The Warriors may have competition for the services of center Kevon Looney from their rivals in Houston once free agency begins this weekend.
Looney, who is an unrestricted free agent, is reportedly among the centers the Rockets are looking to pursue as they may be facing a massive overhaul that could include losing Clint Capela.
ESPN is reporting Houston is focused on trying to add 76ers free agent Jimmy Butler to its tandem of James Harden and Chris Paul, which could cost the Rockets at least two of three mainstays in Capela, guard Eric Gordon and forward P.J. Tucker.
The cap-strapped Rockets are considering Looney in free agency as well as more expensive centers such as the Bucks’ Robin Lopez and the Knicks’ DeAndre Jordan, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick. Looney and those centers, however, could probably only expect an offer of the taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.7 million.
Looney, though, could get at least that much from the Warriors, who hold his Bird Rights and could pay him however much they’re comfortable spending in terms of the luxury tax. Still, some experts expect Looney to receive offers around $5-6 million per season.
You won’t find any Warriors player, coach or executive who wouldn’t love to have the 23-year-old Looney back next season. Looney proved his worth this season as Golden State’s most dependable center and, should DeMarcus Cousins leave via free agency, the four-year vet from UCLA becomes all the more valuable. His gritty defense and solid offensive contributions with picks and screen-and-rolls were integral parts of the Warriors’ path to a fifth straight NBA Finals.
One of the lasting images of this past season was Looney wincing in pain and gutting through it while playing in the NBA Finals with a first costal cartilage fracture. The injury isn’t expected to limit him at all once training camp begins.