Kerr and Green admitted earlier this week they feel like they're missing out by not being in the NBA bubble, as the Kings currently are in pursuit of a playoff spot. The Warriors haven't played since March, and they won't play in another competitive NBA game any sooner than December with the league's calendar upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: Kerr goes to bat for Wiggins, calls him 'a damn good player']

Whenever the next season does start, Walton believes the Warriors will have no trouble returning to the rarefied air to which they've become so accustomed.

“Steve will have them ready to go,” Walton added. “I think knowing their players, they’ll be juiced and excited to show the world what they still have and they’ll probably add a pretty good draft pick in there as well.”

Who should Warriors try to acquire with massive $17.2M trade exception?

Who should Warriors try to acquire with massive $17.2M trade exception?

Some of the best and --- let's be honest -- worst conversations regarding the Warriors take place on social media. 

Strong voices and opinions of Dub Nation defend or criticize their squad, not afraid to share their thoughts with absolute authority. Many of these personalities live on Twitter, where everyone can be a general manager, coach, critic, troll and/or hot-taker. 
In our Warriors Twitter Roundtable, we will share a five-part series of questions designed to touch on the major conversations floating around the Warriors Twitter world. Answering the questions will be a panel of some of the more prominent and revered voices within the community.
Part 1 had our panel name the five best players in the NBA, while Part 2 answered whether or not the Warriors should be considered contenders right now. Part 3 asked the panel to identify their ideal candidate to be acquired on the mid-level exception.

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

Here is Part 4:

Who is your ideal (and reasonably realistic) addition for the Warriors with the trade exception?
@poormanscommish: I’m going to borrow my esteemed NBA journalists’ ideas again and go for broke on their suggestion of enticing the Minnesota Timberwolves to get James Johnson off their books (using said TPE), then flipping him and the Warriors’ 2021 first-round pick to the Orlando Magic for Aaron Gordon. This is all based on the premise that the Steph/Klay/Dray window is closing, of course, and has the consequence of the Warriors having to hold off on finding someone from a loaded 2021 Draft who Steph might eventually pass the torch to.
@samesfandiari: This one is the toughest Q of all. So many factors w/ re: to TPE. Where do they pick? What does the player cost to acquire? There are players I'd like but aren't worth 2-3 first-round picks. Gut opinion: Aaron Gordon. Orlando has passively considered moving him the last year. Perhaps this is an ideal opportunity to unload him for a different type of player. Gordon is a super athlete, has shown he's capable of guarding multiple positions and can pass a little bit. He'd be a welcome addition to warriors core.
@Jannelle12: I was against the idea at first but I'm inclined to say acquiring Michael Carter-Williams on the minimum would be a steal. The Warriors need to solidify their defense and Carter-Williams provides versatility and length. Another solid target would be Derrick Rose. He was shooting as high as 37 percent from deep in Minnesota a year ago. For the Pistons, he's been efficient. He can steady the second unit while Steph is on the bench. 
@AndyKHLiu: With Brian Windhorst's article, I would guess the Warriors are doubling down and getting ready to spend during a time that no one else can or will. Whether that be in the form of using the trade exception to eat a contract or buying first-round picks, Joe Lacob is in a unique situation to take advantage of being one of the richest franchises in the NBA. That is why I think they will be willing to use most if not all of the trade exception in acquiring Aaron Gordon. They would have to bring in another team or find a bridge contract to get to Aaron Gordon in next year's trade deadline. And beyond that, the next few years would send their tax bill to astronomical levels. All that being said, I think if the option is on the table, the Warriors do it. Aaron Gordon would be the bigger version of the hybrid wing/big that Andrew Wiggins is (hybrid guard/forward). Both were stuck in bad situations with immense talent that the Warriors hope Steph Curry fixes. And he will. With the finishing lineup Steph at the 1, Wiggins at the 2, Klay at the 3, Gordon at the 4, Draymond at the 5, how's Death Lineup 3.0 for you?
@GSWReddit: Assuming the Warriors don’t want to trade away either their 2021 Minnesota pick or their 2020 1st (or at the most would only do a pick swap for the 5-15 range), there’s quite a limitation on what sort of player they could get for the TPE. Someone who could make some sense for both parties would be Rudy Gay. The Spurs seem to be edging towards a youth movement and an upheaval of their roster and Gay might be someone they are willing to part with just to move on from him and his salary alone (or maybe for some sort of low-level asset like a second-rounder). The Warriors could use a big wing who can play as a 3/4 in their lineups and a veteran like Gay can offer them a scoring punch off the bench and mentorship for their very young roster. If I recall correctly, the Warriors actually had some interest in Gay prior to him signing with the Spurs in 2017, so it’s definitely a union that could make sense and probably a realistic get for them. 
My take (@grantliffmann): Aaron Gordon would take a lot of maneuvering to pull off, and I am not sure the Warriors will want to take their time to do so if it means sacrificing assets and passing up other opportunities. Rudy Gay has been a name that has popped up in rumors, and would typically make sense, if the front office figured they would be getting the 2018-19 version of him versus the one this season that struggled mightily. If the Warriors were not looking to spend all of the TPE, however, names like Tomas Satoranksy and Derrick Rose could be perfect additions to the backcourt.