The Golden State Warriors have some hard choices on the horizon, but making one or two of them now could make the rest easier down the road.
Steph Curry will make $215 million over the next four years and, in all likelihood, finish his career in a Dubs uniform. The same certainty does not necessarily apply to Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Curry’s partners in dynasticism over the last decade in the Bay. The futures of first-time All Star Andrew Wiggins and breakout offensive player Jordan Poole in Golden State are also up in the air.
The potential exists for all of these long-term contract concerns to come to a head next offseason. But the Warriors’ front office also has the option to clear some of the financial uncertainty up by offering a couple of extensions now in the hopes of keeping everyone together — or, at worst, losing just one of the four players in question to a competing franchise.
The question then becomes: With whom do the Warriors begin? Despite the way Green’s offensive game has aged and the money he can command is probably incommensurate with what he can offer on the court, one NBA writer believes the Dubs need to start with a deal for him and let the rest of the dominoes fall from there.
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Green, Wiggins Are Dominoes Who Should Fall First in Golden State
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report on Wednesday, August 10, laid out the argument for locking up Green first, and then Wiggins, while kicking the can down the road on Thompson and Poole.
The Warriors will do whatever they can to repeat as champions, but it’s nearly time to make serious financial decisions. There has to be a limit to how much the franchise can pay out with massive luxury taxes ($400-$500 million could be a reality if Golden State keeps everyone).
Draymond Green can opt out early and start a new extension starting at almost $31 million with the 2023-24 season. An extension for Andrew Wiggins could begin at a projected $39.9 million. Klay Thompson is less urgent, locked in at $43.2 million for 2023-24, but he can add three additional seasons starting at nearly $49 million.
Knowing how much Green and Wiggins will cost might help budget for Jordan Poole. The Warriors should wait on Thompson and try to compromise with Green and Wiggins — though neither may be eager to rush into a smaller extension.
To Pincus’ point, Green has already stated unequivocally that he expects the team to offer him a max deal. Such an agreement, however, would pay the now-33-year-old Green north of $164 million over the next five seasons and wouldn’t expire until the forward turns 37, per Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.
If the organization decides to pay Green that much money, it all but closes the door on the ability to keep both Wiggins and Poole, assuming that Thompson will be the same kind of priority that Curry was.
“All indications, though, are that the Warriors have no plans to offer Green a maximum extension, and there isn’t any current traction on any type of extension,” Slater and Thompson wrote on July 27.
Wiggins, too, is hard to justify at a full max that begins at $40 million a season and pushes upward from there. The two-way forward’s defense and rebounding proved particularly crucial to the Dubs’ title run this season, and while he struggled from behind the arc as the postseason wore on, Wiggins shot a career best 39.3 percent from the 3-point line in 2021-22.
“For Wiggins and the Warriors to meet in the same ballpark, all indications are the opening number must start below his max. But how much lower? That’s the larger question that’ll define whether anything gets done,” Slater and Thompson explained.
Warriors Need Green, Wiggins to Take Less Than Max Extensions
Both players have indicated publicly their desire to continue playing basketball in the Bay Area, which means they may be willing to work with the Warriors on tactical discounts. The reality that Green and Wiggins may not command maximum contract values from other desirable destinations around the NBA could also factor in to the numbers each man is willing to accept.
“There aren’t a ton of teams with enough projected cap space to easily offer Wiggins a contract that begins near $35 million or above,” Slater and Thompson said. “But they exist.”
It would probably be erroneous simply to assume that Golden State will offer Thompson a max contract extension when the time comes, as he looked a bit slower and a bit older this season coming off two catastrophic injuries (an ACL tear and an achilles tendon rupture) that sidelined him for two and a half years.
That said, aside from Curry, there may be no player in Golden State history more popular with the fans than Thompson. And if he comes back looking more like his pre-injury self next season, parting ways with the sharpshooter would be a hard sell for general manager Bob Myers and head coach Steve Kerr, indeed.
Another factor to consider is that the NBA’s salary cap is expected to continue to rise annually, with a spike likely coming in 2024 following the negotiation of new television contracts. Under that scenario, $30 million to $40 million for players like Green and Wiggins won’t necessarily carry the sting that those salaries do today.
Such will certainly be the case if the Warriors prove able to pay them both, re-sign Thompson, extend Poole and keep the core of a championship team together for years to come.