Despite the Delay, the Likelihood is that Brandon Rush Will Be a Warrior

Still pretty quiet on the Brandon Rush front. Some Warriors fans seem to be aggravated by the lack of news on that end. But, rest assured, lack of action doesn’t mean the Warriors will lose Rush. It probably means they are more likely to keep him.

As @AlexKennedyNBA, Rush worked out today as the Lakers looked on. Los Angeles GM Mitch Kupchak, looking to overhaul his anemic bench, would love to add Rush to the fold. The Warriors need someone who can come in and get buckets, as well as play some defense. But the Lakers only have the mini-midlevel to offer, meaning any offer sheet Rush would sign the Lakers would have to start at $3 million.

Fair to say the Warriors would love for Rush to sign an offer sheet with the Lakers. No doubt, if Rush came to the Warriors right now looking for a deal starting at $3 million, Warriors GM Bob Myers would jump at it.

Golden State isn’t in a rush to sign Rush. It’s not that they don’t want him, but just Myers playing ball. The risk is very low, however, and if everything works out, the Warriors could end up getting a discount.

The Warriors are willing to match Rush to a mid-level offer sheet, which is all any team over the cap can offer. But it seems Rush still has some other players ahead of him in line to eat. Shannon Brown and Courtney Lee, both unrestricted, are easier to sign because teams won’t have to worry about their contract being matched. And don’t forget about Delonte West, a proven veteran who figures to come at a good price.

Only four teams remain that have the cap space to offer Rush anything more than the midlevel:

Cleveland: The Cavs, who according to Larry Coon has more than $17 million in cap space, are reportedly trying to maintain their cap flexibility. They lost out on their bid for Scola, which had to be less than the $13 million over three years Phoenix won with. It stands to reason if they aren’t willing to spend more than $4 million for Scola, they won’t be for Rush.

Phoenix: After their match deal to Eric Gordon was matched by New Orleans, the Suns have gone after O.J. Mayo and reportedly have interest in Brown and Lee. Phoenix has more than $16 million according to Coon, but Rush seems to be pretty far down on their list.

Houston: The Rockets will have quite a bit of space left (more than $15 million) even if the Knicks don’t match for Jeremy Lin and the Bulls don’t match for Omer Asik. But that space, for all intents and purposes, is already reserved. Any chance the Rockets have of getting Dwight Howard is in their ability to absorb the contract of Hedo Turkoglu’s $11 million salary (and maybe Jason Richardon’s $5.8 million salary). It’s probably a safe bet Houston won’t use that space until Dwight Howard is dealt elsewhere.

Minnesota/Portland: Depending on what happens with Nicolas Batum, one of these teams will have some space. The Timberwolves signed Batum to a four-year, $46 million offer sheet. If Portland matches, Minnesota will have cap space. If Portland doesn’t match, the Blazers will have cap space.

The biggest risk for the Warriors is one of these teams missing out on the other options and overpaying. It is possible for one of these teams to do with Rush what the Warriors did with Kwame Brown: give him a one-year deal for for a bloated price to coax the Warriors into not matching (one year, $7 million). Other than that, it just doesn’t seem likely Rush will get an offer higher than what the Warriors are willing to pay. Which means, no matter how long it takes, Rush will be a Warrior.

If Rush comes back to the Warriors with no offer, now Golden State is in the driver seat for negotiations. At that point, Rush’s only leverage is to accept the qualifying offer (one year, $4.4 million) and become an unrestricted free agent next season. Rush said he wants to stay with the Warriors, so unless they really low-ball him on the offer, I doubt he opts for the one year. Especially since the 2013 free agency class will feature multiple shooting guards and small forwards (James Harden, Monta Ellis, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Martin, Shawn Marion and Trevor Ariza.

Marcus Thompson