Time to rediscover the value of Warriors culture in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
When the Warriors called last summer, free agent striker Nicolas Batum politely declined and re-signed with the Clippers.
Free agent guard Patty Mills appreciated Golden State’s interest but signed with the Nets and was then considered a championship favorite.
Free agent wing Kent Bazemore could have returned, but decided to go elsewhere. He signed with the Lakers.
All three players chose teams that made it out of the playoffs, perhaps because they thought they would offer a better chance of winning a championship.
Eleven months later, with their chosen teams either missing the playoffs or making a quick exit, all they could do was watch the Warriors roll through the postseason, take an NBA Finals triumph and celebrate. with their fourth parade in eight seasons†
Is that enough to restore the cachet of the past three summers and make the Warriors the most beautiful team in the league once again?
Golden State’s culture will be put to the test at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, as the doors of the free-agent market swing open and negotiations begin. Exams and cross-examinations through July 6 and probably beyond. There are plenty of witnesses willing to testify on behalf of the team.
Andrew Wiggins, who has one season left on his contract, didn’t bother waiting to make a statement.
“I would love to stay here,” he said after The Finals. “To be here this is top notch. The way they treat the players, the way they treat your family, we’re all one big family. I know a lot of places would say that, but here their actions show it . So I’d love to stay here.”
As far as pitching goes, this scores at least an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. And there was no mention of what most players want, a chance to win. Wiggs also didn’t feel the need to name the other magic word: culture.
Culture and winning are the reasons why the Warriors have a pretty good chance of re-drawing Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II. Therefore, another season of Otto Porter Jr. conceivable. All three will get offers, but the Warriors have restored some lost luster.
“I hope our players give us the opportunity to respond to an offer,” said general manager Bob Myers. “They don’t have to. They don’t owe us. But that’s what you get when you win, and you create a good environment. You might get a chance to match something.”
Culture and winning are why David West, Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee have accepted not one but two veterinary deals in consecutive seasons. Culture and the chance to win big are why Shaun Livingston re-signed in July 2017 and why Andre Iguodala re-signed that same week — returning last summer after two seasons of absence.
With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Iguodala and Livingston out of the 2019-20 roster and deprived of any realistic chance of winning big, the Warriors signed Alec Burks, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marquese Chriss and Glenn Robinson III and hoped that the culture would allow them to flourish.
When Stephen Curry, aka Mr. Culture, which went down in its first week, was doomed that season. The Warriors finished an NBA worst 15-50. No culture, no winning.
Desperate to reclaim what they had lost, the Warriors spent approximately $80 million in salary and luxury taxes to help Kelly Oubre Jr. to add. The move wasn’t unanimously popular within the franchise’s walls, but the shot-callers were eager to regain some semblance of a contender.
The Oubre deal was a disasterjust like Brad Wanamaker. Bazemore had his moments and was good for the culture, but he didn’t bring success. Those Warriors stumbled through two play-in-game defeats and went in last summer.
The Warriors vowed to do well last summer, dangling Curry after an MVP-caliber season and the long-awaited return of Klay Thompson. Winning was possible.
That was enough to lure Iguodala, who was such an important part of the old championship culture. They signed Porter, who was looking for a place to maximize the value he’d lost after three seasons of misery due to injury.
Porter filled the place on the list that might have gone to Batum. The desire for Mills led to the signing of GP2. The Warriors, the smell of champagne still wafting through their nostrils, have no regrets.
“Given that we’ve just had a two-year chance to refill our cups and re-energize, I think we’ll be very motivated next year,” said coach Steve Kerr. “And the boys will have a great opportunity to have another great season.”
When the doors open, the Warriors will plant themselves in front of Looney while also reaching for GP2 and winking at OPJ. They also have backup options.
They get validated, hold a championship trophy and restore their culture. Their swagger is back. Well, a lot of it. The next few days will determine how much.