May 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) is introduced before game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Have They Become A Desirable Free-Agent Destination?

Everybody loves the Golden State Warriors. Well, most people.

With the rise of Stephen Curry, a new arena in the works and a front office that has taken great pains to overcome the franchise’s mediocre history, some have speculated that the Warriors may soon become a possible destination for the NBA’s top talent in the years to come. For good reason – with Curry and Klay Thompson anchoring the backcourt, Golden State boasts an usual wealth of young talent that would complement the strengths of a certain All-Star big man, should he set his sights north of Los Angeles or Houston.

Excluding potential sign-and-trades, Golden State’s best possible outcome for the offseason would involve Carl Landry opting in on his $4 million player option (unlikely, given how much he could fetch on the open market) and resigning Jarrett Jack to a four-year mid-level exception (also unlikely, as he would represent an upgrade as a starter for the cash-flush Dallas Mavericks). Landry and Jack contributed valuable minutes to the Warriors’ postseason run, but neither would qualify as a big-name “get” for owner Joe Lacob, who has never minced words about wanting to land a prominent free agent.

As I mentioned earlier, “getting” a big free agent this offseason would require a sign-and-trade that would likely include either Thompson or Harrison Barnes (and possibly Andrew Bogut). The addition of a Dwight Howard or Andre Igoudala – both free agents this offseason – would certainly benefit Golden State’s reputation as a free-agent destination, but their effect on the team’s long-term outlook remains somewhat unclear.

After all, if the Warriors do somehow manage to retain both Jack and Landry, they would have one of the deepest second units in the league (Brandon Rush, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli with spot contributions from Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Kent Bazemore). Curry, David Lee and Bogut have all undergone significant surgeries in the past two years – are the hypothetical contributions of a Howard or Igoudala worth a decline rotation depth? Possibly, but it’s a gamble.

Management would stand to have a better chance in landing a marquee free agent after next season, when Bogut, Biedrins and Jefferson come off the books, and All-Stars like Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Pau Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins and LeBron James become available. While the Warriors are unlikely to obtain player of James’ caliber (or even someone like Dwyane Wade or Carmelo Anthony), the amount of cap space they’ll have should be enough to net a second-tier player.

Moving forward, the Warriors have a clear foundation that will eventually support management’s efforts to chase the league’s most popular players. The reputational strength and infrastructure isn’t quite there, but after years of disappointment, the Warriors will finally have a solid core of young, affordable players playing in a new arena in one of the country’s most cosmopolitan cities. They may not be a destination yet, but they’re off to a hell of a start.

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