Warriors release 7-foot-1 Ognjen Kuzmic


The Ognjen Kuzmic era is over, even if it never really got started.

The Warriors rescinded the qualifying offer they extended to the Serbian center in June, worth $1.147 million for next season, multiple sources reported this week.

Kuzmic never accepted or rejected the offer, but stalled long enough for the Warriors to decide to cut ties with the 25-year-old, who had played just 164 minutes in two NBA seasons. Kuzmic is now an unrestricted free agent.

Kuzmic was drafted 52nd overall by Golden State in 2012 as the team’s fourth selection in one of the best draft classes in team history that featured Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli. The Warriors drafted the 7-foot-1 center out of Liga ACB, the top basketball league in Spain, and Kuzmic continued to play overseas for a year before joining Golden State for the 2013-2014 season.

Kuzmic never started a game for Golden State, and played more than 10 minutes in a game only twice. He did, however, show flashes as a member of the Santa Cruz Warriors D-League Championship squad last year, earning All-Defensive Third Team honors. He averaged 15.7 points and 13.3 rebounds in seven D-League playoff games last season.

Injuries limited Kuzmic to only two games in Summer League, but the big man played well in his limited time, averaging 9 points and 9 rebounds in 25 minutes per game.

The rescinded offer gives the Warriors an open roster spot and some cap relief they will gladly take, with a payroll currently sitting around the luxury tax threshold. Golden State is still in the market for another scorer off the bench, presumably someone they could sign for the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million per year. Kuzmic off the books gives the team a little more wriggle room to do so.

The Warriors could astill re-sign Kuzmic at at a discounted rate using the “early Bird” cap exception, in which players who have played for the same team for two years can be resigned for 175 percent of the previous season’s salary and are allowed to exceed the salary cap in doing so. That scenario is highly unlikely as Golden State would have to sign Kuzmic for a minimum of $950,000 per year on a two- to four-year deal.

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