Graphic by Jacob Hutchinson
Five days. That’s all that remains between now and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors taking the court for their first regular season game. Still, questions persist. Namely, what is going to happen with Patrick McCaw, who declined the team’s $1.71 million qualifying offer? And if he doesn’t re-sign, which seems likely, who will take the extra roster spot that he leaves behind?
At this point, it'd be pretty surprising if Patrick McCaw re-signed with the Warriors. Golden State has five days to pick a replacement, and tonight will be a critical part of that process.
— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) October 9, 2018
It’s crucial to understand what sort of flexibility the Warriors have in terms of signing players. If McCaw does not sign with the team, it means there are 13 out of 15 roster spots locked in with guaranteed contracts. Each NBA team has a pair of two-way contracts to hand out, and the Warriors have only used one of them, on Damion Lee, a shooting guard.
The Warriors’ current contracts are listed below:
Two-way contracts began in the 2017 offseason and essentially allowed teams to bump their roster from 15 to 17 players. They are non-guaranteed deals which allow an NBA team to move a player to and from their G-League and NBA teams. However, two-way contracts have a limit of 45 days, meaning a player on a two-way can’t spend more than 45 days (not games) with their NBA team. The deals can also only be given to players with four or fewer years of NBA service.
Outside of the two-way, the Warriors have given Exhibit 10 contracts to Tyler Ulis, Marcus Derrickson, Kendrick Nunn and Deyonta Davis (today). Davis’s signing today resulted in the team waiving Will Cherry, a point guard also on an Exhibit 10 deal, who will now play for the Warriors’ G-League team, the Santa Cruz Warriors. Alfonzo McKinnie and Danuel House were signed to non-guaranteed one-year training camp contracts.
What is an Exhibit 10 contract? It’s a one-year minimum deal that the team can turn into a two-way contract by the end of the preseason. If a player is waived by their NBA team, they can earn up to $50,000 in bonus money by remaining on their G-League roster for at least 60 days. That bonus money does not apply to the cap.
What this all means is that of the six players under non-guaranteed summer deals – Ulis, Derrickson, Davis, Nunn, McKinnie and House – the Warriors can only sign three at most. They very well may not use both of their guaranteed roster spots to give themselves leeway later in the year, or to hold out in case McCaw comes around.
So, out of those six players, who is the most likely to get a deal? Steve Kerr said at the start of training camp that the only roster spot open is on the wing. That eliminates Ulis, a point guard. Kerr said Nunn was a was “natural scorer” but is “undersized” as a two guard. McCaw brought length on the perimeter, something the team would likely look to match.
That leaves Derrickson, McKinnie, Davis and House. The latter three of those four have NBA experience – McKinnie with the Toronto Raptors, Davis with the Memphis Grizzlies and Boston Celtics, and House with the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. Kerr beamed about House and McKinnie early in the preseason.
“I think House and McKinney have very good size on the perimeter and can both step out and make a three,” Kerr said. “They’re both very good players. Both have NBA experience, I like that.”
Being that Davis was signed today, it’s unclear where he’ll fit in on the roster, but he played a decent amount for the Grizzlies last season and has a vast amount of potential. His pedigree, despite inconsistency, likely means he’ll get a chance with the Warriors at some point and could be a candidate for their final two-way contract.
Derrickson was a standout at Georgetown University, where he shot an astounding 46.5 percent from three-point range and averaged 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in his junior season, but went undrafted. He is an almost certain G-League candidate, but his summer performances have been encouraging, and it’s possible he could earn the team’s second two-way contract if it’s not given out immediately. He was also given a start against the Sacramento Kings and has performed solidly.
In his 12.5 minutes per game over four preseason games, Derrickson is averaging 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds with more than a three per game. His 5/13 shooting from three is better than his overall field goal percentage (34.7 percent), which is probably a sign of him pressing in limited minutes. It suggests that he has length and potential on the wing, but is probably best suited and most likely headed to the G-League for most, if not all of the season.
What this suggests is that either House or McKinnie are likely to win a guaranteed roster spot. The other may take the team’s two-way spot, but regardless, the Warriors will need to add another player to the roster, and those two, while not locks, look the most NBA-ready.
House has absurd athletic ability:
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/69jS8tr1dd
— NBA (@NBA) October 6, 2018
However, House’s shooting touch from outside is questionable. He shot just 25.9 percent on three-point attempts with the Suns last season and has missed the only two shots he’s taken behind the arc this preseason. What House does have is a high motor and a spark plug capability that is sometimes necessary to energize a second unit. He hasn’t wasted shots (5-for-10) and has a 6’7″ athletic frame that he can use to defend on the perimeter.
McKinnie has yet to make a three this preseason, but he’s been efficient with his other shots, shooting 53.3 percent from the field. At 6’8″, he provides the exact sort of length the Warriors are looking for, and he’s rebounded the ball well. In his 14 minutes per game, he’s averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds on much more efficient shooting than Derrickson from everywhere but three.
In my opinion, Alfonzo McKinnie and Danuel House are the top candidates for a guaranteed roster spot should Patrick McCaw not re-sign. The Warriors need wings, and they've been impressed with those two in training camp.
— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) October 9, 2018
For a team that’s looking to go after its third straight championship, NBA-readiness, perimeter athleticism/defense and three-point shooting are probably the most important traits – in that order – that the Warriors will be looking for. Keeping that lens in mind, it probably makes the most sense to give McKinnie one of the two guaranteed roster spots and hand House or Davis the last of the team’s two-way contracts. One of House or Davis will probably be sent to the G-League outright.
While an injury to one of Quinn Cook, Steph Curry or Shaun Livingston could open up a point guard spot for someone like Ulis, the Warriors have plenty of point forwards in Durant, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, who can bring the ball up the floor.
It’s more likely that wing replacements will remain as the first priority if the Warriors catch the injury bug, which is why having a wing player on a two-way contract and in one of the two guaranteed slots makes the most sense.