Now that free agency has finally begun, let the madness ensue. The frenzy of players finding new homes (or sometimes returning to their old ones, which was the case with Washington’s Marcin Gortat) is underway and the Golden State Warriors were the first to make a splash. They signed improved guard Shaun Livingston to a three-year contract worth approximately $16 million, according to reports.
The Warriors are not done with this year’s free agency pool as many holes remain on the roster. However, the Warriors’ needs depend greatly on whether they acquire Kevin Love. With Love, Golden State would have much less money to spend on bench players, dramatically limiting their options.
However, without Love and the massive salary he earns, the Warriors can be less frugal and target more expensive players. They must be careful, however, as they need to ensure they leave enough money for an imminent Klay Thompson extension (again, assuming no trade for Love happens).
Although the issue was somewhat addressed with Livingston, the Warriors still lack backcourt depth and could use veteran leadership behind Curry. Jameer Nelson could be a possibility, as the Orlando Magic recently waived him as they begin the rebuilding process.
Nelson–a proven player–would fit well in Golden State, providing shooting and ball-handling off the bench. At this stage in his career, a championship must be a priority and playing behind the Oracle Arena crowds with a competitive chance to win is a good way to close out a career.
Ever since Carl Landry left for Sacramento, the backup power forward position has plagued the Warriors. Marreese Speights was largely disappointing last season after he signed for three years and $11 million. Perhaps the Warriors could work out a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol.
Gasol, although not ruling out a return to L.A., has stated that winning is more important than money, making a potential deal with the Warriors possible. Even before the Warriors signed Livingston, the most Golden State could offer Gasol was their mid-level exception, which would be a drastic cut from what he’s been making in recent years.
Gasol is planning on meeting with the Warriors, among others, according to reports but the only way this deal gets done is via a sign-and-trade. Although the Lakers would rather not ship Gasol to a divisional-foe, they would accept with open arms whoever they get in return.
Although a deal for Gasol seems unlikely, it’s hard to not notice how well he’d fit into Golden State’s system. His ability to score in a multitude of ways–including his face-up jumper, would allow the Warriors to spread the floor. Besides giving the bench a hand, he’d also provide veteran leadership, similar to Nelson.
Recently, Gasol has struggled to stay healthy, but with his talent and ability, many teams would be willing to take the risk. With the Warriors, however, it’s not as much their willingness, but their ability to acquire him. However, if Joe Lacob and company do somehow pull it off, Golden State would be sitting pretty with one of the NBA’s most talented bench players.
If the Warriors miss out on Gasol, there are other replacement options including Channing Frye, Josh McRoberts, and Gasol’s teammate, Jordan Hill. Warriors’ small forward Andre Iguodala is campaigning for Frye, as the two were teammates at the University of Arizona.
As of now, the Warriors are still hoping Love will be on his way to Golden State. If the Warriors strike gold and land him, they will have no chance at Gasol and the others. They would need to look elsewhere to back up the NBA’s best starting five.