Warriors hope to keep Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II eclipses NBA draft

Warriors hopes to keep Looney, GP2, Porter eclipse draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO – With three picks in the NBA draft Thursday night, the Warriors selected three players, none over the age of 20, with profiles ranging from low to barely visible, which aligns perfectly with their desired target.

Although they would like to see those choices — go ahead Patrick Baldwin Jr. in the first roundguard Ryan Rollins and forward Gui Santos in the second round — develop into impact players in a few years, the Warriors remain focused on the immediate.

What is as it should be. There is no earthly way this proud franchise would consider defending its championship with a roster of five players who are not yet 21.

With free agency in a week, the “now” remains top of mind. The first and last priority for the Warriors, from CEO Joe Lacob to CEO Bob Myers to coach Steve Kerr, is to make the most complete reunion financially rational.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are under contract. So are the three youngsters, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. All eight will ideally be in Golden State’s 2022-23 rotation.

“We think Moody and Kuminga can hopefully be rotation guys for us,” Myers said shortly after the draft closed. “Although they are young, they have proven that they can play in this competition. We hope that Wiseman can be one of those guys again.

“We have eight playable players. We hope to add at least two or three in free agency. And now you’re talking about what we think could be a rotation of 11.”

The two or three targets of free agency are clear: Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. They are all UFAs. GP2 and OPJ are coming off minimal deals and lining up to receive exponential increases. Looney is out of a three-year deal worth $14.5 million and could aim to nearly double that.

If the Warriors can keep two out of three, that’s a huge win. If they somehow bring all three back without breaking the bank, it’s miraculous. The order priority, based on innuendo, is Looney, GP2, and OPJ. That’s likely influenced by the belief that Porter is most likely to make a deal that’s out of their reach.

“We definitely want all those guys,” Myers said. “We made that clear to them. We made that clear to the world. They know how much they mean to us. I think they liked it here; they were all successful in different ways. So we’re going to do our best to bring (Looney) back. Bring all those boys back.

“Fortunately, this ownership group supports that.”

The Warriors front office and Kerr sat down to the draft board, thinking as much about what they hope to accomplish in free agency next week as what they could do in the draft Thursday.

RELATED: Warriors Appreciate Baldwin’s Basketball IQ Over Injury Concerns

There was never a thought that any of their three design choices would be expected to contribute as rookies.

“Last year, when we drafted the young guys, we thought we could fill the roster with some veterans — minimal type of players,” Myers said. “And we were able to do that. This year we hope to bring back some of our own experienced players, along with some other players who will have more experience.”

The rookies will likely spend most of their time with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors; Santos may continue to play in Brazil. With Kerr trying to find minutes for sophomore lottery picks Kuminga and Moody, as well as semi-rookie Wiseman, there’s just no room for teens next season.

The Warriors built themselves into a powerhouse primarily through design. Perhaps the rookies can make a significant contribution in a few years. Not now though, as it’s pedal to the medal hoping to have a team capable of repeating.

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