At the start of last season, Steve Kerr labeled Kevon Looney "the moral compass of our team". By the postseason, the veteran center was pivotal in the Golden State Warriors' seven-game first-round series win over the Sacramento Kings.
Yet since that point, Looney's value to the Warriors, at least from an on-court standpoint, has dwindled to the point of sparing minutes. The 27-year-old has lost his starting spot on more than one occasion this season, and with Steve Kerr set to commit to Draymond Green as a small-ball five, the road back for Looney appears rough.
Golden State Warriors' center Kevon Looney is no guarantee to remain at the franchise past next week's trade deadline
Looney's challenge for minutes only increases with Kerr also having Trayce Jackson-Davis and Dario Saric at his disposal. The three-time NBA champion has played just over 13 minutes across the last two games, while Saric has played 32 and Jackson-Davis 18.
If he's going to provide minimal impact on the floor, is Looney enough of a locker room presence to be a cornerstone of the franchise moving forward? His value as an asset wouldn't be significant around the league, but he does have a contract that could be utilized if Golden State wish to find an upgrade.
Looney is making $7.5 million this season and has a partially guaranteed $8 million for 2024-25. If the Warriors want to make a mid-scale move before the deadline, then that's a deal that could be used to make it happen.
In providing updates on the status of key Golden State players ahead of the deadline, The Athletic's Anthony Slater notably suggested that Looney could be the outgoing salary in a minor trade.
"Only $3 million of his $8 million contract is guaranteed next season. I could see him being the outgoing salary in a smaller deal, especially if it is for an inbound center."- Anthony Slater on Kevon Looney
A trio of centers were listed by Slater as possible options, with Wendell Carter Jr., Clint Capela and Nic Claxton each proposed as trade targets. The latter may make most sense given he makes just $8.75 million this season, though the Warriors would have to be prepared to re-sign him to a much larger deal in free agency during the offseason.
Given the new starting unit has worked effectively over recent games, it's unlikely Golden State will want to upset that too much by bringing in one of the aforementioned trio. That means it remains highly likely that Looney stays, but his path back to meaningful rotation minutes is far more murkier.