Kings signing McGee opens door for intriguing Warriors option

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Kings signing McGee opens door for intriguing Warriors option originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

JaVale McGee reportedly turned down a Warriors reunion to instead reunite with coach Mike Brown and sign a one-year contract to join the Sacramento Kings earlier this month. McGee’s decision also created a domino effect in Sacramento, and the Warriors could benefit from their former fan-favorite siding with their Northern California rivals.

The Kings on Tuesday announced the signing of guard Jordan Ford. To create space on a roster that had an overflow of centers, the Kings also waived big men Nerlens Noel and Neemias Queta. The former is a nine-year pro who was a top draft pick in 2013, and the latter has played 20 total NBA games.

Yet it’s Queta’s push out the door from McGee’s signing that should have the Warriors intrigued. The 24-year-old still is eligible for a two-way contract and could be exactly what Golden State needs for one of its two empty two-way slots as someone who can contribute at the NBA level and compete for an open roster spot.

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Queta in his 20 NBA games has scored in double figures three times. His career high is 11 points and his career high in rebounds is six. But Queta’s development has been on the rise every year, starting with his three years at Utah State and continuing with his two seasons for the Stockton Kings after being selected in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft.

While the Kings were busy breaking their decade-plus playoff streak in Sacramento, Queta was on a mission in Stockton last season. The 7-footer finished as the G League’s runner-up in MVP voting, earning All-NBA G League and All-Defensive G League honors, averaging 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game between the Showcase Cup and regular season, shooting 68.1 percent from the field and 70.3 percent on free throws. The Warriors also had an eye-opening view to a handful of Queta’s top performances.

Seth Cooper and David Fatoki are the new faces of the Warriors’ player development system. Cooper will focus on the coaching side, and Fatoki will do so from the front-office perspective. The two previously worked together in the Warriors’ Santa Cruz G League affiliate – Cooper being the head coach and Fatoki leading as general manager – and Queta was their worst nightmare last season.

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Queta garnered career highs in points (38) and rebounds (18) the first time Santa Cruz played Stockton last season. He also totaled four blocks, three assists, two steals and went 12-of-14 shooting. Queta outplayed former Warriors No. 2 overall draft pick and fellow 7-footer James Wiseman in the Kings’ comeback win, owning the paint in multiple ways.

In the three games he played against Santa Cruz, Queta averaged 24.0 points, 11.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.7 blocks and shot 68.6 percent (24 of 35) overall and 76.6 percent (13 of 17) from the free-throw line.

That same kind of impact followed Queta this summer, too. Though he was called for seven fouls in the Kings’ 100-94 California Classic summer league win against the Warriors at Golden 1 Center, Queta’s plus/minus was a game-high plus-15 behind 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.

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Three weeks away from the start of training camp, the Warriors have 13 of their 15 NBA roster spots filled. Lester Quinones holds one of their three two-way contracts and four players are on Exhibit 10 training camp invites. The circumstances and even the gameplay is much different, but Steve Kerr just saw once again what can happen to a smaller team being bullied on the glass on the big stage during Team USA’s fourth-place finish in the FIBA World Cup.

Watching Queta defend his basket and fight for rebounds is witnessing a player clawing for respect, whether it be the G League, summer league or the chances he has received in the NBA. The idea of his next chance being in a Warriors jersey, Santa Cruz or Golden State, should be on general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s radar.

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