Teams around the league are going to be frantically using the free agency period to try to decrease or even completely eliminate the gap between them and the Golden State Warriors.
Although the Warriors are comfortable atop the NBA hierarchy, they still have some things to take care of this free agency period.
Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News has a great story that outlines the priorities the Warriors have for this free agency period.
The first priority is obvious, as Kevin Durant has told the team he will opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.
Although bringing back Durant is the most important task at hand, there isn’t a lot of suspense related to whether he’s leaving or not.
Both Durant and the team have expressed enthusiasm in getting a deal done, and the real uncertainty isn’t whether the contract gets done, but what the parameters in terms of length and dollar figures ultimately look like.
Once the deal with Durant is worked out, the Warriors would then shift their attention towards their other free agents.
JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Nick Young, Kevon Looney, Patrick McCaw, and David West are not under contract for next season.
Young played on the mid-level exception last season, and the team is not expected to bring him back for next season.
West is seriously considering retirement, and it’s unclear if he’s simply going to step away from the game after winning back-to-back championships.
McGee has stated that he wants to remain with the Warriors for the rest of his career, so it’s really up to the team whether he’s back next season.
McCaw was tendered a qualifying offer by the Warriors, making him a restricted free agent. The likelihood of the Warriors bringing back McCaw is largely dependent on the type of market that develops for him and the offer sheet another team gives him.
Looney is another interesting case. He played an expanded role during the postseason and flashed a lot of his potential.
There could be a team intrigued enough to give him a contract that the Warriors don’t want to give, meaning his postseason performance might have moved him out of the price range the Warriors are working within.
Looney is a young player who hasn’t yet gotten to cash in on his talent, so it’s unknown how willing he would be to sacrifice money to stay with this team.
Pachulia didn’t play very much in the postseason, and he’s going to turn 35 next season. There might not be a huge urge for the team to bring him back.
Once there’s more clarity on the situation with all those free agents, the Warriors will decide on if they want to use a mid-level exception on another free agent.
That’s going to largely depend on the type of player willing to take it because it might push the team into increased luxury tax penalties.
The rest of the roster will then have to be filled out with players who are willing to play for the minimum to be a part of a legendary team.
The biggest question marks are probably going to be if guys like Looney and McCaw come back, which veterans are willing to join the team on minimum salaries, and if there’s a player the Warriors decide to give the mid-level exception to.
The Durant contract is going to get done. It’s just a matter of if he gives himself more flexibility with a shorter deal or decides to go for the increased long-term security.
It’s very hard to envision any type of scenario unfolding this free agency period in which the Warriors aren’t still the championship favorites for next season.