Now that the Golden State Warriors have Kevin Durant -- which still sounds crazy to say -- the already near-impossible task of guarding them just got even more daunting. This is now a "super team" in every respect, but, as always, the construction of super-teams comes at a cost, and that cost is typically depth. The Warriors are no exception to this fact, as in the wake of the Durant deal they have parted ways with no less than six rotation players in Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush and LeAndro Barbosa.
Before you shed any tears for the Dubs, bear in mind that they have already secured the very cheap, and very capable replacement services of David West and Zaza Pachulia, both 0f whom still have plenty left in the tank -- particularly Pachulia, a perfect fit for Golden State who started 69 games in Dallas last year while averaging 8.6 points and 9.4 rebounds.
With Pachulia likely to start alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Durant and Draymond Green, and with West joining Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston on the bench, the Warriors still, obviously, have an incredible eight-man rotation. After that, however, it starts to get pretty thin, with guards Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw, and big men Kevon Looney, James Michael-McAdoo and Damian Jones giving the Warriors 13 players currently under contract for a 15-man roster.
As tempting as it is to think those final roster spots don't matter when you're running out a super-team, the Warriors, of all teams, know better. Golden State won 73 games last year both because it was front-loaded with stars and because its back end was filled out with players like Speights and Barbosa, both of whom didn't just eat minutes, but were actually capable of carrying the second unit for small stretches. And think about a guy like Rush, who stepped up huge when Harrison Barnes went down for an extended period early in the season. Stars get tired. They get hurt. They need rest, and security behind them. Those last roster spots matter.
So the question becomes, who gets them?
You'd have to assume the Warriors will look to fill these spots with perimeter players, given their small-ball tendencies and diminished depth at the 2 and 3 spots with the departures of Barnes, Barbosa and Rush -- Clark split time between point guard and shooting guard last year and showed flashes of promise in the Warriors' system, and McCaw is a second-round pick that the organization is very high on, but it's hard to imagine him getting any kind of significant playing time on this team.
With all this in mind, here are some still available veteran players the Warriors would be smart to pursue (assuming J.R. Smith not being willing to take the one-year minimum with the Warriors just because they said wearing shirts is optional):
This is my favorite option for the Warriors if they can convince Foye to play for the minimum contract. There are still teams with cap space out there in need of a veteran guard and Foye fills that role perfectly. Foye is good enough to throw him into the regular rotation with the main core of the team. You can play him next to Stephen Curry. You can play him next to Shaun Livingston. Foye played the majority of his minutes with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the shooting guard position, but you could throw him at the 1 and having Livingston play the 2 if you want. He gives you a ton of options.
Defensively, he's not great but he can be solid in the team concept. Offensively, he's a real shooter who shoots 36.9 percent from three for his career despite going 30 percent last season. He's not a big playmaker but he's not going to turn the ball over a ton either. He probably wouldn't be the scorer that Leandro Barbosa was the last two seasons, but he can give them much more versatility than the Brazilian Blur did.
Two-time NBA champion Norris Cole could be a very savvy pickup for the Warriors if they convince him playing for the minimum could make him three-time NBA champion. He's a scrappy, pesky defender who can put pressure on the ball for 94 feet. He's really cut down on his sloppiness with the ball over the last two years and while he's not a huge playmaker for others, he can be a steady hand in running the offense in the second unit. Much like Foye, he'd allow for the versatility of playing Livingston at the 1 or the 2.
The tricky part (aside from convincing him to take the minimum) is making sure you can trust his jumper. He's been a good mid-range shooter for years, hitting over 40 percent of those shots for his career, but his 3-point shooting is just north of 32 percent. From 2012-2014, Cole shot 34.9 percent from deep. Other than those two seasons, he's been a 30.7 percent shooter from deep. Could the Warriors unlock his shooting stroke?
