The Golden State Warriors have a lot of decisions to make in free agency, but there's one guy head coach Steve Kerr finds irreplaceable for the NBA champions.
That guy is Kevon Looney.
Kerr has noticed, and Looney has rewarded the multi-titled coach's faith:
“He’s been really good for us over the years, but this year in particular, he’s taken a leap to a point where he’s just irreplaceable for us,” Kerr said. “And he played in every game, and he’s a guy we count on.”
Looney takes pride in his toughness and consistency. He displayed these in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. It's no wonder, then, that he now has a third NBA championship ring with the Warriors. This one, however, feels different:
“This one was really special for me,” Looney told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Just the last few years, the ups and downs and all the things that I had to go through and the team went through to make it back to the mountaintop, it’s an amazing feeling.”
“No better feeling… All in 7 years, by the way.”
Kevon Looney reflects on his journey to becoming a 3x NBA Champion. pic.twitter.com/LMIWgvvqsA
— NBA (@NBA) June 18, 2022
At 6'9, Looney was often not the biggest guy on the floor, but he more than made up for any size difference against opposing bigs. He was the Warriors‘ top rebounder with 7.6 boards per game in the postseason. Looney averaged just 5.8 points per game in the playoffs, but he was ultra-efficient, shooting 66.0% from the field. He also led the entire NBA Playoffs with 63 total offensive rebounds.
Remember how he grabbed 22 rebounds in Game 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies during the Western Conference Semifinals? That's just a snapshot of how crucial he is to the Warriors. His consistency is one element the Warriors cannot risk losing in the offseason as Looney becomes an unrestricted free agent.
As with many things, it all boils down to how much the Warriors are willing to pay. They can offer Looney any type of contract, but the Warriors had the league's highest payroll last season. The team will also register a record-breaking luxury tax payment for the 2022-2023 campaign.
Still, if anyone asks Kevon Looney, it is pretty clear:
“I always want to be back here,” Looney said. “I’ve been here my whole career.”
Steve Kerr sure wants the same thing, but can the Warriors afford to keep someone deemed “irreplaceable?”