Kevon Looney was one of the more interesting free agency case studies this summer. He is an extremely valuable player in a position that is losing value around the league compared to other positions on the court. Yet, when Looney went out everyone talked about it a lot, considering KD and Klay were also injured.
The other reason is more of a predictive value. The Warriors will have a much bigger decision to make about a similar player next summer at the latest. An amazing player that does all the little things, is the glue and brain on defense, but can’t shoot and is kind of a liability on offense. Unlike Looney, Draymond Green comes with a sizeable portion of annoying and explosive.
Looney was playing so good in the playoffs that most reporters and analysts around the league expected him to get ten to fifteen million dollars per season in free agency – that made it unlikely the Warriors would be able to retain his services. So when Golden State announced they signed Kevon Looney to a three-year, $15- million deal, there was a lot of head scratching going around. That was supposed to be per year, not for three years.
We know there was a lot of interest for Looney, he talked to Houston, Phoenix, Boston, Chicago, and Dallas. It was surprising to hear Looney saying that the teams in questions offered “similar offers”. It just goes to show the center position is something like the running back in the NFL. Yes, they are important, but if I can get 80% of Looney7s production on a minimum contract, why would I pay him $15 million a year? It makes sense only if I feel that 20 % he brings to the table are the difference between winning a championship or not.
Similar doesn’t mean the same and given their limited cap situation, at least a few of those teams must’ve offered more than the Warriors. In previous years you’d assume Looney was looking at a likely championship ring with the Warriors but that’s not the case either. So why did he stay? (via The Mercury News):
“To get respect from those guys and your coaches is always going to be big. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back,” Looney said. “I have a special bond with this team. I love the Bay Area. I wanted to be a part of something special. It’s one of those things that you can be on a different team and be with a new star and go out there for more minutes. But when you have the chance to win with people that you like, you can’t take that away.”
Looney added Steve Kerr talking about him as a foundational piece also meant a lot to him. He just knows the system, loves playing with the Warriors and understands he probably isn’t the player we saw in the playoffs without Steph and Klay on the court.
That’s the value of good organizational culture. You get to keep Kevon Looney.