It’s hard to believe but just two weeks ago the Warriors were celebrating their NBA championship by puffing cigars, spraying champagne and chanting an explicit-laden cheer at Draymond Green in the visiting locker room of TD Garden in Boston.
But the NBA offseason schedule waits for no one — not even the champs.
And so with the celebratory parade and draft in the rearview mirror, the Warriors front office and some of its young stars are looking ahead to what’s next.
Free agency officially kicked off 3 p.m. Thursday, but NBA Twitter lit up hours before the window opened after news broke that Kevin Durant requested a trade out of Brooklyn exactly three years to the day he left the Warriors. It seems unlikely Durant would return to the Bay Area, but at 34, Durant is one of the most coveted NBA trade targets in NBA history. The acquisition of the superstar would make any team an automatic contender for a title.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have nine free agents, including Gary Payton II and Kevon Looney, two players the team has expressed interest in bringing back.
But while general manager Bob Myers and his staff monitor the free agency chaos, other Warriors players and staff will turn their focus to Summer League, where players, like Payton did last year, can make a case as to why they deserve a spot on an NBA roster.
Before a four-game slate in Las Vegas, the Warriors will host the fourth annual California Classic at Chase Center this weekend. Beginning Saturday, Golden State is scheduled to play three games in the summer showcase on their homecourt, which also features the Kings, Heat and Lakers.
Golden State will be led by Santa Cruz Warriors coach Seth Cooper for the California Classic, which will be headlined by Moses Moody. Warriors director of player development Jama Mahlalela will hold the reins for the Las Vegas portion of the exhibition action.
Fans hoping to catch a glimpse of James Wiseman will have to wait until potentially later this month after the Warriors ruled the former No. 2 overall pick out of the California Classic as he continues to build up his conditioning after a knee injury forced him to miss all of last season.
This year’s first- and second-round draft picks, Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Ryan Rollins, respectively, and Jonathan Kuminga will also not participate in the first leg of Summer League. Baldwin is recovering from an ankle injury and Rollins will miss all of Summer League with a stress fracture in his foot discovered this week during his physical. Meanwhile, Kuminga is home with his family and expected to join the team in Las Vegas.
Here’s what you need to know about the Warriors’ Summer League:
3 big questions
Will we see James Wiseman?
All eyes are on Wiseman this summer whether he plays or not.
Wiseman’s Summer League status remains up in the air as of Thursday despite the 7-foot center saying he feels great. The Warriors are targeting Wiseman to play in the latter part of the Las Vegas showcase as he continues to improve his conditioning and test his surgically repaired knee, but nothing is guaranteed.
Given Wiseman’s history with setbacks, it’s no surprise the Warriors are playing it extra safe with his return. But he remains one of the biggest question marks on the Warriors’ roster.
Though Wiseman showed potential as a rookie, he was also still clearly adjusting to the NBA and the Warriors’ offense when his season came to an abrupt end due to a meniscus injury. Wiseman started 27 of his 39 games and averaged 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per contest.
Whether the Warriors re-sign Looney will determine just how quickly Golden State needs Wiseman to return and make an impact. Returning to game action this month could be pivotal in his rehabilitation and development processes.
Wiseman recently admitted that he feels the pressure of being a lottery pick who’s first two seasons hadn’t gone according to plan. But he’s doing his best to block out the noise.
“I don’t let that faze me,” he said. “Especially as a basketball player, I just hoop, that’s what I do.”
How will second-year players step up?
Moody was caught off guard for a moment this week when a reporter pointed out that he’s considered a veteran on the Warriors’ Summer League roster.
“It’s kind of weird for you to call me a vet. I’m still a rookie in my mind,” Moody said. “It’s cool, it’s a new atmosphere, it’s a new way of looking at things.”
Moody and Kuminga, two players the Warriors view as valuable pieces for the future, played meaningful postseason minutes for Golden State. But they didn’t see near the amount of action as other lottery picks. They’ll continue to take their next step in their development in Summer League action, where they’ll take on bigger roles.
“They get to be more of the main guys on the team, have the ball in their hands more, play more, get to do a little bit of everything, and I think for their development that really healthy especially two guys that are really, really talented and really skilled,” Cooper said. “It’ll be great to have that opportunity and also as a development piece for them moving forward.”
