The Cost of Doing Bidness. From Thomas Lee:
As the Warriors head into free agency, it has been rumored that Kevin Durant will take slightly less in order for the Warriors to possibly re-sign Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. It is also assumed that Curry will receive a five-year, $205 million max extension, and deservedly so. However, doesn’t that make it extremely hard to re-sign Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in 2019 and 2020, respectively?
Critics complain that the CBA didn’t do its job in preventing a super team. I argue otherwise. The Warriors lucked out with both an undervalued Curry contract and an unexpected cap increase that allowed them to recruit Durant. However, the biggest impediments in keeping the team together will be the luxury tax (and repeater tax) penalties, coupled with the 8 percent annual raise built into contracts for players re-signing with their own teams. Curry is expected to be paid $48 million in 2021-22!
If the goal is to retain Thompson, Green, Durant, and Curry for the next five years, it seems like the only way to do so is if Curry and Durant take a financial sacrifice (and Green and Thompson to follow suit in the future).
How would these solutions work? Curry essentially matches Durant’s salary year to year, starting with $31.8 million with annual 5 percent increases, resulting in a five-year, $172 million payout vs. his $205 million max extension. And/or, Curry’s salary is front-loaded, so that less of his salary counts towards the repeater tax penalty in a few years. In exchange, Curry should have player options for his fourth and fifth years to keep the pressure on the Warriors organization to do him right.
Ultimately, it comes down to sacrifice. Either the Core Four agree to sacrifice by taking less than max deals or ownership agrees to cough up $200 million in tax penalty payments in the 2018-2019 season and beyond.
It’s gonna take way more than $200 million in tax payments to keep this group together four more years, Thomas, unless we have vastly different definitions of who comprises that group. (Former Brooklyn Nets executive Bobby Marks, writing for The Vertical, put the number to keep the core Warriors together for the next four years at $1.4 billion in salary and taxes). Having said that, owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber surely knew what the price tag would be if they went all in for KD long term, and are indeed willing to write those massive tax checks.
There’s no way the Warriors will offer Curry less than the max after he’s outperformed his current deal by so much, and no way he’d accept it if they did. Curry is eligible for a Designated Veteran Player contract that would pay him 35 percent of the cap next season; assuming the cap stays at its projected $102 million for 2017-18, that would mean a first-year salary for Curry of $35.7 million, with annual eight percent raises thereafter, Curry’s in line for a five-year deal worth more than $207 million.
Durant is reportedly willing to take a little less than the 35 percent max he could get from Golden State. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s what most anticipate -- a 1-and-1 deal that pays him $31.8 million next season (a 20 percent max raise from his 2016-17 salary of $26.54 million) with a player option for 2018-19. The projected salaries of Curry and Durant, along with the actual 2017-18 salaries of Draymond Green ($16.4 million) and Klay Thompson ($17.8 million) would total $101.7 million, give or take a nickel -- just underneath the projected cap.
The Warriors could then apply the savings from a (slightly) smaller Durant contract to try and re-sign Iguodala (I’m aware there’s specific timing involved here that requires Golden State to make certain moves first; we’re just looking for now at the overall outlay) and/or Livingston. It’s hard to see a scenario where Iguodala leaves, but I think it will be harder to keep Livingston. At 31, this may be a last chance for the universally respected vet to get a significant payday in free agency.
Even if Golden State pays Iggy, say, $12 million next season, the Warriors could still stay under the current projection for the tax threshold next season, $121 million. Rookie Patrick McCaw and young vets Kevon Looney and Damian Jones make a total of $4.09 million combined; that would come out to $117.79 million for eight players. Maybe you put another million into a vet like David West if he wants to return, but that’s about all. The rest of the roster will be minimum salaried guys.
It’s crucial that the Warriors avoid the tax in 2017-18 because they may well pay it in 2018-19 and will almost surely pay it in 2019 and beyond. As you note, Thompson will be unrestricted in 2019 and Green will be in 2020. The Warriors could avoid potential repeater taxes by dealing Thompson before he’s a free agent, of course, but it’s hard to see that scenario as plausible, either. My guess is ownership bites the bullet for a year and then sees if the gate and suite receipts from the new arena that is set to open in 2019 can offset some of those taxes.
Of course, we need to see how much revenue the league and its teams generate by then, too; with the Kings’ new building in Sacramento now open and other new arenas on line to open in Detroit (next season), Milwaukee (2018) and Golden State -- along with planned renovations in Atlanta, Utah, Minnesota and Cleveland the next couple of years -- there may be a significant bump in BRI in the near future that would result in a higher cap (and tax) than is currently projected.
To quote Catherine O’Hara in "Home Alone" ... Kevin!! From Joel Brown:
All the chatter following their Finals loss is how the Cavaliers need an athletic wing to deal with the Dubs, almost solely focused on a hypothetical Paul George trade. A young, athletic wing ... sounds suspiciously like one Andrew Wiggins WHO THEY ALREADY HAD and I know for a fact you were one of the stronger advocates of them keeping (I agreed). Lack of athleticism is what undid the 2014 Miami Heat and seems to have come back to bite this Cavs team too, is it time LeBron The GM had a re-think of filling out the roster with old 3-point shooters?
