Warriors Rumors

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

When the Kings sign Troy Williams to a two-way contract after he clears waivers today, as is expected, they’ll become the 16th NBA team to fill all 17 of their available roster spots, with 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way pacts.

Still, that will leave nearly half of the league’s teams that will still have at least one opening on their rosters, either on the standard 15-man squad or in their two-way slots.

For many clubs, that decision is primarily financially motivated. Teams like the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Raptors, and Wizards all project to have pricey luxury tax bills at season’s end, so there’s no need for them to push those projected penalties higher by carrying an extra player they won’t use.

Other teams may simply prefer to preserve some roster flexibility rather than carrying a full 15-man squad. The Lakers, for instance, aren’t close to the tax line, but have an open roster spot for now. That could allow the team to make a trade or signing later to fortify its roster without costing anyone a job.

Listed below, with the help of our roster counts breakdown, are the teams that aren’t carrying full rosters.

Teams with an open 15-man roster spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Miami Heat
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards
    • Note: The Wizards have two open roster spots and will need to fill one of them by October 30.

Teams with an open two-way slot:

  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers
    • Note: The Blazers have two open two-way slots.
  • San Antonio Spurs

Warriors Confident In Center Position

Curry Not Counting On MVP Votes; Cousins Has New Shoe Contract

“That’s one of the reasons Luke is good,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who once employed Walton as his lead assistant. “He’s grown up in the NBA and he understands what a weird world we live in. The job changes almost daily depending on your circumstances.”

  • Stephen Curry tells Marcus Thompson of The Athletic he doesn’t believe he’ll be in the MVP race regardless of the numbers he posts. The Warriors guard already has a pair of MVP trophies, but he says “the narrative” doesn’t work in his favor. “I don’t care,” he said. “I just know the narrative isn’t there, so I would have to go above and beyond. So, it’s whatever. I’m blessed to have three rings. I’m good.”
  • Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins has a new shoe deal with Puma after Nike refused to match his offer, tweets Nick DePaula of ESPN. Cousins becomes the top player associated with the Puma brand.

Kevin Durant Addresses 2019 Free Agency

Kevin Durant will be the biggest free agent on the market during the 2019 offseason and a return to the Warriors doesn’t appear to be a foregone conclusion, which means speculation about his decision will continue through the 2018/19 season. While Durant recognizes why that will happen, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’s hoping not to be constantly asked about it in the coming months.

“I know it’s easy to look at that type of [expletive] because it’s the entertainment side. But wait until the season is over with to analyze [free agency],” Durant said to Haynes. “I know it’s your job and it’s hard to say that, but try to shift some of your focus to the court, too. I know you have to still do your job and check on stuff like that, but every day? Every city I go to? Come on, man. I said what I had to say at media day. I understand your job, but let’s come to a little agreement. Don’t ask me every time you see me. If it’s the first time I’m seeing y’all, I don’t mind answering. But every time? Come on, bro.”

After winning back-to-back championships with the Warriors and earning consecutive Finals MVPs, Durant said that he doesn’t expect “anything extra” from the franchise this season as it tries to recruit him for a longer-term stay, adding, “I already know what this organization is about.”

While the Warriors will have Durant’s Bird rights at the end of the season, giving them the ability to offer a five-year worth up to a projected $221MM+, rival executives believe it may be possible to lure the 30-year-old away from the Bay Area. As Haynes details, the Knicks, Lakers, and Clippers are among the many teams with cap room who may have eyes for Durant. Sources tell Haynes that personnel from the Clippers, specifically, are expected to attend a “high number” of Warriors games this season.

[RELATED: Knicks viewed as a legit suitor for Kevin Durant]

Unless he’s willing to publicly commit to re-signing with the Warriors – like Kyrie Irving did with the Celtics – Durant won’t be able to stop the speculation, a fact he acknowledges. However, he suggests to Haynes that he may not be overly receptive to questions about his upcoming free agency if they continue all year long.

