It was barely more than a year ago that Donte DiVincenzo started every regular season game for the Milwaukee Bucks, entering the playoffs as a key member of the core surrounding Giannis Antetokounmpo. Not only was he going to play a crucial role in Milwaukee's quest for a championship, but DiVincenzo seemed on the verge of an inevitable summer contract extension, cementing his place as a long-term cog for a team with hopes of competing for multiple championships.

The Bucks went on to win the title in 2021, a ringing endorsement of Antetokounmpo's unbelievable development into arguably the best player in the world and the front office's decision to push all its chips in for a championship. DiVincenzo played hobbled bystander instead of impact role player, though, forced to watch Milwaukee's title run from the sidelines after suffering a torn left ankle ligament midway through the first round of the playoffs.

Not even his slow recovery from corrective surgery nor his February trade to the Sacramento Kings portended the dispiriting development that befell DiVincenzo next. Just one year removed from his seemingly ironclad place in the Bucks' present and future, the former first-round pick was coming off the bench for the lottery-bound Kings. Sacramento didn't even think of enough DiVincenzo to tender him a qualifying offer, freeing him from the confines of restricted free agency this summer.

The Kings' intentional and befuddling loss turned into the Golden State Warriors' gain. Donte DiVincenzo is an ideal replacement Gary Payton II with the defending champions, and has a golden opportunity with the Warriors to ultimately recoup much of the money he lost during a frustrating and forgettable 2021-22 season.

“Coming off the injury, it's not hidden — I got off to a slow start,” DiVincenzo said, per Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Percentages weren't there, everything wasn't there. I was still trying to get traction and everything. Then getting traded, it just weighs on you. Now I have a full complete offseason to start developing more and get acclimated to this system. I think once I get acclimated to the system and everything that they do, everything will take off from there.”

The rich always get richer, even when subject to record luxury tax payments for two seasons running.

DiVincenzo wouldn't have been an option for Golden State in free agency if he was healthy last season, and probably had Sacramento merely tendered him a qualifying offer. The Warriors signed him to a two-year, $9.2 million contract, using most of the taxpayer's mid-level exception to bring him down from the state capitol. DiVincenzo no doubt received more lucrative offers on the open market.

What team in the league wouldn't want to take a cheap flier on a 25-year-old who's a year removed from being a full-time starter and closer for the eventual NBA champions?

The role-playing versatility poised to make DiVincenzo such a perfect fit for Golden State doesn't exist in a vacuum. Every team with playoff aspirations could use a canny connector who capably checks three positions, can knock down open shots and helps ignite transition play as an off-ball defender and open-floor finisher.

But only one could afford him the brightest postseason spotlight and most beneficial two-way ecosystem, an opportunity DiVincenzo couldn't pass up—especially after seeing how playing with Steph Curry and Draymond Green paid off for fellow Warriors reclamation projects Payton II and Otto Porter.

“I know Jordan Poole took a huge step forward in his career and you can see how much they care about that,” Donte DiVincenzo said. “And then [Gary Payton II]. What Gary did last year. The same with [Otto Porter Jr.]. Looking at how those guys have helped other players, that's what I think is best for me.”

No one is expecting DiVenzo to fail with Golden State. Health provided, he'll be a pivotal piece of Steve Kerr's playoff rotation next spring and early summer no matter how many games he's inserted as a starter or finishes next to the Warriors' stars.

But DiVincenzo's imminent success presents a double-edged sword for Golden State, just like it did with the departed Payton and Porter. Assuming he declines his $4.7 million player option for 2023-24, DiVincenzo will be back on the market next July, with Golden State limited to offering him a starting salary at 120% of his previous one.

Those Non-Bird Rights weren't enough to keep Porter from signing a two-year, $12.3 million deal with the Toronto Raptors. The Warriors had Early Bird Rights on Payton, allowing them to exceed the salary he received from the Portland Trail Blazers, but ultimately decided a long-term commitment at that annual number wasn't worth the massive accompanying luxury tax hit.

DiVincenzo will get more than Payton's $26.1 million in total guaranteed money this time next year if he plays well with the Warriors. Joe Lacob is more comfortable spending than any owner in basketball, but finally balked at raising his tax bill even higher while letting Porter and Payton walk in free agency. Golden State will be even more expensive a year from now, with pricey new contracts for Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole on the books.

Lacob won't be any more keen on paying up for bench players next summer than he is now, especially after another year of development from Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga. The only scenario in which DiVincenzo remains in The Bay past this season, basically, involves another injury or him falling well short of expectations.

Keep your fingers crossed that misfortune is behind him. As much as the Warriors would love to make Donte DiVincenzo a multi-year fixture, what they want even more is a fifth championship in nine seasons—a historic accomplishment that surely won't come to pass unless he outplays his contract.

For both player and team, DiVincenzo's single-season rental to Golden State would be the best possible outcome.

[h/t Dalton Johnson, NBC Sports Bay Area]