I began wondering, was the whole ordeal worth it? Would it have been better to just let Kevin Durant walk away for nothing?
Remember, that the Warriors had the belief that they couldn't let Kevin Durant leave for nothing. So they decided to trade for D'Angello Russell, but he wasn't free. The Warriors had to trade:
- A top 20 protected pick to the Brooklyn Nets. Given the Warriors terrible record this year, that will revert to a 2025 second round pick.
- Andre Iguodola to the Memphis Grizzlies.
- A first round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2024 (1-4 protected), falling to 2025 (#1 protected), falling to 2026 unprotected.
- Andrew Wiggins
- First round pick 2021 (1-3 protected), falling to 2022 unprotected
- 2022 second round pick
- Losing Andre Iguodola (minimum 1 year, who knows beyond that)
- Gaining Andrew Wiggins
- Converting a 2024 first round draft pick into a (likely) 2021 lottery first round draft pick.
- Converting a 2025 second round draft pick into a 2022 second round draft pick.
- their own 2024 first round draft pick
- their own 2025 second round draft pick
- Andre Iguodola, re-signed or traded for additional assets
- more cap space
- the Wolves 2021 first round draft pick
- the Wolves 2022 second round draft pick
- Andrew Wiggins
- less cap space
To me, it's not entirely clear its a net win. The 2024-2025 drafts are so far off, it's hard to really tell if they are better assets than the Wolves draft picks. The Wolves are likely to be a lottery team in 2021, perhaps making their draft pick more valuable short term. And remember they still have their own 2020 draft pick, which will be a (likely) top 5 lottery pick.
The big question mark is really Andrew Wiggins and the salary cap space. Is Andrew Wiggins better than whatever the Warriors could have acquired via the free agent market in 2020? The free agent market for 2020 is considered quite thin, so perhaps its a reasonable gamble to get back into contention.
I can't help but look at the 2020 free agent market and think a Danilo Gallinari might fit in well at small forward for the Warriors (or Gordon Hayward if he opts out), and not cost quite as much money. But signing free agents are never a guaranteed thing (see 2019-2020 Knicks of course). Who knows who will be available (Gallinari was apparently offered an extension by the Miami Heat in his almost trade to them) and who knows if the Warriors would be considered a destination after finishing about last in the league.
And we can't forget, the Warriors may have wanted to make a run at a huge free agent in 2021 (i.e. Giannis). But they may be unable to do so unless they unload Andrew Wiggins' contract.
But then again, by 2021, with only two years left on the contract, perhaps his contract will be more easily dumpable, especially with the 2021 draft pick from the Wolves.
After thinking about it a bit more, perhaps the goal of fighting for 2021 free agents is part of the plan. They would prefer to not have to sign a decent 2020 free agent (think a Danilo Gallinari) to a 4 year contract (3 years after 2020-2021 season). They would much rather have Andrew Wiggins with only 2 years left on his contract. If Andrew Wiggins works out, great! If he doesn't, with only two years left on the contract, his contract is now more tradeable.