Damion Lee and the Golden State Warriors expect to agree on a contract that was a long time coming. The organization’s decision to keep him is a testament to his worth heading into the future.
As a result of being hard-capped for the foreseeable future, every decision the Golden State Warriors make likely carries more weight than usual. If they do everything in their power to hold onto players outside of their core (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, etc.) it speaks volumes. That must mean this front office sees someone as vital to the future.
When Golden State reluctantly cut Marquese Chriss in order to sign Damion Lee to a guaranteed contract, it signaled just that. Damion Lee brings a skillset, and most importantly, a mindset that will be vital for the Warriors future.
On skills alone, Lee and the Warriors are expected to agree on a deal that was rumored to be a long time coming. He is a 6’5 wing that has averaged a respectable 41 percent from the field, and a solid shooter from beyond the arc, with a 35 percent career average. In today’s NBA, the wing position is arguably the most valued position on the court.
You have a franchise superstar at any position, but in a league that has undergone a three-point revolution with more action being spread outside, wing players have increasingly become coveted. And last year’s NBA Finals, where the Warriors were lacking in that area, is proof of how much Damion Lee could have helped. It’s not rocket science to see why they are agreeing to a guaranteed deal.
What is notable is that the roster casualty ended up being Marquese Chriss, a young lottery pick that Golden State, in any other situation, would have easily kept on the roster to develop. But Golden State bit the bullet and was true to their word, making sure Lee sticks around long term.
Why is he worth it? Because after being a journeyman and long-time two-way player, Lee chose to bet on himself at any given opportunity, whether it was G-League or the NBA. And despite the Warriors being cemented as a dynasty as a result of their three-point shots or testament to ball movement, above all else they pride themselves on culture.
And amidst a “lost season” and looking onwards to next season, it’s imperative to identify the key players that are destined to stick around. That has been among the priorities to date, and with Damion Lee stepping up as of late (he’s scored double-digit points in nine of the last 11 games) it was proof that he can be called upon now and into the future.
So while some might quibble as to why Lee was worth the roster casualty of releasing someone with Marquese Chriss, anyone who has recognized how Lee’s impact on this team goes beyond the box score and career averages understands why the decision was made.
Golden State continues to embrace the moniker of “Strength in Numbers.” It’s not just about signing any 13th, 14th, or 15th player to fill out the roster, it’s about finding the right one. And with his new contract on the way soon, Damion Lee looks like one of those players from now into the future.