The Golden State Backup Plan…

Updated: August 4, 2021
Steve Kerr, Bob Myers

With how low the expectations are on Kuminga, it is not hard to imagine with a solid offseason and special attention from Draymond Green, that Kuminga’s stock as an asset rises tremendously. Whether he will actually become the player his new stock value implies is irrelevant in this equation, the only significant element is the perceived value of the rookie.
Give me a minute to explain.

Once the trade deadline last year passed, so did the likelihood that the Warrior’s would use the Kelly Oubre contract to acquire another asset. The reason for this being is the timing of the draft and free agency. This small gap makes it impossible to add these recently drafted assets as rookie contracts within a 30-day window. Also, sign & trade contracts cannot be swapped if either team is hard-capped by the transaction. For example, the rumored exchange of Kelly Oubre Jr. for Lonzo Ball from the Pelicans is no longer possible, as the Warriors are well over the hard cap. They could use him though in a sign and trade for a preexisting contract.

Without the Oubre contract, the contract that gets brought up most often is the Wiggins salary. The rest of the league is more than ready to “salary dump” Wiggins for just about any matching salary around the league. It is understandable though, as the Warriors were quite terrible last season on a night-to-night basis, hardly anyone was watching Andrew Wiggins becoming one of the most underrated defenders in basketball, not only on-ball, but with protecting the rim. It is not to say the Warriors wouldn’t trade Andrew if the right deal came around, they absolutely would. The problem is that it hasn’t. They had hoped to tie up all their loose ends prior to the draft but Beal appears to be locked in on signing his 5-year extension in Washington, and Morey is busy posturing ridiculous trade offers for Ben Simmons as if no one else in the league can see this childish attempt to resuscitate big Ben’s trade value.

Fast-forward to the draft, and there simply was no trade-down options worth executing. So, what is the backup plan? The Warriors selected two players they like, but for what reason? Of course, best-case scenario, Kuminga, and Moody fit like a glove and Wisemen becomes a competent usable big. However, this is not what Myers is betting on. At the draft, the only substantial expendable contracts were Wiggins, Draymond, Wisemen, and Looney. At the trade deadline, they will have those salaries in addition to Kuminga, Moody, and all added contracts in free agency. With Wisemen at 9.1, Kuminga at 5.5, Looney at 5.1, Moody at 3, and the mid-level exception, the Warriors can package an attractive offer of assets able to match a 30-million-dollar contract.

Waiting for the 30-day window of trade restrictions on rookies is the only way to trade for a star or a collection of high-level role players without having to include Wiggins or Draymond Green. It also allows Golden State to include their 2022 first-round pick, and if they lifted the 1-4 protection on the 2024 pick owed to Memphis, they also would be able to add their 2026 and 2028 picks. The first moment available for such an exchange would be a month after the rookies were signed, but there would be no rush as they would have till the deadline to execute the trade. Teams also tend to be more desperate at the deadline after all their hopes and delusional predictions are kicked to the curb by their terribly constructed rosters.
Even if Kuminga looks as rough as everyone predicts, his value will remain the same. The narrative will be that it was simply a poor decision by the front office to draft a kid with upside in a win-now situation. With Moody, as long as he is healthy and hitting north of 37% of his three’s he will retain his value. It gives a 3-month window to see what they have, and hopefully increase their value. Wisemen, Kuminga, Moody, and 3 unprotected picks, 2 of which go well past Curry, Klay, and Dray’s prime should be able to trump any package at the deadline for the best-disgruntled star available. Again, in a perfect world, Wisemen looks like Ayton and Kuminga looks like a poor man’s Zion, but it is only because of the Golden State Backup Plan they were able to gamble on Jonathan Kuminga.

As of now, Oubre’s offers have not been in the vicinity of what he had expected. Not only that, but they also signed a backup wing in Otto Porter Jr. on the cheap for a vet minimum, which is essentially the role that the Warriors were hoping to use Oubre Jr. in. Just hours ago, they gave away Eric Pascal to Utah for a “protected 2nd round pick” which basically means for free in order to create a roster spot. There are several rumors of interest in veteran Paul Millsap, which it appears they want only a minimum deal, because if they were willing to give him their mid-level exception the deal would be done already. If they cannot sign Millsap or any of the decent free agents still left, they may try to meet Oubre halfway just to retain the asset. If so, they would have yet another salary at the deadline to use in a blockbuster trade.

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