With the Golden State Warriors losing Klay Thompson for the season due to a torn Achilles tendon, they are unexpectedly scrambling to fill out their rotation. Their first move was to use their $17 million trade exception to bring in Kelly Oubre. Oubre will certainly help, but he’s not really a replacement for Thompson. He’s more of a 3-4, and Thompson is a perimeter-based wing.
Golden State is expected to apply, and be approved, for a Disabled Player Exception (DPE) for Thompson. When a player is determined by an independent panel to be more likely than not to miss the entire season, a team can get a DPE. The amount of that DPE is for the lesser of half the player’s salary or the equivalent amount of the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. In the Warriors case for Thompson, it equals the latter at an amount of $9,258,000.
The DPE is fairly restrictive in how a team can use it. The Warriors will be able to sign, trade or claim off waivers one player for an amount that fits into the DPE. The key is that player can only get a one-year contract, without options.
That limits the player pool, but there are still solid players Golden State can target.
The first challenge for the Warriors is to get approval from ownership to add to an already substantial luxury tax bill. The addition of Oubre pushed the Warriors’ luxury tax payment to over $100 million. Any additional salary pushes that bill even further past the historic level it’s at already. It’s also important to note that the DPE is simply an exception to add a player. It doesn’t offer any sort of salary relief for Thompson, nor does it add a roster spot.
With free agency opening Friday, expect the Warriors to possibly be in the market for free agents using the DPE. However, who will be available and who is willing to sign just a one-year deal isn’t clear at the moment. What is clear is that there are five players Golden State could trade for using the DPE. All five fit slightly differently, but could help fill out the team’s rotation.
Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons: $7.7 million
Rose would be a nice addition for the Warriors as a backup guard behind Stephen Curry. He’d be a different look from Curry on the second unit, as Rose is more scorer than shooter. Rose has embraced a reserve role in recent years, and he could contend for Sixth Man of the Year with Golden State. And the cost to acquire him wouldn’t be too high, as the Pistons are in asset-collection mode.
Reggie Bullock, New York Knicks: $4.2 million
The Knicks recently made Bullock’s contract fully guaranteed, but he would probably be better with the Warriors. New York is in rebuilding mode, so getting a small asset for Bullock would be a good play. For Golden State, Bullock would slide in as Thompson-lite. He’s roughly the same size and he’s also a good shooter. That makes him an ideal fit for the Warriors.
Doug McDermott, Indiana Pacers, $7.3 million:
McDermott doesn’t help replace Thompson’s perimeter defense, but he could fill in some of the shooting that was lost. He’d be a backup 3-4 behind Draymond Green and Oubre. In the Warriors’ small-ball lineups, McDermott could be the designated floor spacer next to Green. That gives him value, despite the positional fit being different from Thompson’s.
P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets, $7.9 million:
The Rockets look like they are selling off players for flexibility and future draft picks, and the Warriors could pounce. Like McDermott, Tucker isn’t a perfect positional replacement for Thompson, but he would bring some great roster versatility to Golden State. Tucker would allow the Warriors to play a lot of small ball, anchored by the NBA’s two best small-ball bigs with him and Green. And Tucker is nice insurance should Green continue to suffer from nagging injuries throughout the season.
Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers: $8 million
It would be weird for two division rivals and Western Conference contenders to link up on a trade like this, but the Clippers have sent some signals they are willing to discuss Williams in trades. Like Rose, Williams would be an anchor for the Warriors’ reserve groups. Given his age, and potentially being on the outs in L.A., he’d also come fairly cheap in terms of trade assets. Williams could win yet another Sixth Man of the Year award coming off the bench for a contending Golden State squad.
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