The Warriors may have been quiet at the opening of free agency, but their own free agents were very busy.
Gary Payton II signed a three-year, $27 million deal to join the Blazers, as reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania. Otto Porter Jr. is going to the Raptors on a multi-year deal with a player option, per Yahoo's Chris Haynes. Juan Toscano-Anderson joined the Lakers on a minimum deal, per Haynes. And Nemanja Bjelica is returning to Europe to play for Turkish club Fenerbahce, according to Sportando.
All four players were important bench pieces that contributed to their title run. What is in store for Warriors now?
Who do the Warriors still have under contract?
The big names on the Warriors are still locked up through at least next season. That includes Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Jordan Poole, and Moses Moody.
The Warriors also drafted Patrick Baldwin Jr. in the first round. He'll have a guaranteed contract, but probably won't be ready for NBA minutes. He was a project taken with the 28th pick.
That leaves the team with six roster spots left to fill.
What do the Warriors have available to spend?
The Warriors can bring back their own free agents like Kevon Looney and Damion Lee if they want to dip into the luxury tax. They have cap exceptions that will allow them to spend whatever is needed for that to happen.
If they want to search the free agent pool to replace those players, then they will have to rely on the $6.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception and minimum contracts to fill out the rest of their roster.
Will the Warriors bring back Kevon Looney?
Looney is set to return to the Warriors on a three-year, $25.5 million contract, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Looney was a key player on the team's title run, and Steve Kerr indicated that he wanted Looney back.
“We’re all rooting for him personally to get a really good contract," Kerr said after the season ended. "Hopefully, it’s from us.”
The Warriors bringing Looney back is very expensive. Per ESPN's Bobby Marks, a contract starting at $7 million would cost the Warriors $36 million in luxury tax payments. Finding a player on the minimum to replace those minutes would have saved the Warriors tens of millions of dollars, but it would almost surely have been a downgrade in talent.
Can the Warriors make a trade for Kevin Durant?
Free agency is not going to provide great avenues to replace the talent that the Warriors lost. Their spending is too limited, and the pool of free agents remaining is uninspiring.
Probably the best for the Warriors to add talent is through the trade market. They have young players in Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman, and Moses Moody that could bring back veteran help. They also have all of their first-round picks outside of the 2024 pick owed to the Grizzlies.
The obvious big name on the market is Kevin Durant. Could a package of those three players, some matching salary in the form of Andrew Wiggins, and a bevy of picks and pick swaps be enough to get Durant?
In theory, yes. In practice, no.
That package is maybe the best one out there for Durant, and the Nets would probably bite on it. But the Warriors probably wouldn't be interested. Durant definitely wouldn't be. Barring a series of marathon therapy sessions between everyone involved, it's not happening.
That doesn't preclude the Warriors from searching out other trades as they become available. They have a lot to offer for quality veteran help, and they won't be able to find the same caliber of player through minimum signings on the free agency market. Durant might not be right for them, but superstars are always becoming available on the trade market. The Warriors are in a good position to pounce on the next one that comes up.