NBA free agency: Kevon Looney's Warriors return was mandatory move

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Grading Warriors' move to bring back Looney in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The Warriors' tough start to free agency this year just got a whole lot better. Kevon Looney has agreed to a three-year, $25.5 million contract, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported Friday, citing sources.

Looney became the Warriors' latest folk hero this past season during their title run, and his value became more obvious by the minute. He set single-game career highs in points and rebounds during the playoffs, and the MVP chants were very real. It wasn't long ago that Looney's tenure with the Warriors looked to be wrapping up.

What a difference a year can make.

"Loon, what more do we need to say about Loon?" Warriors coach Steve Kerr said on June 22. "He's a championship center, modern-day defender, switch defender, which is what it takes in the playoffs. As the 30th pick in the draft seven years ago, the way he's developed, the way he's worked, the way he has become such a big part of our internal leadership and our fabric, he's a huge component to our success.

"We all want him back. We also are rooting for him personally to get a really good contract, so hopefully, it's from us."

It is from the Warriors, and all those reasons are why bringing him back was mandatory. He knows the nuances of the game, he knows all the little things that are required out of a champion center. Looney also is the perfect mentor for 21-year-old center James Wiseman, and the two should be able to complement each other with their different skill sets.

The Athletic's Anthony Slater reported the first year of Looney's contract is worth $7 million, but the last year is only a partial guarantee of $3 million. If Wiseman has propelled to a much bigger role by then or Looney, unfortunately, deals with injury issues, this becomes even more of a steal for the Warriors.

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Down the stretch, Looney became an absolute difference-maker for the Warriors to win another ring. He's one of the most respected voices in the locker room. The 26-year-old is the perfect fit for Golden State and vice versa.

Losing Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Juan Toscano-Anderson, along with Nemanja Bjelica most likely, certain hurts. Watching Looney go would have turned this into a loss of an offseason.

Bringing him back eases the wound and slaps a big bandage of the Warriors' roster holes.

Grade: A-plus