Sitting at 18-2, the Golden State Warriors look like they’ve rediscovered their swagger. The ball is pinging around the court, Steph Curry is making defenses’ heads spin, and Draymond Green is back to his jovial best.
Klay Thompson is due to return from injury in mid-to-late December, and the team has three exceptionally gifted young players acquired from their last two drafts. Oh, and we can’t forget that Andrew Wiggins has developed into a reliable three-and-d prospect who can explode for 25+ points or rattle the rim with a thunderous dunk.
All-in-all, the Warriors have things pretty good a quarter of the way through the 2021-22 NBA season. Will, the team with the NBA championship this year? It’s probably too soon to say, but you can definitely expect them to be challenging for a spot in both the conference and NBA finals.
However, all good things come at a price, and for the Warriors, that price projects to be around $131.1 million in luxury tax this year.
Salary Cap Insider Lists Warriors as Ultimate Tax Offender
In a recent piece for Bleacher Report, salary cap guru Eric Pincus dived into some of the league’s most precarious cap situations. Of course, you can’t discuss a team’s potential luxury tax bill without casting envious glances towards the Warriors – not because they’re immune to the luxury tax, but rather because they continually foot insanely large bills like money is going out of fashion.
“Steph Curry is under contract for $261.1 million through the 2025-26 season. Golden State also has three other players earning eight-figure salaries (Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins). James Wiseman, whom the Warriors selected with No. 2 overall in the 2020 NBA draft, is an expensive prospect ($9.2 million) when factoring in taxes,” Pincus wrote when detailing the state of the Warriors luxury bill.
Of course, most front offices in the NBA would be willing to pay a luxury tax bill for a team that dominated the NBA in the late 2010s. And with that core still intact and finally returning to total health for the first time since the 2019 NBA playoffs, it makes sense that the front office are willing to continue footing the bill to see if Steph Curry and Co. can continue to add silverware to the Warriors trophy cabinet as they slowly enter the twilight of their careers.
However, despite the aging years of the Warriors NBA-altering core, their new batch of rookies and sophomores are getting a first-class education in what it takes to win at the NBA level. With the talent level of Wiseman, Moses Moody, and Jonathan Kuminga, it’s possible the team continues to contend for the foreseeable future and continues to pay the associated penalties with keeping such an exceptional group together.
“Golden State could finish with a payroll above $300 million this season between salaries and luxury taxes, and that burden doesn’t project to lighten any time soon,” Pincus noted.
This Years Warriors Will Go as Far as Curry Takes Them
On the back of an MVP caliber season last year, Steph Curry is taking no prisoners this time around. According to Basketball-Reference, the 11-year veteran is averaging 28.6 points, 6.8 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game on shooting splits of 46.6/42.3/94.2.
Curry has been a whirlwind all season, but his performance against the LA Clippers in late November, where he exploded in the second half, was a night where he reminded the world that as long as he’s healthy, the Warriors remain championship contenders.
With the return of the second splash brother in Klay Thompson, Curry will have even more room to operate during the second half of the season, which is frightening when you consider the damage he’s doing to defenses that are doing everything too slow him down.
The Warriors might be paying a premium to keep their core together, but there’s an air of contention around this Golden State team, one that we haven’t felt since their last ring in 2018. Should Curry and co. Lift yet another trophy in 2022; then, every penny would have been money well spent.