Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Harrison Barnes pays tribute to Warriors fans in farewell note

The Golden State Warriors landed a superstar Kevin Durant, but in doing so they had to part with a number of players that were a part of an NBA championship squad and a team that set a record for regular-season wins.

Harrison Barnes is headed to the Dallas Mavericks on a deal reported to be worth $94 million over four years. Warriors center Andrew Bogut is expected to join Barnes in Dallas, and big man Festus Ezeli is also expected to leave Oakland.

Barnes wrote a note to Golden State Warriors fans Monday and thanked them for their support over the last four seasons.

The dust has more-or-less settled following Kevin Durant's league-changing announcement that he will sign with the Golden State Warriors. You can take a deep breath.

Yes, this is happening. It is absolutely real.

As real as the Warriors' newfound roster crunch.

Signing Durant was a no-brainer for the Warriors. He's one of the most gifted scorers in NBA history, and a perfect fit for the Warriors' motion offense and super-switching defense. At the absolute least, he's a direct swap for Harrison Barnes. Man, what an upgrade that is.

There is collateral damage though —€” the Warriors agreed to trade Andrew Bogut to the Mavericks to clear his $11 million contract, which expires at the end of next season.

The Warriors will renounce most of their free agents, freeing Golden State of their cap holds. That includes restricted free-agent center Festus Ezeli, who, when renounced, will leave the Warriors without a center with NBA experience.

As of now, the Warriors have seven players under contract, Durant's looming $26.5 million one-plus-one deal, and first-round 7-footer Damian Jones. The Warriors have also reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with center Zaza Pachulia, using their second mid-level exception (the other is used by Shaun Livingston.)

Pachulia will almost certainly be the Warriors' starting center next season. He's taking a massive pay cut to go to Golden State. He had an objectively better season than Timofey Mozgov, who signed a four-year, $64 million deal. Pachulia will make less than $3 million next year.

Ultimately, signing Durant and renouncing every cap hold gives the Warriors roughly $3 million in cap space to sign at least four players and more likely five.

The Warriors might not have to renounce the cap holds two free agents they hold early Bird rights on —€” James Michael McAdoo and Brandon Rush. Golden State could bypass opening up roughly $3 million in cap space to keep the pair on the books, signing them to deals that are allowed to go over the cap.

Keeping Rush and McAdoo would give the Warriors 12 players.

Cue the minimum contracts.

NBA teams can offer minimum contracts that can last up to two years, even if they are over the salary cap. This is how Richard Jefferson signed with the Cavs last year.

Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa are decent bets to return on minimum salaries next season —€” they are at the tail end of their careers and enjoy the culture in Oakland.

If both come back, that gives the Warriors 14. You can carry 15 players on a roster.

This is where things get fun. There will be no lack of free agents interested in playing for the Warriors for a cut rate —€” guys who want a chance in the league or veterans who have made their money and want to play for a winner.

Big men who fit the bill include Henry Sims, Johnny O'Bryant (once he clears waivers), Robert Sacre, Thomas Robinson, Amar'e Stoudemire (Steve Kerr can make it right!), Nazr Muhammed, and David West (though he'd have to take way less money than he took last year with San Antonio.)

Shooters who might be interested in a minimum deal: Josh Smith (seriously),Kevin Martin, and Alonzo Gee (though he isn't much of a shooter.)

Nate Robinson, Jason Terry, Steve Blake and Norris Cole might be available on a minimum contract to be backup point guards.

Myers has shown that he's capable of maneuvering in the market despite his tight confines, so there's little reason to think he won't maximize the best recruiting pitch in the NBA: We're the prohibitive favorites to win the title and you can be part of this wild ride.

How the Warriors finish their roster will be determined in the coming days, but the Warriors shouldn't be making too many sacrifices in quality to get to 15.

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