Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has been an integral player during the club’s 2022 NBA Finals run, prompting Zach Lowe of ESPN to take a deep dive revisiting Golden State’s acquisition of the 27-year-old – who made his first All-Star team this year – and exploring what retaining Wiggins could cost the club going forward.
After former Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant decided to join the Nets during the 2019 offseason, Golden State team president Bob Myers convinced Durant and Brooklyn to agree to a double sign-and-trade that would send out the two-time Finals MVP and a future Warriors draft pick in exchange for 2019 All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell. Golden State then sent Russell to the Timberwolves at the 2020 trade deadline. In the deal, the Warriors received Wiggins and a top-three protected first-round draft pick, which eventually was used to select rookie small forward Jonathan Kuminga in 2021.
Wiggins has been a solid two-way player in the postseason, and Lowe notes that his defense on Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic and now Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum has been instrumental for Golden State. It took Wiggins some time to fit into the Warriors’ switch-heavy offensive scheme and get comfortable with more off-ball movement than he was used to while with Minnesota.
“In this system, you have to move a lot,” Wiggins said. “A lot of the positions are almost interchangeable.”
After this season, Wiggins has one year left and $33.6MM on the hefty rookie scale contract extension he signed with the Timberwolves. Lowe notes that breakout Warriors guard Jordan Poole is eligible for a contract extension this season. Veterans Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will become unrestricted free agents in 2024, but Green has a player option for the 2023/24 season. The team will also have to make determinations on free agent role players Gary Payton II and starting center Kevon Looney this summer. Lowe wonders if the team will ultimately decide to pick between Wiggins and Poole soon, or between Wiggins and the starrier veterans Thompson and Green later. The club payroll, including salary and luxury tax penalties, could get as high as $475MM if everyone is retained, Lowe notes.
There’s more out of San Francisco:
- Warriors veteran forward Andre Iguodala, who sat during the team’s 107-88 Game 2 victory due to right knee swelling, remains questionable for Game 3 on Wednesday with left knee soreness, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 38-year-old, who was the 2015 Finals MVP for the Warriors, scored seven points and dished out three assists across 12 minutes of action in Game 1.
- Prior to the start of his eventful 2021/22 season with the Warriors, reserve guard Gary Payton II contemplated joining the team as a video coordinator, per Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter video link). “They were telling me my chances were kind of low of making the team… they had a video coordinating job open, and I was trying to… ask for an interview for that job just to stay around this team,” Payton told Andrews. “They cut me and next step was to go back to the [G League] or stay here and be close to the team… Next thing you know I get a call saying, ‘You’re the 15th man.’” Payton, currently on a one-year, $1.9MM contract with Golden State, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and will certainly not have to worry about a contingency video coordinator gig in the immediate future. The 29-year-old journeyman finally emerged as a full-time rotation player during his second season with Golden State, averaging 17.6 MPG across 71 contests. His modest counting stats of 7.1 PPG, 3.5 APG and 1.4 SPG belie his on-court impact — he has established himself as one of the team’s top wing defenders.
- Warriors wing Klay Thompson has scored just 26 points on 10-of-33 shooting from the field across his first two NBA Finals games against the Celtics, with swingman Jaylen Brown serving as his main defender. Anthony Slater of The Athletic wonders how much of Thompson’s shooting woes are the result of the Celtics’ excellent perimeter defense, and how much is merely a product of a shooting slump.