LAS VEGAS — Donte DiVincenzo knows there’s no sugarcoating his stats from last season as he struggled to come back from an ankle injury.
But coming off one of his worst seasons in the NBA, DiVincenzo entered the chaotic free agency period with one thing on his mind.
“What’s best for Donte,” he said Saturday.
The answer turned out to be just a short drive from where he ended last season.
DiVincenzo officially signed a two-year, $9.3 million deal with the Warriors, the team announced Friday.
The proven role player bolsters Golden State’s wing corps depth and his addition fills a key void left by the departures of Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. who signed elsewhere this month.
Speaking to the media for the first time since his signing, DiVincenzo detailed what it was like to be a free agent for the first time since he was drafted No. 17 overall in 2018.
“It was stressful, I’m not going to lie,’ he said. “I’m calling my agent, ‘What’s going on? What are we doing?’”
DiVincenzo said the process slowed down for him once he talked to Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. He said they were “two different types of conversations” — Green “shot it straight to me, and Steph is like the nicest person in the world so everything was good.” They talked about the Warriors’ highly team-first culture, which eased his mind.
“I got away from the numbers, the dollar signs and everything and I was more so kind of focused on what is best for Donte and what is best for me going forward,” DiVincenzo said. “I go back to the culture and the environment, and I think it’s something I want to be a part of and it’s who I am. I don’t have to change to fit in.”
DiVincenzo, 25, had a breakout third season with the Bucks, posting 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game as a starter before he tore a ligament in his left ankle in the first-round of the 2021 playoffs.
After an agonizing seven months, DiVincenzo made his season debut on Christmas Day but was slow to getting back to his previous form. He averaged 7.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 17 games while shooting 33.1% from the field and 28.4% from 3-point range. The Bucks ultimately traded him to the Kings as part of a four-team deal that moved Marvin Bagley III out of Sacramento.
DiVincenzo turned his season around with the Kings, putting up numbers that more aligned with his 2020-21 campaign.
“In a weird way, I just feel like I ran out of time,” he said. “We weren’t making the playoffs in Sacramento and when the season ended it was just kind of like ‘Alright, you only played two months and you’re done.’”
DiVincenzo said he feels great now, adding that, “It doesn’t even feel like I had surgery on my ankle.” That said, the Warriors’ proven history of helping players work their way back from injuries, with Curry and Klay Thompson being prime examples, with another selling point for DiVincenzo, who’s looking forward to having a full offseason to recuperate.
“I go back to what’s best for Donte,” he said. “Being in an organization that takes care of my body first and you can’t do anything on the court unless you’re healthy and so that’s a huge focus for me. I’ve already been out there with the staff and trying to get acclimated with them and just take my body, take everything to the next level.”
DiVincenzo said the Warriors were a “perfect fit” for him, and the saying goes both ways. Though his defense wasn’t nearly as good as it was pre-injury, Golden State is anticipating he’ll be healthy and be a key contributor mostly off the bench. DiVincenzo believes his proven ability to play alongside stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo will help him with the Warriors’ read-and-react offense.
Coach Steve Kerr called DiVincenzo after he inked the deal and told him he only wants the best for the former Villanova star.
“Everything that he asked me I’m willing to do,” DiVincenzo said, “and I just want to win games.”
Source: Paradise Post