“It depends on how I feel that day,” Durant said. “If I’m in a [expletive]-up mood, you’re going to see. Ask me that question and you’re going to really see what mood I’m in.”

Klay Thompson Unlikely To Accept Discount With Warriors

  • Klay Thompson – who will be a free agent in 2019 – has no plans to accept a discount on his next contract, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, reports Lowe. Still, O’Connor says that sources he has spoken to would be “shocked” if Thompson left Golden State.

    [SOURCE LINK]

Bulls Claim Tyler Ulis, Give Him Two-Way Deal

OCTOBER 15: The Bulls have officially confirmed that they’ve converted Ulis’ contract into a two-way deal, announcing the move in a press release.

OCTOBER 14: The Bulls have claimed point guard Tyler Ulis off of waivers, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter). Ulis was previously with the Warriors throughout training camp but was released this past week.

After getting a larger role than expected during his rookie season with the Suns, Ulis struggled throughout the 2017/18 season, leading to his release from the team. In his first two seasons in the league, Ulis averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists per game, but only shot 40.3% from the field and 28% on 3-pointers.

The Bulls already have 15 players on standard NBA contracts, but are only carrying one player (Rawle Alkins) on a two-way deal. Because Ulis was on an Exhibit 10 contract with Golden State, his deal can be converted into a two-way pact, allowing Chicago to avoid making any cuts to accommodate the newly-added point guard. The Bulls will do just that, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ulis will add some depth to a point guard depth chart that features Kris Dunn, Cameron Payne, and Ryan Arcidiacono as the Bulls look to add more young talent throughout their rebuild.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Curry, Nash, Green

With Kevin Durant set to enter free agency in less than nine months, many have begun to speculate whether this could be the final season the Warriors have their championship core together.

Durant, who joined Curry, Thompson, Green and the Warriors in 2016, will certainly register league-wide interest once he reaches free agency at season’s end, but that hasn’t stopped the team from staying focused on the main goal: Winning the NBA title this year.

“Maybe there is a little bit of fatigue in terms of covering us, because it feels like people trying to plant seeds that aren’t there,” Stephen Curry said, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. “At the end of the day, N.B.A. players have the opportunity to go where they want to go, but I feel like people want to be here. We have a great thing going that we want to sustain and keep together for as long as we can.

“Whatever happens next summer is going to happen — regardless of what anybody says right now. So my job — and I think the way we’re all approaching this — is that this year is about this year. It’s nothing for us to worry about right now, because it’s all kind of wasted breath.”

The Warriors signed center DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal this past offseason, meaning he could also leave in free agency next summer. Regardless, the team’s sole priority remains winning a third straight championship and accomplishing their goals for the upcoming season.

There’s more out of Golden State:

  • Draymond Green will likely see his minutes limited in the first few regular season games, according to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater (Twitter link). Green dealt with a sore knee throughout the preseason, but he’s expected to play in Tuesday’s home opener against the Thunder.
  • Warriors owner Joe Lacob doesn’t understand the added speculation surrounding Durant’s future free agency, Mark Medina of The Mercury News writes. “It’s not even on my mind,” Lacob said. “There’s no more uncertainty this year than there was last. He’s been on a one-year deal each year. So I don’t really understand what all the hullabaloo is about.”
  • Steve Nash, a consultant for the Warriors, added his thoughts on the Durant situation and predicted that the two-time Finals MVP stay, according to Dejan Kalinic of Sporting News. “I think it would be strange for me to predict at this point that he would leave. I think he would probably stay, but you never know what happens next year.”

Warriors Notes: D. Jones, Evans, Cousins, Jerebko

The Warriors came into camp expecting to make Damian Jones their starting center on opening night, but they were happy he was able to earn the job with his preseason play, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Jones was competing with Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney for the starting honor, but has separated himself from the pack.

“I think Damian has probably been one of the best stories in camp,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We were committed to giving him minutes, but we weren’t sure what we’d see.”