Gee is not an outside shooter and that fact may be a big deterrent in the Warriors wanting to bring him aboard. Maybe they'd feel they can turn around his shot and just make him a league average guy, but he shot 28.3 percent from three last year and is 32.7 percent for his career. Don't look to his mid-range game either as someone who can be fixed easily and just extended a couple of feet on the floor because he's a 32.3 percent shooter for his career from 16-23 feet. You're adding Gee for his defense and athleticism.
He's still a freak athlete with incredible bounce and a quick first step. He can use that on both ends of the floor and would be a guy who gets out and finishes in transition for a Warriors team looking to push the pace. He's never been a guy to get big minutes on a good team, but you don't need him for big minutes. You just need him to be effective in small doses, mostly in garbage time.
Nobody loves ring chasing like Jason Terry. He's three years away from two full decades in the NBA, and he's had a nice little revival of his career over his last two years with the Houston Rockets. Terry isn't giving you speed and athleticism anymore. He's not going to give you a ton of defense either. But he can still shoot the ball and he's never afraid to immerse himself in the team culture and buy into what your team wants to be.
Terry spent the majority of last season playing point guard, but he's fine being at either guard position. He is solid with the ball in his hands and playing off the ball to properly space the floor is second nature to him. He's a career 37.9 percent shooter from 3-point range, too. Plus, you know he'll get a tattoo of Kevin Durant holding the Larry O'Brien trophy on his arm, so you're getting great buzz on social media with Terry on your team.
Anderson is a seven-year veteran in the NBA, and that doesn't count the four years he spent from ages 25-28 playing overseas and in the D-League. He's a potential 3-and-D guy who has always seemed like a better outside shooter than his percentages reflect. He's a career 34.5 percent shooter from downtown. Anderson turns 34 years old in October, so he's definitely not a guy you'd plan on adding to your core for a long time. And he did just have a 13-game season with the Washington Wizards that was derailed by ankle surgery.
Still, Anderson can play, he can score, and he can maybe be a light version of what Brandon Rush was for the Warriors. He's not the shooter Rush is, but with the looks you get on the Warriors, he can be an above average 3-point shooter.
Markel Brown would be the cheap, young option for a team hoping to develop another Ian Clark-level rotation player. Maybe he's someone you can plug him in with main rotation players when Steve Kerr is feeling squirrely with his lineup decisions. Mostly, you're trying to turn a potential scrap heap guy into a valuable weapon of some type in short bursts. The main difference between Brown and Clark is obviously the shooting. When Clark joined the Warriors in 2015, they knew he could shoot a little and that would help him fit into the attack. He was a 34.4 percent 3-point shooter and was a guy definitely capable of being above league average in that department.
Brown can't really shoot at all. He's 29.7 percent in two years of NBA play from deep -- although he did become a decent mid-range shooter (36.6 percent up from 27.9 percent) this past season. So maybe there's a likelihood of improvement in that area. What they'd be getting in Brown is a crazy athlete with the potential to be a plus defender as they work on that jumper. He's not a big-time veteran presence like the rest of the guys on this list, but maybe he's another project they want to undertake to give them a cheap option in the future too (until he outplays the minimum option).
Putting Lance Stephenson on the Warriors could represent the highest of rewards and the most destructive of risks, but that's what makes it so fascinating. This would be a complete heat-check by the Warriors' front office, believing that their skill development, culture and locker room could right the ship with Stephenson. He's been a spotty presence on teams in the past, but his game completely fell apart as soon as he left the Indiana Pacers. The Charlotte Hornets didn't want him after a year, and the Los Angeles Clippers moved him with a pick to the Memphis Grizzlies just to get rid of him.
He rebounded nicely this past season, shooting 38.5 percent from deep after having the worst 3-point shooting season in NBA history the previous year (17.5 percent on 105 attempts). He's the versatile type of wing the Warriors love. He's been a part of good defensive units in Indiana. But also, putting his personality with Draymond's personality could be the cinematic slow motion cigarette flick into a pool of flammable liquids. It just depends on how bulletproof the Warriors believe themselves to be at this point.