The Golden State Warriors may be reigning NBA champions but the reality of trying to keep a title-winning team together is already starting to sink in.
A report from The Athletic’s Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II on Thursday outlined the delicate balancing act facing Golden State as it looks to make key contract calls on four key players.
Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are all due contract extensions. No rule in the collective bargaining agreement denies the Warriors from giving each of them a hefty payday.
sources told The Athletic though that “just isn’t viable” for the Warriors as extending all four would leave Golden State with “astronomical luxury-tax penalties well above the record $362 million ($A518m) they paid this past season”.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob told The Athletic in July that having a payroll in excess of $400 million ($A572m) per season just was not realistic.
“Those numbers are not even remotely possible,” Lacob said.
“They’re just not. I’m already in trouble with the rest of the league. We are in trouble for being where we are. In fact, Vegas, I’ll be at the NBA Board of Governors meeting Tuesday, let me tell you. They’re not happy.
“It’s not just us. Other teams are going into the luxury tax now as well. We kind of blew a hole in the system and it’s not a good look from the league’s perspective. They don’t want to see it happen.”
But taking away the smallest hypothetical contract extension, in this case Poole’s, would put the Warriors at a much more comfortable $338 million ($A484m) according to Slater and Thompson II.
“Thus, a storm is brewing,” the pair wrote in the report.
Now, Golden State is left with a tricky decision on who to lock up immediately with new extensions and who to leave in a waiting game.
“As soon as next offseason, one or two of the beloved championship core could be gone,” the report added.
“Even before potential departures, the reactions to how the Warriors’ front office navigates this could reverberate into this season, potentially impacting their chances to defend the crown. “The ramifications feel almost inevitable… the drama could start as soon as next week.
“Next week begins what could be a tumultuous next 12 months as the two timelines are heading towards a financial collision.”
The report went on to break down the contract situations for all four players, starting out with Green. sources told The Athletic Green “wants and believes he deserves” a maximum contract extension.
The 32-year-old is eligible to sign a four-year deal with the Warriors from August 3, hence why Slater and Thompson II warned the drama could start “next week.”
Green is set to make $25.8 million ($A36.9m) next season and $27.5 million ($A39.4m) for 2023-24, although the latter is a player option, meaning he can decline it and instead become a free agent.
Should Green opt out of the final year of his current deal, he can sign a four-year extension worth $138.4 million ($A198m).
All indications according to The Athletic though are that the Warriors have “no plans” to offer Green a maximum extension and would prefer to start talks next summer, when he has one year remaining.
How would Green, a Warriors mainstay, respond to that? Well, The Athletic claims he is “willing to explore outside options” to get the contract he is after.
It is a risk Golden State is willing to take, although the report also adds the “bigger concern” could be how teammate Steph Curry takes the news.
“Multiple sources said Curry would not be happy if the Warriors lost Green because the team didn’t want to pay him,” Slater and Thompson II wrote.
Again, it is a careful balancing act for the Warriors, who would reward Green with a big-money contract in an ideal world but do not want to sacrifice younger pieces in the process.
then there is wigginswho is said to have held “some preliminary discussions” with the Warriors already about an extension after his breakout playoffs campaign.
Golden State is expected to prioritize extending Wiggins, who will make $33.6 million ($A48m) in the final season of his deal before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
At 28 years old Wiggins is about to enter the prime of his career and would draw plenty of interest if he hits the open market.
as for PooleOctober 18 is the rookie extension deadline, although there “doesn’t appear to be a level of urgency” from Golden State’s side to open talks according to The Athletic.
The report makes the point that predicting Poole’s likely value is not difficult given Afernee Simons just got a four-year, $100 million ($A143m) contract at Portland while the Knicks offered Jalen Brunson $104 million ($A148m) over four years.
Poole is said to be viewed in that realm and perhaps with even higher upside than both Simons and Brunson if his late-season form is anything to go by.
Poole’s price tag immediately jumped up after he averaged 24.7 points on 47.3 percent overall and 41.9 percent from 3-point land while filling in for an injured Curry in the final 21 games of the regular season.
Thompson is the least likely to get an extension this offseason given he still has two years, $83.8 million ($A120m) guaranteed left on his deal.
That is not expected to be much of an issue for the sharpshooter either, with Thompson tipped to instead focus on getting his body right during the summer.
The 32-year-old could actually be the “answer” to keeping as many members of Golden State’s title-winning squad, according to The Athletic.
“The Warriors desperately need someone to take a discount, and Thompson makes the most sense,” Slater and Thompson wrote.
Regardless, it will be interesting to follow just how the Warriors handle the situation so as to not jeopardize their chances of securing back-to-back titles.