Why Warriors using trade exception on Zeller seems unlikely


When the Warriors traded Andre Iguodala to the Memphis Grizzlies in July 2019, they created a trade exception worth just under $17.2 million.

So they have the opportunity this offseason to acquire a player in a trade that makes up to that amount. But it's important to remember that based on salary obligations to their current roster, adding somebody at that figure would add tens of millions to the franchise's luxury tax bill.

As a result, it seems extremely unlikely that owner Joe Lacob would sign off on bringing in Cody Zeller, as the Charlotte Hornets big man is scheduled to earn about $15.4 million next season.

Why are we mentioning him specifically? Well, because Bleacher Report on Thursday presented a hypothetical transaction in which Golden State acquires Zeller in exchange for the No. 51 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

"Zeller is good enough to become the Warriors' starting center for now, and his $15.4 million expiring salary could come in handy in future trades," the article states.

While it's true that the Warriors could trade Zeller before next season's deadline, that sounds like a very risky proposition.

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The 28-year-old, who averaged 11.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season, has not shown the ability to be a threat from beyond the arc (he shot 24 percent from 3-point range last season on 1.3 attempts per game). And since Kevon Looney and Marquese Chriss are not proven 3-point shooters either, it's safe to assume the Warriors would like to add a big man who can help space the floor.


If Zeller's contract was in the $6 to $8 million range, perhaps we would be having a different conversation. But even still, we don't know if the Warriors will use any of the exception whatsoever.

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"One thing I've learned with Joe is you never say no, you never say never," coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami earlier this month. "Joe is so competitive and constantly is putting his money where his mouth is because he wants to win so badly. And he knows that we're in the midst of a run that can continue. So I don't put anything past Joe.

"I just think that realistically, we've lost so much revenue and we aren't guaranteed anything next year, it's hard to come out and say, 'Yeah, we're gonna use that thing.' It would probably have to be something really special."

It's safe to assume that Zeller doesn't fall in the "really special" category.

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