When the Golden State Warriors traded Jordan Poole, a 24-year-old combo guard, for Chris Paul, a 38-year-old veteran, they made it apparent that they intend to go all-in on a veteran core with Stephen Curry and company next season. Then came the Dubs’ free agency moves, which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the team’s combined basketball IQ and experience will compensate for the team’s fading athleticism.
Overall, the Warriors, in addition to re-signing Draymond Green to a four-year, $100 million contract in free agency, added Cory Joseph and Dario Saric, two players whose skill sets should flourish in the Dubs’ ecosystem. The team also signed rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis to a four-year contract, with the final two seasons non-guaranteed.
But first, let’s take a closer look at how the Warriors did in free agency by assessing each of their additions.
Warriors free agency grades
Draymond Green was re-signed to a four-year, $100 million contract:
There isn’t much that hasn’t been stated regarding Draymond Green’s importance to the Warriors’ prospects of winning the NBA championship in 2024. Green is 33 years old and plainly in decline athletically, but his skill set allows him to perform a position on the club that probably only he can in the league.
Green, along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, plays lovely string music on offense. The Dubs’ mind-meld is on full show anytime they run dribble handoffs, their signature low-post split movement, or even basic pindowns or curls off screens. The open man is almost usually found by Green.
Then there’s the issue of defense. Draymond Green’s defensive versatility is difficult to match despite his small stature of 6’6. Green can guard anyone, including the world’s LeBron Jameses and Anthony Davises. His ability to communicate on defense and his superb placement make him a vital pillar for the Warriors — a marriage of two people who would be worse off apart.
The main disadvantage to Green’s contract is that it might last until the Warriors veteran reaches the age of 37. Will Green mature gracefully? The only way to know is to wait and see. But, in the meanwhile, restoring the team’s heart and soul was essential if the team was to compete for a championship the next season.
Signing Cory Joseph to a veteran minimum contract: A-
Cory Joseph has been through so many bad playing situations in recent years that he’s essentially become a forgotten guy. For the past four seasons, Joseph has worked away on some poor Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons teams, serving whatever position they require while being pushed to the outskirts by the young guards those teams are attempting to develop.
However, Joseph had been a strong player for all of those years, a commanding offensive leader every time he took the court. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, he has averaged 7.3 points and 3.5 assists in just 23 minutes per night – picture how many more assists he could have had if he was playing with more talented shooters like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins.
With Chris Paul in town, Joseph might find himself filling in as a secondary playmaker. But Joseph can also spread the floor, shooting 37.6 percent from deep since moving to Sacramento in 2019. To top it all off, despite having been in the league since 2011, Joseph is only 31 years old, so he’s not a geriatric player.
The Warriors signed one of the free agency’s most underappreciated players for the veteran minimum. Joseph should be well worth the extra cost.
Signing Dario Saric to a veteran minimum contract: A
The Warriors’ crowd has been clamoring for the addition of a large warm body to the team’s frontcourt depth. And they received it recently in the form of Dario Saric, a player eager to get back into shape after hurting his ACL during the 2021 NBA Finals.
Last season, Saric was noticeably slower, and despite the Phoenix Suns’ injury difficulties, he failed to gain a starting berth in their rotation. However, after being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Saric’s play improved, with his scoring efficiency rising at the end of the season.
Nonetheless, what makes Dario Saric such a good addition, particularly for the Warriors, is that he matches the team’s needs for a bench big. Saric can shoot threes (he made 45 of his 115 attempts last season), so he should be a viable replacement for Kevon Looney. He can also run dribble handoffs and serve as a backup playmaking hub in the high post. His chemistry with Chris Paul from their Suns days should help matters.
Saric is also another year removed from his injury, so he might be set for a spectacular comeback season. And, for the veteran minimum, the Warriors could reap the benefits of such a low-risk free agency gamble.