The Warriors have nine players who are expected to hit the free agent market come Sunday. One of those is Kevon Looney, who had a breakout season with Golden State and emerged as the team’s best center during the post season.
Looney, 23, is due to become an unrestricted free agent, after spending his first four seasons with the Warriors. Selected with the 30th pick in the 2015 draft, it took Looney some time to adjust to the NBA game as he recovered from multiple hip surgeries. But Looney’s market value reached an all-time high during Game 6 the Western Conference semifinals this year, when he dropped 14 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block in 20 minutes.
The win knocked Houston out of the playoffs, and it may have knocked Looney up their board of free agent targets. Though working with extremely limited cap space, the Rockets may be targeting the Warriors center with the mid-level exception ($5.7 million) annually, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.
As it stands, [the Rockets] have no cap room and are limited to the midlevel exception (annual salary starting at $5.7 million).
A source with knowledge of the Rockets’ plans said Danny Green, Jeremy Lamb, Al-Farouq Aminu, DeAndre Jordan, Brook Lopez and Kevon Looney are also possible targets.
Looney is expected to be fully healthy for the start of training camp after sustaining a fracture to his first coastal cartilage, and the Warriors are expected to make an aggressive push to re-sign him after Steve Kerr called him a “foundational piece” last month.
The mid-level probably won’t be enough to sway Looney, but if someone else offers him a more lucrative contract, the Warriors will have a much tougher decision on their hands.