Looney wants to be Warrior for life: ‘It's home for me'


SAN FRANCISCO -- Unlike his first journey into free agency, which was met with considerable anxiety, Kevon Looney smiled his way onto the open market over the summer. Clear mind, sound body, destination to be determined.

His heart knew what it wanted: Warriors forever.

“This is the team I got drafted to,” Looney told NBC Sports Bay Area last month for the latest episode of "Dubs Talk." “We’d just won a championship and I want to be able to defend that. I love living out here. I know the system, I know the players, I know the guys. It’s home for me. This is where I wanted to be.

“I’ve had a lot of great vets over the years, and they always told me to stay here as long as possible. The culture like this, it isn’t like that everywhere else. All of that was in the back of my head going into free agency.”

Coming off his most impressive regular season and a playoff run with spectacular moments, Looney concedes that he was curious about what might be offered on the market. The 6-foot-9 center, drafted 28th overall in 2015, was cheated out of that in the summer of 2019.

There were legitimate concerns about his health. Looney missed 124 of a possible 328 games in his first four seasons. He was a backup big man who had endured surgeries on each hip. Furthermore, he was not much of a scorer and the athleticism of his youth was diminished.

“There were times when I didn’t even know if I was going to get a job,” he recalled.

“Going into this year, it was a different story. I know I played really well, put a couple good seasons together where I was healthy and feeling good about myself. So, I knew I was going to have a few more opportunities to have a few more options.”

Looney’s agent, Todd Ramasar, had discussions with at least one other team -- the Chicago Bulls -- but the Warriors made it clear that Looney was the top priority among free agents they wanted to re-sign.

If the money was close, the decision would be easy.

Looney’s previous contract covered three years, with a player option in Year 3, worth $14.4 million. The Warriors this time made a final offer of three years, worth $22.5 million, with another $1 million in annual incentives each season. The third year is only partially guaranteed.

Once this was conveyed to Looney, all he needed was a pen.

“A lot of guys don’t get to play for the same team for as long as I have been here,” he said. “I’ve got my family here. I’ve been building something. For me, in talking with my agent and my family, we knew the number was going to have to be a large amount to leave this team.

“I’m starting to build a legacy here, starting to build my brand here. This is home. It was going to take a lot for me to leave. The Warriors got to a number I felt comfortable, so I made it happen.”

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A reserve in his first six seasons, Looney last season was elevated to starter. He will enter this season with the same status. Only three Warriors on the roster -- Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson -- have more continuous years of service with the franchise.

Looney is coming off his healthiest and most productive season, and it’s evident he values stability. So, too, does Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has acknowledged an affinity for Looney.

All things considered, there’s an excellent chance Looney will be one of the rare players who spends an entire career with one organization.

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