Three Jordan Poole Trade Destinations
By Liam McKeone
The Golden State Warriors were eliminated from the playoffs last night by the Los Angeles Lakers and change is afoot. Draymond Green will opt out of his contract this summer and seek a big new deal. Klay Thompson is eligible for an extension on his current contract and will very likely expect to receive an offer. The new luxury tax rules are going to kick in next year which means it will be extremely expensive to keep the Warriors' championship trio of Green, Thompson, and Stephen Curry together while still fielding a competitive team.
An article from The Athletic published right after last night's Game 6 loss suggests Golden State is very interested in retaining Green this summer and generally keeping the title core together. This means the financial fat will have to be cut somewhere else if owner Joe Lacob doesn't want to pay a half-billion dollars in luxury tax money, and the logical option is Jordan Poole.
Poole will have his four-year, $128 million deal kick in next year. His $32 million salary is not outrageous for a 20 point-per-game scorer during the regular season. It is, however, untenable for a team with two $30 million deals already on the books and probably three if they sign Green. More importantly, Poole's playoff performance this year makes everybody wonder why he got that deal. He averaged 10 points per game and completely fell apart when the Warriors needed him most against the Lakers.
Poole is a useful player but is too streaky offensively to make up for the fact that he is a turnstile on defense and thus is not a great fit with a team looking to win a title. Especially a team with the Warriors' particular financial situation. He's the obvious option to get traded this summer to create some breathing room on the cap sheet and, if the right deal emerges, land a decent rotation option in return.
Here are a few possible trade destinations for the 22-year-old Poole.
The Rockets are the only team right now who could absorb Poole's new contract without having to send anything back, which would greatly appeal to the Warriors. He wouldn't be the best fit with the roster Houston trotted out there given Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green are just worse versions of Poole right now. But the Rockets are not far enough along their rebuild to avoid acquiring talent and Poole would be the best player on their roster immediately. Getting him for pennies on the dollar because the Warriors need to unload money would be a smart move to make, even if he is not in their long-term plans.
Golden State gets the salary dump they want and that would be reason enough to do this. Perhaps they could convince Houston to give up JaeSean Tate, who would fit well in their system. But who they might get back is inconsequential compared to the primary goal here. Golden State doesn't want to dump Poole for nothing but they probably will if no other option is presented and the ownership demands the tax bill go down.
The Magic are a great roster fit for Poole because they desperately need a guard who can score the ball and Poole can do that if anything. The logjam in Orlando is stocked with athletic backcourt players who cannot shoot to save their lives. The defense would suffer with Poole in the lineup but Franz Wagner is coming along and Wendell Carter Jr. is a bit underrated as a rim protector. The spacing would be absolutely massive for Rookie of the Year Pablo Banchero, which might be reason enough to pull the trigger.
The Warriors would probably start by asking for the Magic's first-round pick, which currently has the 11th-best odds to end up with the top overall selection. If the pick ends up in the 10-14 range, Orlando might seriously think about that because they have enough young guys that taking another project is detrimental to the development of others. If the pick ends up high, though, Orlando could make a good offer consisting of Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris, two decent enough players who would help fill out the rotation in the regular season and perhaps the playoffs if things break right. Not a bad deal for either side regardless.
Poole has the feel of a future Wizard, doesn't he? An empty-calories scorer who will not win games but will be pretty entertaining and cost way more money than he probably should. So let's just get it over with. Washington does not seem interested in true contention and instead wants to sell tickets, which Poole would help with. The combination of him and Bradley Beal would be heinous defensively but put up points in bunches. That is apparently all that matters in Washington.
A deal could get done here featuring a Kyle Kuzma or Kristaps Porzingis sign-and-trade that would give Golden State great depth if they do not care about their luxury tax bill and just want to move Poole for a better fit. Otherwise the Wizards would have to cobble together an offer featuring everybody other than those two and Beale, which would be doable in theory. Not the best fit for either side but the sort of deal that tends to happen for an asset at its lowest value.