Golden State Warriors re-sign Zaza Pachulia

The Golden State Warriors checked nearly all of the boxes for their title defense in the first week of free agency. They locked Stephen Curry up with a five-year maximum contract in the opening minutes of free agency. Then, they agreed with Shaun Livingston, David West, and Andre Iguodala before the end of the day on July 1st. Golden State continued their fantastic start to free agency by signing Kevin Durant to a below-market deal that gave them more money to work with in their pursuits of Nick Young and Omri Casspi.

However, Golden State's strong opening to free agency was notable due to their lack of big man targets. While convincing West to return for one more year did give them at least one useful big man, the Warriors did not have any true center on their roster after the first few days of free agency.

The Warriors solved that issue by inking yet another returning free agent before the end of the first week of the league's 2017-18 season. Zaza Pachulia will return to the Warriors for at least one more year:

Zaza's new contract will pay him slightly more than his $2.9 million deal from last year, despite Golden State's jump in total salary commitments with Stephen Curry earning closer to his market value. Pachulia's contract is for the Warriors' Non-Bird exception per Dan Feldman, which is the maximum that the team could pay him for next season.

While Zaza is the least vital member of Golden State's starting five, his re-signing is critical to the Warriors' title defense. Pachulia is incredibly valuable to the Warriors during the regular season, as he allows Kevin Durant and Draymond Green to avoid playing significant taxing minutes at five before the playoffs. Although Pachulia's role decreased during the postseason, his solid passing, great rebounding, and excellent screen setting are still quite valuable to the Warriors. Pachulia might not provide enough as Golden State's only center, but his return fills a void that could have led to overtaxing the Warriors' most valuable pieces before beginning their title defense in the postseason.

Role-Playing Starter

Zaza Pachulia played the seventh-most minutes for the Golden State Warriors during both the regular season and the playoffs. However, Zaza started in all 85 of his appearances last year between the regular season and the playoffs. 

Golden State's motion offense, along with their emphases on three-point shooting and transition play, would seemingly leave a player like Pachulia in the dust. However, he fills three of the four niches that made a healthy Andrew Bogut such an important part of the Warriors' title run in 2015: great passing, excellent rebounding, and brutal (and occasionally questionable) screen-setting.

Zaza is not in Bogut's echelon as an elite passing big man from the post. However, he has a solid vision and rarely misses the open man. On rare occasions, Zaza can reach into his bag of tricks and dish out some impressive dimes: