Dario Saric

What Dunleavy likes most about Warriors' Saric, Joseph moves

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LAS VEGAS – Draymond Green remaining in a Warriors jersey was priority No. 1 in Mike Dunleavy’s first offseason serving as general manager, and second place wasn’t particularly close.

Once NBA free agency began on June 30 at 3 p.m. PT, Green agreed to a new four-year, $100 million contract that features a player option in the fourth year. The moment the Warriors could be on the phone pursuing new players, they had one person in mind: Dario Šarić. 

Though Šarić is yet to sign on the dotted line as of Monday night and Dunleavy said Golden State “intends to sign him,” sources have confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area that the former 12th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft soon will be a Warrior, agreeing to a one-year, veteran minimum contract

“We’ve had a lot of success signing guys who probably should make more than the minimum and have been able to come in and help our team,” Dunleavy said Monday at the Las Vegas Basketball Center. “You talk about guys like [Nemanja Bjelica], Otto [Porter Jr.] and even Donte [DiVincenzo] last year, who was more than a minimum but he took less than market value.” 

Dunleavy was on the phone speaking to Šarić and his representatives on Day 1, and the two sides finally came to an agreement more than a week into free agency. 

“It took some convincing, but I think we were able to sell our program, our culture, the way we play and I think Dario saw that vision and we’re really thrilled to have him,” Dunleavy said. 

Finding big men who properly fit in coach Steve Kerr’s offensive system isn’t always easy. Kevon Looney (6-foot-9) does so perfectly as a strong rebounder who navigates as a facilitator out of the post and has turned himself into an elite defender. Green (6-foot-6) is a unicorn in his own right, serving as a point guard in the offense, guarding all positions and always battling those much bigger than him. Neither are offensive threats shooting the ball. 

Porter (6-foot-8) sure was, and now serves as the ideal example of a stretch big moving forward. The third overall pick in the 2013 draft shot 46.4 percent from the field and 37 percent on 3-point attempts in the Warriors' 2021-22 championship season. Šarić last season between the Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder shot 45.8 percent from the field and made 39.1 percent of his threes. 

At 6-foot-10, Šarić also will be the Warriors’ tallest player currently on the roster. He can play both spots down low, and primarily was a center in OKC after mostly being used as a power forward in Phoenix to start the season. 

Size still might be an issue for the Warriors from the outside looking in. But staring at height isn’t the objective. 

“There’s like five open spots and if we fill three or four of them, yeah, I’d think we’d add some size but we got to be careful with the way we play, the way the league works,” Dunleavy said. 

“Just bringing in somebody who’s tall -- you’ve got to have skill, you’ve got to have feel, you’ve got to know how to play. I think we’ve learned that over the last few years. We’ll always prioritize that, but the taller and longer a player is, the better.” 

That’s where Cory Joseph comes into play. Not for being tall or long at 6-foot-3, but for knowing how to play and having feel for the game. 

The Warriors signed free-agent Joseph to a one-year contract worth slightly under $3.2 million to complement Steph Curry and Chris Paul as an extremely high IQ ball-handler who can also shoot the deep ball and isn’t going to turn the ball over left and right. While the Warriors led the league in assists per game, their reckless play also led to them topping all teams in turnovers per game. 

In 19.8 minutes per game last season for the Detroit Pistons, Joseph turned the ball over only 0.9 times per game, and his worst mark for a season is a mere 1.4 turnovers per game. His 3.88 assist-to-turnover ratio last season was the eighth-best in all of basketball for players who registered at least 200 assists. 

“Playing in Detroit the last couple year, the team was maybe not too on the radar, hasn’t won a lot of basketball games, so you can’t lose sight of what he can do for a team in terms of his leadership, his ball security being on of the top guys in assist to turnovers and he can defend,” Dunleavy said.

“He’s a guy who’s going to be willing to come in and do whatever it takes each and every day. Chris and Steph will see a lot of the minutes at point guard, but Cory will always stay ready. He was excited to sign here and we’re excited to have him.” 

Šarić and Joseph round out a well-balanced roster that Kerr can trust, and one that Dunleavy believes has the experience in returning to championship contention.

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