What’s next for Jordan Bell after he becomes a restricted free agent?

The Warriors showed they still feel somewhat intrigued by giving Jordan Bell a $1.8 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent.

The next question: to what extent do the Warriors feel invested in Bell? They plan to canvas other front-court players in free agency before committing to Bell, who has received mixed reviews in his past two seasons with his consistency and maturity. Should Bell receive any outside questions, it appears unlikely the Warriors will exhaust their resources into keeping Bell. After all, the Warriors drafted Villanova senior forward with No. 41 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and he may become better suited for a consistent rotation spot.

Nonetheless, the Warriors still might consider Bell a worthy investment. Damian Jones is the lone center under contract next season, and neither DeMarcus Cousins, Jonas Jerebko or Andrew Bogut are expected to return. As for Bell, the Warriors remain intrigued with Bell’s trajectory even if it is littered with question marks.

The Warriors paid the Chicago Bulls $3.5 million for the rights to their No. 38 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, which was used on Bell. It appeared the Warriors found a steal in that year’s draft, as Bell impressed the Warriors immediately with his athleticism and passing. Bell soon became saddled with inconsistency with both his play and preparation.

The Warriors then became encouraged with Bell’s positional versatility against the Houston Rockets in the 2018 Western Conference Finals as well as Cleveland in the 2018 NBA Finals. Hence, the Warriors believed Bell would have grow significantly in his second season with more minutes. Instead, Bell averaged 3.3 points on 51.6 percent shooting and 2.7 rebounds in 11.6 minutes, a decrease from what he posted his rookie season in points (4.6), shooting percentage (62.7 percent), rebounds (3.6) and minutes played (14.2).

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Bell finished with those numbers despite various opportunities to crack the front-court rotation. First, Warriors coach Steve Kerr held an open competition for the center spot with Damian Jones, Kevon Looney and Bell while Cousins rehabbed his left Achilles tendon. Kerr quickly determined Jones as the definitive starter and Looney as the definitive backup. Bell failed to take advantage of increased minutes after Jones injured his left pectoral muscle on Dec. 1. During those times, Bell either admittedly tried too hard into taking mid-range jumpers, reaching for steals or failing to close out properly on defenders.

Concerns about his maturity also arose. Bell had an argument with Kerr in a team huddle after Kerr became upset with his defensive hustle during mop-up duty in a regular-season game in late January against the Los Angeles Lakers. Later in March, the Warriors suspended Bell for one game without pay after charging a gift shop candle to assistant coach Mike Brown. Though this was part of a prank other teammates performed on each other, the Warriors took exception to Bell performing the stunt on a coach.

Still, the Warriors liked how Bell accepted responsibility and eventually became prepared for an unexpected role. With the Warriors losing Kevin Durant against Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals with a strained left calf, the Warriors entered a decisive Game 6 without much depth. Bell represented one of several key reserves to excel. He finished with four points, two rebounds, two blocks, and an assists in 11 minutes. Kerr then played Bell for an average of 13.5 minutes per game in the Warriors’ four-game sweep over Portland in the Western Conference Finals. Kerr did not lean on Bell as much in the NBA Finals for match-up purposes.

Nonetheless, the Warriors see Bell’s upside. They still hold out some hope he can sharpen his fundamentals and work habits, while leaning on his athleticism and speed. Bell will soon find out how much the Warriors will invest in his potential.

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