JUST IN: The Warriors Wished To Sign 3 Rival Players As Free Agency

The Golden State Warriors entered free agency in 2023 with nothing to work with. Because of the franchise’s league-high payroll, they could only offer minimum contracts to potential players, severely limiting its ability to recruit big-name free agents.

The NBA has finally caught up with the Golden State Warriors

By the time free agency arrived, the Warriors had already made a significant offseason move. The Jordan Poole trade for Chris Paul was their largest move, with free agency serving as a method to finalize the end of their roster.

Which available players would the Golden State Warriors regret not being able to sign in free agency last offseason?

As a result, Golden State’s free agent acquisitions have been unimpressive. Their most notable addition was Dario Saric, who appeared to be an extremely savvy signing on a minimal contract at the time.

That belief persisted early in the season, when the Croatian was one of the team’s best performers for the first 30-40 games. However, as the season went, Saric’s defensive shortcomings became increasingly clear.

His minutes as a small-ball five became unworkable, prompting head coach Steve Kerr to play him exclusively at four with either Trayce Jackson-Davis or Draymond Green. However, neither that nor the return of Paul, with whom he had worked so effectively earlier in the season, helped significantly.

Saric is currently out of the rotation and does not have a clear path back to a regular role. To be honest, this could be attributed to Golden State’s strong roster as much as Saric’s ability.

Cory Joseph, a veteran point guard, was also signed by the Warriors with the hopes of filling in for Paul or Stephen Curry if they were unable to play. Unfortunately, things did not work out between the player and the franchise, and Joseph was traded to the Indiana Pacers at the deadline to save taxes.

So, with Saric making little impact right now and Joseph off the club entirely, which realistically available players would the Warriors have been better suited signing? Let’s take a look at three players the franchise would regret passing up, beginning with a longtime rival guard:

1. Eric Gordon

We know the Warriors were interested in signing Eric Gordon, as the veteran guard revealed that he turned down offers from Golden State, Milwaukee, and Houston to sign a two-year, $6.6 million contract (second-year player option) with the Phoenix Suns.

Gordon has been one of the league’s finest three-point shooters for the past decade. That hasn’t changed in Phoenix, where the 35-year-old has averaging 6.2 attempts per game, his highest since the 2020-21 season.

Gordon makes 38% of his three-point attempts and averages 12 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. Due to injury concerns, the Suns have most likely relied on the former Sixth Man of the Year more than anticipated, with Gordon averaging 29.5 minutes and 24 starts in 53 games.

While the presence of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson guarantees that the Warriors will rank high in three-point attempts, this squad actually lacks shooting outside of the renowned tandem. Last season, five Golden State players made more than two three-pointers on average, and four will do the same in 2021-22. This season, only Curry and Thompson are doing so, with Chris Paul coming in third with an average of 1.4 threes per game.

Gordon could have helped with this, as he averaged 2.4 three-pointers this season. There’s also the possibility of bringing in another seasoned postseason performer, which the Warriors might have used after their shocking defeat to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

2. Malik Beasley

After averaging over 25 minutes per game for the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers last season, the Milwaukee Bucks surprise signed Malik Beasley to a one-year, $2.7 million contract.

Perhaps more surprise, the championship-contending Bucks have given Beasley a more significant role than he has had with other teams in the past. This season, the 27-year-old has started all 62 games for Milwaukee, averaging 29.6 minutes and helping the team finish second in the Eastern Conference.

Beasley has been a sharpshooter for most of his career, but this season, playing alongside Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, he’s taken it to another level. His 43.6% from beyond the arc ranks sixth in the NBA, and he is also 11th in total three-pointers made this season.

Beasley is averaging 11.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. He’s also been tasked with becoming Milwaukee’s point-of-attack defender, which, while fluctuating in success, is a significant duty for a man on a minimum salary.

While Beasley may not have started for the Warriors, he may have played a key role as a 3-and-D option off the bench. In a similar vein to Gordon, Golden State could have used Beasley’s shooting to compliment Curry and Thompson.

According to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto on July 2, last year, the Warriors were one of six teams to express interest in Beasley at the start of free agency. What could’ve been.

3. Kelly Oubre Jr.

While Gordon or Beasley may have joined the Warriors last offseason, it’s quite doubtful that the team will ever rejoin with Kelly Oubre Jr. following his disappointing tenure in 2021-22.

That does not change the fact that Oubre has proven to be one of the league’s most important pickups from last summer. The 28-year-old had an extended spell without a team until signing with the Philadelphia 76ers in late September.

His offensive usage may have decreased after two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, but Oubre remains a talented scorer who can be a secondary option in a starting lineup or a scoring punch off the bench.

In 29.2 minutes per game, the former Warrior averaged 14.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.2 steals. His three-point percentage is down to 30.2%, but Oubre’s overall efficiency has increased as a result of relying less on his outside shooting — he’s only taken 4.5 attempts per game this season, compared to over seven in each of the previous two seasons with Charlotte and over five with Golden State the year before.

Given Andrew Wiggins’ uneven play this season, there would have been occasions where the Warriors could have used Oubre’s scoring skills. Would this have influenced Jonathan Kuminga’s development? Maybe. However, Oubre may still be more useful than Saric right now.

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