Storyline: Kevon Looney Free Agency

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Looney wanted to entertain other more lucrative offers with teams that could offer a larger role. Though he also fielded interest from the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks, Looney found it more appealing to stay with the Warriors because of his ongoing development and the team’s recent championship success. Looney has also set himself up for potentially another breakout season that could yield more offseason interest next summer.

After the Championship Parade in Oakland on Tuesday, Looney joined Chris Townsend, Matt Steinmetz and Daryle “The Guru” Johnson on 95.7 The Game to discuss how he’s approaching his first crack at free agency. “I mean, this is my first time experiencing it, so I’m just trying to listen to people around me,” Looney said on 95.7 The Game. “I’ve got some great vets on this team to talk to that have been through this situation that I’m going to lean on and my agents and stuff like that and do what’s best for me.”

That’s where the complications reside. Under league rules, the Warriors can’t offer Looney more than a starting salary of $2.3 million this offseason. He’s unrestricted. If he keeps playing like this, if he keeps impacting the game on the season’s biggest stage, someone may toss an offer at him he can’t refuse, especially if they’re aware of this fact: at 22, he’s still the youngest player on the Warriors roster. “It could be that you don’t pick up the option, he phones it in, everybody’s upset,” Myers said. “But in these situations, you’d rather be proved wrong, right? Because the way he’s playing right now, he’s helping us win playoff games. I’ll take that any day.”

“There’s not a lot of money on this market. You weigh the options. If it’s one of those situations where you’re going to a bad team for a couple extra dollars, maybe you don’t want to do that. But he’s earned himself the right to weigh his options.” Said Looney: “My agent brings it up sometimes, tells me the free-agent market changes every year. The money’s not always the same. He talks about this summer might be a slow summer money-wise. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the summer, but I’m prepared for everything.”

The Warriors have to evaluate if third-year forward Kevon Looney (unrestricted free agent) … [is] worth developing at the pace they would like and worth the price to counteract any possible outside interest. “They always tell me if somebody comes and gives me a better offer, you should take it. But this is a team where it’s all about winning,” Looney said. “I’d love to be here and be a part of this. It’s something to think about, for sure.”

The Warriors decided to pick up the option of second-year center Damian Jones and elected not to do the same for Looney because of what amounted to a numbers game. Looney’s option, which was worth about $2.2 million, would have put the team further into the luxury tax for next season. That meant they had to choose between the two big men, making Looney the odd man out. “I mean I wasn’t shocked,” Looney said of the decision. “I kind of knew going into it what was going to happen. I wasn’t surprised.”
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October 16, 2018 | 3:39 pm EDT Update
In China, he was unable to communicate, and therefore out of his element. A player from another team taught Whiteside how to greet: “Wǒ shì nǐ bàba”—hi, nice to meet you. He said it to everyone at home, on the road, in the gym. There were never any “you, too’s” in return, only blank stares. Well into the season, Whiteside found out from his team’s general manager that he was actually saying “I’m your daddy.” Whiteside immediately recognized the player in the layup line a year later, after he had left for Lebanon again, then returned back to China. He wishes he had dunked on him. Wǒ shì nǐ bàba.
That progress stalled in the 2017-18 season. And it felt impossible to get in gear from the sidelines. “Especially,” Whiteside says, “when you can see a game and you know you can help.” We’re settled inside now, sitting in leather chairs made for 7-footers. Last season’s body language experts would be picking him apart: slumped shoulders, looking in the distance as he’s talking. “Maybe our record would have been different. We would have been a whole different seed in the playoffs.” He knows he was sluggish after missing so much time—28 games total, nine in March. Less agile, slower, and trying to catch up on Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra’s schemes. I ask if he feared being forgotten again. “I can avoid that,” he says. Avoid what? “Falling back to people not knowing.”