Warriors Anticipated to Split with $22.5 Million Starter from Championship Team.

The Golden State Warriors are known for maintaining their championship cores, but it seems they’re set to part ways with a key starter from their latest title-winning team. According to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, the Warriors are expected to release center Kevon Looney this offseason, as discussed on the “Warriors Plus Minus” podcast on June 6th.

“I think the likeliest situation is that he’s cut, and he makes $3 million from [the Warriors], and he’s off looking for another spot — and there will be another spot for him in this league,” Kawakami said. “Teams are going to want him, again for a very low number, but they’re going to want him.

Kawakami suggested that Kevon Looney could find potential backup roles with either the defending NBA champions, the Denver Nuggets, or the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs.

Trayce Jackson-Davis Has Made Kevon Looney Expendable to Warriors

Looney is entering the last year of his three-year, $22.5 million deal, which has partial guarantees, per Bleacher Report. His contract will have an $8 million salary cap impact for the Warriors in 2024-25. However, if the team fails to get below the luxury tax threshold this offseason, the cost will rise significantly due to penalties.

The potential savings from parting ways with Looney, if the Warriors decide to do so, is just one of the challenging personnel choices the team must make as they aim to reconstruct a competitive roster around Stephen Curry and Draymond Green in a more cost-effective manner.

As part of this endeavor, the Warriors are relying on several young talents who are still on rookie contracts. One notable player is center Trayce Jackson-Davis, who saw substantial playing time in his debut season and earned starts over Looney as the season progressed.

Jackson-Davis, the No. 57 overall pick in the second round of the 2023 draft, ended up starting 16 games compared to 36 starts for Looney. However, the rookie averaged more minutes per game (16.6) across 68 contests played than his veteran counterpart, who averaged 16.1 minutes over 74 regular-season appearances.

Jackson-Davis averaged 7.9 points, 5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks, according to Basketball Reference, and was a bouncier and more effective interior defender than Looney. If the Warriors choose to move on from Looney, doing so represents a strong bet on Jackson-Davis and his ability to develop into a legitimate starting center in the league.

Klay Thompson, Chris Paul May Also Depart Golden State This Summer

Another strong bet is that the Warriors decide to release backup point guard Chris Paul ahead of June 28, as doing so will wipe $30 million off of their books and go a long way toward getting out of the luxury tax. The team could then try to re-sign Paul in free agency at a vastly reduced salary, but would face strong competition for his services.

Golden State’s bill in 2024-25 will undoubtedly come down due to Klay Thompson’s impending entrance into unrestricted free agency. Thompson made more than $43 million last season, a figure that the Dubs will probably slash by at least half, assuming he is back in the Bay Area at all.

The off-ball guard was still a quality shooter and floor spacer, averaging 17.9 points per game and shooting nearly 39% from behind the 3-point line. Thompson’s beloved status in Golden State, as well as his past achievements, could buy him a little more understanding and money from the front office this summer.

But there will be a point somewhere on the salary scale at which each extra dollar for Thompson represents a decrease in his value to the franchise. Not to mention, the Warriors will likely have to bid against several other teams for Thompson and could find themselves priced out.

The Dubs would undoubtedly like to trade the final three years of Andrew Wiggins‘ $109 million contract, though doing so might actually cost the Warriors a trade asset simply to get another organization to take on the deal. Wiggins and Thompson were both starters alongside Looney during Golden State’s last run to a championship in 2022.

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