Jones’ performance may be enough to convince the team to pick up his $2.3MM option for next season. That decision is due by the end of October, and every dollar is important to the Warriors, who project to be well into the luxury tax again in 2019/20. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to take over as the starting center once he returns from an Achilles injury, but the chances are remote that he’ll return next year, so Golden State has to decide if Jones is the center of the future.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along, all courtesy of Slater:

  • Patrick McCaw‘s holdout gave rookie guard Jacob Evans a chance to earn a rotation spot, but he wasn’t able to impress the coaching staff. Evans didn’t play well in either the summer league or the preseason, prompting Kerr to say, “We’ll throw him out there from time to time.” Evans is fine as a defender, but he shot 6 for 25 during the preseason and missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts.
  • Cousins seems to be making progress in his rehab work, although he and the team haven’t talked much about it. No target date has been set for his return, but coaches allowed him to participate in a two-on-two scrimmage in front of the media at Thursday’s practice.
  • There are concerns that offseason addition Jonas Jerebko might be a repeat of Omri Casspi, who suffered a loss of confidence and became hesitant to shoot as last season wore on. Jerebko, who signed in July after being waived by the Jazz, had a difficult preseason and started passing up shots. Slater suggests that the start of the season might provide a welcome “mental reset” for the veteran shooter.

No Suspensions For Curry, Cousins

Stephen Curry and DeMarcus Cousins won’t be suspended for leaving the bench area during Friday’s preseason finale, writes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Both players stepped onto the court during a skirmish between Quinn Cook and the Lakers’ Lance Stephenson, but the NBA office ruled that the incident didn’t rise to the level of an altercation.

Curry could have been forced to sit out the season opener Tuesday night against the Thunder, while Cousins’ suspension would have taken effect once he returns from an Achilles injury.

The play happened in the fourth quarter when Cook committed a hard foul on Stephenson, who was driving to the basket. Stephenson swung his right arm in retaliation, and officials and players stepped in to break them up.

Curry and Cousins both walked onto the court, but assistant coach Jarron Collins quickly moved them back to the bench area.

Warriors Players React To McCaw’s Holdout

Patrick McCaw has baffled some of his teammates during his contract standoff with the Warriors, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. McCaw sat out all of training camp and the preseason and isn’t returning calls from players who have reached out to him.

The third-year guard went through the summer without accepting a $1.7MM qualifying offer the team made shortly after last season ended. The Warriors responded with an offer that includes a starting salary in excess of $2MM, along with a second year that is non-guaranteed. McCaw’s representatives have reportedly been urging him to take either that deal or the QO, but so far he hasn’t budged.

“You can’t do this after two years,” an unidentified teammate said. “You’ve got to get the clout first. He doesn’t have the leverage.”

McCaw’s options are limited. As a restricted free agent, Golden State can match any offer he receives from another team. With virtually the entire league operating either over or near the salary cap, McCaw isn’t likely to receive an offer at this point that’s large enough for the Warriors to let him leave.

If he opts to sit out the entire season, Golden State will still keep his rights and he won’t be any closer to unrestricted free agency.

“He’s a man and I support his decision to handle his business how he sees fit,” one of the team’s young players told Thompson. “I don’t know what he’s doing. I don’t understand. But I don’t take it as personal. He has to do what’s best for him. It’s just weird.”

The Warriors have been keeping a roster spot open for McCaw, but that may now go to Alfonzo McKinnie, who agreed to a two-year contract on Friday. Golden State had been counting on McCaw to be the primary backup to Klay Thompson, especially with Nick Young no longer on the roster. Rookie Jacob Evans filled that role during the preseason, but wasn’t particularly effective.

Thompson believes management and the players would still welcome McCaw back if he has a change of heart, but time is running short. Teammates are confused by the way he has handled this offseason and some are concerned about his well-being.

“There has to be something else going on,” one player said. “Has to be. I hope he’s all right.”