OAKLAND (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have begun the process of keeping their championship roster intact.
The Warriors exercised their $3.8 million option Monday on reserve big man Marreese Speights for next season. The team had until Tuesday to pick up the final year on Speights’ contract or he would become a free agent.
The announcement brings back a key member of the NBA champions’ second unit. Speights averaged a career-high 10.4 points along with 4.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game during the regular season.
He averaged 3.7 points in just 10 playoff games due to a left hamstring injury and the Warriors’ move to a smaller lineup during the NBA Finals against Cleveland. But the 6-foot-10, 245-pound Speights split time at forward and center throughout the year, often giving Golden State a spark off the bench.
The Warriors seemed like they had made up their mind on Speights well before the deadline. General manager Bob Myers said last week the team was happy with Speights and was “inclined” to pick up his option.
The 27-year-old Speights was the Warriors’ fourth-leading scorer last season behind Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Philadelphia drafted Speights 16th overall out of Florida in 2008, and he played for Memphis and Cleveland before signing with the Warriors before the 2013-14 season.
The decision is the first of several Golden State needs to make this summer.
Nearly every key contributor — Curry, Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli — are locked up through at least next season. But the team needs to figure out how to handle Green’s looming pay raise and what that means for the future of David Lee.
Green, the versatile forward and runner-up for defensive player of the year, is set to become a restricted free agent Wednesday. As a restricted free agent, the Warriors can match any offer he receives.
Green expects to be back and the team intends to pay whatever salary he commands, even if that means going into the league’s luxury tax, which Myers had said he has been given authority to do from owner Joe Lacob.
Green got his shot to start last season after Lee injured his left hamstring in the final preseason game. Lee, who is owed $15.4 million next season in the final year of his deal, could be on the way out to limit the team’s tax hit. But finding a suitor for Lee could be tricky given the size of his salary.
In addition, reserve guard Leandro Barbosa — who played for the $1.4 million veteran minimum last season — is a free agent. And Barnes and Ezeli, part of the team’s acclaimed 2012 draft class with Green, are eligible for contract extensions.