SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors were never supposed to receive the kind of contributions they got last season from Anthony Lamb and Ty Jerome, two players who had mutual contracts. They have exceeded expectations, for better and often for worse.
After one year, the Warriors shouldn’t be in the same situation. Their roster is loaded with veterans, plus Jonathan Kuminga and Moody Moody are expected to make a smooth jump into Year 3.
But if the Warriors find themselves in a similar problem to last season, they may have the perfect candidate in 26-year-old Jerome Robinson, who signed a two-way contract in late September, taking advantage of the change the NBA made this offseason. .
NBA teams now have three mutual contracts to work with, giving the Warriors an additional roster spot to evaluate unproven talent.
Bilateral contracts were new to the CBA in 2017 to help young players develop between the NBA and the team’s G League affiliate. The Warriors, less than a week before their regular-season opener, have two players signed to bilateral contracts that fit the original intent.
Lester Quinones, 22, has achieved all the cornerstones a franchise could ask for from an undrafted player. After losing his dual title last year before the opener, Quiñones shined in Santa Cruz and was named the G League’s Most Valuable Player. Quinones signed a 10-day contract with the Warriors on March 2 and was converted to a two-way contract on March 17 for the final 12 games of the regular season and is with the team on the sidelines of the playoffs. Players on dual contracts are not eligible to participate in the playoffs.
Ousmane Garuba, 21, is a former first-round pick who became one of the roster casualties in the offseason when he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and then waived six weeks later. Garuba played 75 games with the Houston Rockets last season and is a project the Warriors are happy to invest in. He and Quiñones both are, but the NBA changed the duo’s contracts this year in the latest CBA.
Robinson could fill that third spot on the roster, and has a chance to contribute in many areas, if given the opportunity.
“He’s got a lot of experience at his age,” Steve Kerr said of Robinson on Sunday at Golden 1 Center before the Warriors’ preseason overtime win over the Sacramento Kings. “He knows what wins. When I put him out there, he makes it happen.” If he is with us this year, he will help us win some games. He’s a really solid professional.
“And he’s also important to us because he helps the young guys. He showed great leadership last year in Santa Cruz. So one of the reasons we wanted him both ways is for him to have that ability to influence our younger players with his leadership, but also help the team win If he’s there.”
Robinson has already seen every facet of the NBA in his young career. The Los Angeles Clippers selected him 13th overall in the 2018 draft, but he was traded to the Washington Wizards less than two years later. He last played in the NBA on April 1, 2021 as a member of the Wizards.
This time last year, the Warriors waived Robinson to make room for Jerome. No former first-round pick wants to set foot on a G League field, especially after the first or second season of his pro career, but that’s where Robinson has found himself the last two seasons as part of the Warriors organization.
And the value he demonstrated after the win in Santa Cruz could have kept Robinson knocking on the door to return to the NBA in his third decade with the Warriors.
“Santa Cruz is great,” Robinson said recently after a Warriors practice. “Obviously as a basketball player in your career you don’t want to be in the G League, but it’s an opportunity. I think taking advantage of every opportunity you get,” that’s the most important thing. Going out there, being professional, carrying myself the way I want to carry myself, and helping everyone as much as I can, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
That’s what Robinson proved on a daily basis last year when playing under Seth Cooper, who is now one of the faces of the Warriors’ player development program. Between the G League regular season and the exhibition circuit, Robinson averaged 14.6 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game last season in Santa Cruz while shooting 45.5 percent from the field, 35.3 percent on 3-pointers and 90.9 percent of free throws. Most importantly, Robinson served as a mentor to his teammates, and Quiñones remembers him always offering advice during games and practices.
Quiñones realizes how successful Robinson’s experiment has been. His readings are proactive and he can see things happening on the field that younger players may not notice. The best advice Robinson shared with Quiñones also highlights his value as a veteran.
“First, the refs. He’s good at calling fouls, talking to them, being coachable. But mainly the refs. He knows how to talk to them a certain way,” Quinones told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday in Sacramento. , sided with them a little. That’s something I feel like I can pick up from him. I can’t say I’ve picked it up yet, but it’s definitely something he’s helped me with around Santa Cruz and is helping me with now.
“And just being a leader out there. Managing a team, getting people out here and getting them out there and giving them advice in the right situations. It’s just little things like that that help me with.”
The coaches didn’t ask Robinson to do anything he hadn’t done in the past. They want him to continue to be a leader, continue to be a glue guy and contribute at the very least on both ends of the floor. The main difference for him personally is how he prepared himself during the offseason.
Robinson spent the offseason doing proactive athletic performance at Westlake Village, the same facility he trained at entering the draft and when dealing with an Achilles issue in the past. Robinson believes that he did not lack training in previous summers, but at Proactive his curiosity was constantly met and his consistency was at a different level than before.
The biggest change he made? Sleeps.
“For me it was seven days a week, between working out, maintaining my body and sleeping,” Robinson said. “I think sleep is very important. Consistently going to bed in the middle of the night or consistently going to bed at 9:30 or 10 a.m., those two or two-and-a-half hours over the course of months add a lot to your body.
“I really think finding those details and figuring them out, and then executing them, were the most important things.”
Staying stuck in the past is something Robinson refuses to do. More than 20 points are scored per game at Boston College. So does the draft, his tenure with the Clippers and his time with the Wizards. Robinson ensures that regret is no part of his basketball life, and the added leash on a third two-way contract comes at the perfect time for him and the Warriors.
“He knows the respect he has in the locker room from all of us for how hard he works and how he approaches things and who he is as a person,” Steph Curry said Tuesday. “There’s a chance for him, for sure. He’ll be there at some point in the season.
“Just be prepared for it and go. That’s how you got here, and that’s what we expect from it.”
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