- The Golden State Warriors landed All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets.
- The Warriors had to trade Andre Iguodala and four draft picks to land Russell.
- While Russell will fill a need on a shallow Warriors team, many think he is not a long-term fit on the roster and will be used in a later deal to fill other needs.
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For the third time in four years, the Golden State Warriors were able to land a star free agent that few saw coming. This time, it happened as one star left the roster.
With Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors to join the Brooklyn Nets, the Warriors were able to pull off a sign-and-trade with the Nets to acquire All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell. The Nets had relinquished Russell’s rights to make room for Kyrie Irving and Durant.
To pull off the move, however, the Warriors had to sacrifice a lot. According to reports, the Warriors traded Andre Iguodala along with a protect first-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies to make the necessary salary-cap room for Russell. The Warriors also traded a first-round pick to the Nets in the sign-and-trade.
The Warriors’ retool on the fly is both intriguing, fascinating, and confusing.
With Durant leaving and Klay Thompson likely to miss much of the 2019-20 season while recovering from a torn ACL, the Warriors were talent-deprived. Injuries in the postseason highlighted the Warriors’ lack of depth. They’re even more shallow now.
Landing Russell, a 23-year-old All-Star who can create his shot and is underrated as a passer, is a big win in that sense. He’ll give the Warriors more shooting and scoring, and take some pressure off of Stephen Curry.
But Russell is somewhere between a neutral and negative defensive presence. The Warriors’ defence already slipped last season. Losing Durant, Thompson, and Iguodala and adding Russell won’t help.
Furthermore, when Thompson is healthy, the Warriors will have a tricky situation to manage. Thompson could slide up to playing small forward alongside Curry and Russell, but he’d be out of position. Russell is overqualified to come off the bench (and would likely bristle at the suggestion).
It’s possible that the Warriors, then, plan to move Russell down the line. The New York Times’ Marc Stein suggested this on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Monday.
“D’Angelo Russell doesn’t fit there whatsoever,” Stein said. He added: “They just wanted to make sure that they did not see Kevin Durant … walk out the door for nothing. They got a 23-year-old All-Star, and they will trade him. It’s just a matter of when. Do they keep him for a full season? Do they even trade him at midseason?”
ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested the Warriors could try to trade Russell for “value.” That could mean the Warriors eventually swing Russell in a deal to recoup some draft picks and perhaps get another rotation-worthy wing player.
The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami wrote: “Maybe Russell is the key piece that keeps the Warriors competitive in 2019-20. Or maybe he plays so well that the Warriors can trade him for something even better in the future. Maybe he’s the wild-card piece that sets the Warriors up for multiple interesting options down the road.”
The Warriors have been aggressive in improving their team any chance they could. Last season, they signed DeMarcus Cousins to the midlevel exception when his market collapsed, adding a fifth All-Star that didn’t necessarily fit their team, but marked an upgrade at the center position.
The Warriors will need Russell’s shooting and playmaking when the season begins. But from the sounds of it, he may be a piece of the puzzle that will be solved down the road.
- Read more:
- Stephen Curry reportedly learned of Kevin Durant’s free-agency move on the way from China to meet him but continued anyway to say thank you to his former teammate for their time together
- The Knicks’ all-in gamble on free agency backfired spectacularly, and now they’re forced to pivot to a long, uncertain path
- NBA free agency exploded in a wild first day. Here are the biggest signings and the best remaining players.
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