The Golden State Warriors are on the lookout for veteran pieces to add to its roster, but fortunately for general manager Bob Myers, one such player decided to return to the Bay Area on his own.
And he’s a championship-caliber player, as well. Center Kevon Looney exercised his $5.1 million player option to return to the Warriors next season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. (The San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau reports the amount is $5.2 million.)
Looney, 25, was a member of the Warriors’ title runs in 2017 and 2018, and he shone especially bright in 2018, with elite versatility on defense. A lottery-pick-type talent, Myers selected Looney out of UCLA with the 30th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft after Looney’s only season of college hoops.
He was available so late due to a history of injury issues, mostly with his hips, each of which have been surgically repaired since he arrived in the NBA. But in 2020-21, Looney displayed durability that was vital to the Warriors’ success. Appearing in 61 games and starting in 34 contests, Looney averaged 19 minutes per game, a career high. His defense, along with the efforts of forward Draymond Green, anchored the club on that end of the floor.
Looney projects to be a starter next season in Golden State, especially with the franchise’s No. 2 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, C James Wiseman, rehabbing from a knee injury.
Though Looney’s player-option decision was expected, it’s still fantastic news for the Warriors. Looney doesn’t have he championship experience of Warriors superstars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or Green, but he’s not far behind in that category. Their collective knowledge will be vital as the franchise looks to notch another NBA title in 2021-22.