Although many close to him believe Curry has at least five seasons left in high-level basketball, Golden State should feel an urgency. Wasting what is left of Currys Prime would be a disservice to the most important player in franchise history. The Warriors Front Office should consider supporting Curry, 33, Draymond Green, 31, and Klay Thompson, 31, with a championship line-up for the next season.
Before Golden State can take care of trades or free agents, it must decide who should stay away from its current players between 2021 and 22. Here’s a breakdown of who’s on next season’s roster, who isn’t, and who has more to prove.
Kent Bazemore: He might not be flashy, but Bazemore is the type of role-player the warriors need besides Curry. His sense of space, his defensive versatility, his shooting efficiency and his hustle and bustle are the reason why he takes third place in the team behind Curry and Green in the net rating. Assuming the price is reasonable, the Warriors should do whatever it takes to re-sign Bazemore in the free agency this summer.
Damion Lee: While Lee shoots 39.7% out of 3-point range this season and has had some game-winning shots on his résumé, his greatest ability is his ability to outplay his brother-in-law, Curry. The Warriors would be wise to guarantee Lee’s $ 1.9 million contract for the next season. He’s probably not a top 8 player in a championship candidate, but he’s a quality option on the edge of rotation.
Kevon Looney: No one has improved their squad better over the past year than Looney, whose agonizing injury problems last season were so severe that some wondered if his NBA career was over. He’s a great starting center and reminds those who doubt why Steve Kerr has been into him for a long time. Looney’s talent of being in the right place at the right time, dribble handoffs with Curry, and setting textbook screens makes him a serious contender to start next season against James Wiseman. The Warriors expect Looney to pick up its $ 5.2 million player option for 2021-22.
Jordan Poole: When the Warriors exercised Poole’s $ 2.2 million third year option for the 2021-22 season in late December, they bet on a breakthrough. They got one after he returned from the G-League bubble in early March. In Poole’s last 31 games, he has hit double digits 22 times and reached the 20-point mark six times. It’s not difficult to imagine himself being seventh or eighth man knocking a competitor off the bench.
Juan Toscano-Anderson: The Warriors plan to convert Toscano-Anderson’s two-way deal into a standard NBA deal next week that should prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent this summer. Not only is Toscano-Anderson a helpful rotation player, he has a chance to become a fundamental part of the warriors’ long-term future. His view of the field, his versatility, his passing ability, his defensive IQ and his extensive energy make him an ideal role-player in Kerr’s system.
Andrew Wiggins: He fought at times as the Timberwolves’ option, but Wiggins goes well as a complementary piece to the Warriors. His 47.2% off-field and 38.2% 3-point range shots are both career highs. More of an on-ball stopper, Wiggins was a mainstay for an injury-ridden team that started every game this season. Wiggins has cemented its status as the warrior’s long-term response to small strikers.
Nico Mannion: Few doubt Mannion is an NBA host, but his shaky shooting and questionable defense have made it difficult for him to secure a rotation point. It’s hard to imagine he’s on the 15-man roster next season. Mannion’s best bet could be to return to the Warriors on a two-way contract, but even that seems unlikely. Golden State cannot afford to support Curry with a development project.
Mychal Mulder: Mulder’s lot reflects why life is so difficult for fringe gamblers. He’s got all the warriors asked of him as a catch-and-shoot specialist this season, but he’s by no means elite and has yet to understand the nuances of Kerr’s system. His biggest problem could be Golden State’s interest in getting Justinian Jessup – number 51 in November’s NBA draft – out of Australia next season. Jessup could fill Mulder’s role while adding more versatility at the same time.
Kelly Oubre Jr .: He’s not an ideal fit with the Warrior system, but Oubre could still get a lucrative free-hand offer from Golden State due to the salary cap. The warriors’ luxury tax situation prevents them from signing others of Oubre’s caliber. To bring Oubre back as a commodity, Golden State may offer him more than any other team in the free agency, but he falls into the “out” category as he is expected to sign with a team that can guarantee him a starting role.
Alen Smailagic: It was included as a long-term project with No. 39 of the 2019 NBA draft, but long-term projects must also show progress. Two years later, he is nowhere near able to contribute at the NBA level, leaving the Warriors with one option: to release him if his contract is no longer guaranteed at the end of the season.
MORE TO PROVE
Jordan Bell: The Warriors Bell are expected to sign a two-way deal in the coming days. He’s a fascinating reclamation project that unleashed some potential in his first stint with Golden State (2017-19) as an energetic big man from the bank. While Bell is unlikely to do enough next season to guarantee a 15-man roster spot, he could guarantee another two-way contract.
Eric Paschall: Before a hip injury that left him incapacitated for more than a month, Paschall struggled to break the rotation. He’s at his best as a small ball center, but that’s a niche role that can only be used in certain matchups. The warriors need him to be more reliable onward. Although his $ 1.8 million contract is guaranteed next season, Paschall may have a hard time finding minutes.
James Wiseman: He still has a chance to develop into an all-star center, but his recovery from knee surgery will wipe out his off-season and postpone his development in 2021-22. This could force the Warriors to wrap Wiseman in a deal for someone who can help them win a title as early as the next season. As great as Wiseman could get, his development doesn’t fit well with Curry’s championship window.
With their core of Curry, Thompson, and Green, the Warriors have at least nine players who could help them pursue a championship next season. The question is whether the Golden State can take another big step or two to cement its status as a contender.
Connor Letourneau is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @Con_Chron