Ranking 7 Golden State Warriors free agents by likelihood to return next season

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With aspirations of returning to the playoffs next season, free agency will be vitally important for the Golden State Warriors despite the limitations they'll have as a team currently above the second-tax apron.

If anything that makes re-signing their own free agents a huge priority for the Warriors, at least those they wish to retain moving forward. Some of those are key pieces like franchise legend Klay Thompson, while others are towards the back end of the roster.

The Golden State Warriors could have up to seven free agents this offseason, many of whom won't be returning to the franchise

Given player and team options, along with potential extensions in the coming weeks, it's not exactly clear how many free agents Golden State will have. Let's look at those players who can become free agents this offseason, ranking them from most likely to least likely of returning to the Warrior roster.

1. Gary Payton II

Gary Payton II left the Warriors in free agency two years ago, but it seems much less likely that he'll depart this time around. The situations couldn't be much different -- Payton was on less than $2 million in 2021-22 and was on the lookout for a reasonable pay increase after developing from the last player on the roster into a key piece on a championship team.

He got that deal from the Portland Trail Blazers, before being dealt back to the Warriors in a trade at last year's mid-season deadline. Yet Payton has been injury-prone since signing that contract, having appeared in just 66 of a possible 164 regular season games.

The defensive-minded guard now has the chance to be a free agent again given he has a $9.1 million player option. Given the injury issues, it's expected Payton will pick up that option and continue his career with the Warriors. The only reason he may opt out is to negotiate a new contract, providing him with more long-term security while giving the Warriors a discount on next year's deal.