Expect Moody, 20, and Kuminga, 19, to take on a larger leadership role within the team this summer, too.
How close is Patrick Baldwin Jr. to full strength?
The health and availability of Baldwin, the No. 28 pick of this year’s draft, remains a mystery.
Baldwin has a high upside, but his lingering ankle issue is a slight cause for concern. The former five-star recruit out of high school is coming back from a left ankle injury that limited him to just 11 games during a disappointing freshman year campaign with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee last season.
Baldwin said he was “at the brink of” being full strength and working through the final hurdles to be cleared. His rehabilitation process includes a balance of on-court activities like shooting and non-contact drills as well as some off-the-court rehab.
“Just kind of testing [his ankle] out right now seeing how it reacts to this type of workload and just kind of take it from there,” Baldwin said this week.
He won’t play over the holiday weekend, but there’s a chance he could suit up for the Warriors in Las Vegas. That would give Baldwin a chance to showcase the versatile skillset that garnered him national attention out of high school.
Warriors Summer League schedule
California Classic at Chase Center — all games on NBA TV
Saturday, July 2 — Kings at Warriors, 4:30 p.m. PT
Sunday, July 3 — Lakers at Warriors, 4:30 p.m. PT
Tuesday, July 5 — Heat at Warriors, 12 p.m. PT
NBA Las Vegas Summer League
Friday, July 8 — Knicks vs. Warriors, 5 p.m. PT on ESPN2
Sunday, July 10 — Spurs vs. Warriors, 4:30 p.m. PT on NBA TV
Tuesday, July 12 — Celtics vs. Warriors, 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPN
Friday, July 15 — Thunder vs. Warriors, 4 p.m. PT on ESPN
Player name — Position, age, height, weight, last team
Yudai Baba — Guard, 26, 6-foot-5, 198 lbs, Alvark Tokyo (Japan)
Patrick Baldwin Jr. — Forward, 19, 6-foot-9, 215 lbs, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Gabriel Chachashvili — Center, 22, 6-foot-10, 220, Hapoel Galil Elyon (Israel)
Jacob Gilyard — Guard, 23, 5-foot-9, 160 lbs, University of Richmond
Ryan Hawkins — Forward, 25, 6-foot-7, 222 lbs, Creighton University
Justinian Jessup — Guard, 24, 6-foot-7, 202 lbs, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
Jonathan Kuminga — Forward, 19, 6-foot-7, 225 lbs, Golden State Warriors
Kalob Ledoux —Guard, 24, 6-foot-4, 190 lbs, Santa Cruz Warriors
Selom Mawugbe — Center, 23, 6-foot-10, 230 lbs, Santa Cruz Warriors
Moses Moody — Guard, 20, 6-foot-5, 211 lbs, Golden State Warriors
Alex Morales — Guard, 24, 6-foot-6, 195 lbs, Wagner College
JD Notae — Guard, 23, 6-foot-2, 195 lbs, Arkansas
Joel Ntambwe — Center, 23, 6-foot-8, 225 lbs, Delaware Blue Coats
Lester Quiñones — Guard, 21, 6-foot-5, 208 lbs, University of Memphis
Ryan Rollins — Guard, 19, 6-foot-4, 180 lbs, University of Toledo
Gui Santos — Forward, 20, 6-foot-8, 209 lbs, Minas (Brazil)
Dustin Sleva — Forward, 26, 6-foot-8, 224 lbs, Paris Basketball (France)
Jarrod Uthoff — Forward, 29, 6-foot-9, 221 lbs, SeaHorses Mikawa (Japan)
Quinndary Weatherspoon — Guard, 25, 6-foot-3, 205 lbs, Golden State Warriors (two-way)
Payton Willis — Guard, 24, 6-foot-4, 200 lbs, University of Minnesota
James Wiseman — Center, 21, 7-foot, 240 lbs, Golden State Warriors
*Note: Hawkins and Sleva will play only in San Francisco. Ntambwe and Uthoff will only be part of the Las Vegas portion of Summer League.
Contributed by local news sources