Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors' free agents voice desire to stay

ByKendra Andrews ESPN logo
Sunday, June 19, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- Amid the champagne showers that drenched Golden State's locker room in the TD Garden, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins hopped on Instagram Live to share the celebration with their followers.

In the livestream, Poole looked at Wiggins and proclaimed, "You're going to get a bag."

An uncontrollable smile cracked across Wiggins' face before he responded, "No, we're going to get a bag." Poole repeated the same words back to the camera.

Wiggins, who is heading into the final season of his $147 million rookie extension from 2017 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Poole, who is entering the last year of his rookie deal, are both up for contract extensions before becoming free agents next offseason. Poole has until Oct. 17 to negotiate a new contract with the Warriors.

"I would love to stay here," Wiggins said Saturday afternoon at the Warriors' exit interviews. "Being here, this is top-notch. The way they treat the players ... we're all one big family. I feel like a lot of places may say that, but they show it through their actions."

Wiggins arrived in Golden State in a trade that stemmed from Kevin Durant's departure in 2019. At first, there were questions about how effective the trade would be.

Wiggins was leaving the Timberwolves with a reputation that suggested he was lazy. Many didn't think he was a hard worker or would be able to make a true impact on the Warriors -- especially not one that would help them win another title.

But by the end of the season, the message from inside the Warriors was that they wouldn't have won without Wiggins. And he became the first player picked No. 1 overall in the modern draft to get his first All-Star nod and win his first title with a team he didn't debut with.

"There was a lot of talk, people have something to say about every little thing, but now I'm happy that I made it here," Wiggins said. "People didn't think I could ever be in this position or even be helpful on a championship team. But I'm proving the doubters wrong and I'm going to keep it going."

Like Wiggins, there were a lot of doubts surrounding Poole's future. Following his rookie season in 2019-20, some questioned whether he would even have a future in the league. But this season, he not only filled the starting shooting guard spot as Klay Thompson worked his way back but he also started in place of Stephen Curry through the final month of the regular season -- and the first few games of the playoffs -- before he created his own role as a sixth man.

"He definitely deserves [a new contract]," Wiggins said. "Jordan is someone who works so hard, who makes his teammates better and can go out there on the court and dominate."

Poole wasn't as definitive as Wiggins when asked if he would like to return to Golden State, but it wasn't as though he sounded eager to go anywhere else.

"If I'm going to be completely honest, I haven't even been able to fathom anything about that process yet," Poole said. "I was so locked in on the championship. Like, we know it will happen, we put ourselves in situations to be successful and everything else will take care of itself."

While signing Wiggins and Poole to extensions would be a move to keep them from becoming free agents next summer, the Warriors have a number of free agents this offseason.

Gary Payton II, Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee and Chris Chiozza will all be unrestricted free agents. Juan Toscano-Anderson and Quinndary Weatherspoon will be restricted free agents.

Of the upcoming free agents who were made available for exit interviews, all voiced a desire to remain in Golden State.

Payton, who became a key player for the Warriors after grabbing the 15th roster spot at the start of the season, said he would "absolutely" like to stay with Golden State.

A journeyman who has spent most of his career in the G League and has been cut from five different pro teams, Payton said he expects this summer to be the first time he gets to pick where he ends up.

After Looney's breakout season that saw him play in every regular-season and playoff game, he said he "definitely" wants to return to the team that drafted him.

"I always want to be back here," Looney said. "I want to come back and try to defend what we just won and be a part of something special again."

Porter signed a one-year deal with the Warriors to bring a veteran presence to the team. When he joined last summer, he saw winning a title as a possible outcome, and now that it has happened he also vocalized wanting to come back for more.

"I do know that this team can compete again for another championship and it would be a great opportunity if I could stay here," Porter said. "It would be amazing to be here with that group of guys again and do it all over again."

Whether the Warriors can retain all these players is yet to be seen. They are already the highest-spending them in the league.

But there is clearly a mutual desire between the front office and players to have a similar roster from this championship year heading into next season.

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