My wider point and actual question for you is: do you think the Cavs would be better now had they kept Wiggins?
I rate Kevin Love very highly and wish he got more props for his ability, but he has not done much in any of The Finals series.
Can’t re-write history, Joel. The Cavs won a ‘chip with Love. Even though he was slowed in The 2016 Finals with a concussion, he had a huge Game 7, including that huge stop on Steph Curry in isolation down the stretch. And he played extremely well in Cleveland’s one win over Golden State this year. I thought the Cavs should have kept Wiggins not because I believed he’d be ready for a Finals run now, but because he would have given them a bridge a possible future if LeBron ever got happy feet again and left a second time. But Love had his best season this year in Cleveland, and there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t do as well or better next year if he’s still there.
POSTSEASON MVP WATCH
(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)
1) Kevin Durant (39 ppg, 6 rpg, 5 apg, .700 FG, 1.000 FT): To see Durant and his team in the post-Game 5, Finals MVP glow of victory was to see relief as much as joy. Long year, but the end result was what he came to Golden State for: a championship.
2) LeBron James (41 ppg, 13 rpg, 8 apg, .633 FG, .250 FT): Again, the world’s biggest Rorshach test lets people see what they want to see: an incredible player who averaged a triple double in his seventh straight Finals appearance, or an overrated guy who’s now 3-5 in championship series. Lunacy.
3) Stephen Curry (34 ppg, 6 rpg, 10 apg, .500 FG, .800 FT): KD, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
4) Kawhi Leonard: Season complete.
5) John Wall: Season complete.
BY THE NUMBERS
5 -- Games that Detroit’s Reggie Bullock and Indiana’s Monta Ellis each were suspended at the start of next season by the NBA after violating the terms of the league’s Anti-Drug program. (The league’s CBA cites a five-game suspension after a third positive test for marijuana.) Ellis has two years and $22.9 million left on his current deal with the Pacers.
5 -- Days that Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman spent in North Korea last week, where he may or may not have been an unofficial envoy for President Donald Trump. Rodman, however reportedly did not get an audience with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un; Rodman, for some reason, had a copy of "Where’s Waldo" among the items in a gift bag he wanted to give to Kim.
6 -- Previous occasions, per USA Today editor Adi Joseph, that an NBA team has traded the first overall pick in the Draft after the Draft order was completed but before the following season began. Boston and Philadelphia, of course, are on the verge of a swap of the first overall pick in Thursday’s Draft for the third overall selection. The previous times, per Joseph: 1950, when the Celtics, ironically, traded overall No. 1 pick Chuck Share, who’d signed with another league, to Detroit for guard Bill Sharman -- who went on to a Hall of Fame career both as a player and coach; 1957, when Rochester traded “Hot Rod” Hundley to Minneapolis along with four other players for Clyde Lovellette and Jim Paxson, Sr.; 1980, when Boston traded Joe Barry Carroll to Golden State for Robert Parish and the third pick overall, with which the Celtics selected Kevin McHale (Warriors fans celebrated thusly for the next decade); 1986, when Philly sent Brad Daugherty to Cleveland for Roy Hinson and cash; 1993, when Orlando sent Chris Webber to Golden State for the number three pick overall (with which the Magic selected Penny Hardaway), and first-round picks in 1996, 1998 and 2000; and 2014, when Cleveland sent Andrew Wiggins, along with Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young, to Minnesota for Kevin Love.
I’M FEELIN’ ...
1) Congrats to Diana Taurasi, now the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history after passing Tina Thompson Sunday. Taurasi, as Kevin Durant Tweeted Sunday, gets buckets, and she has throughout her soon-to-be Hall of Fame career. What a great basketball player and winner, and ambassador for the game.
2) Great to see Lonzo Ball addressing his father’s controversial ways both with humorand with love on Father’s Day.
3) I loved going to the Forum in Inglewood, but those feelings are obviously wrapped in the nostalgia of seeing the Showtime Lakers. The Clippers do not have that history. But if they’re going to build their own arena in Inglewood as part of the NFL complex that will ultimately be home to the Rams, that could be very, very cool, too.
4) Is this real? Seriously, is this real or one of those CGI things?
NOT FEELIN’ ...
1) Frankly, I think all White House visits by sports teams have outlived their usefulness. They’re all glorified photo ops. Having said that, I’m not sure why my friend Sally Jenkins, the award-winning columnist at The Washington Post, thinks it’s the unique responsibility of the Golden State Warriors to go to the White House -- if invited -- and shake hands with President Trump, with whom many of the team’s players and Coach Steve Kerr have publicly and vociferously criticized. She says it would be a good example for the Warriors to publicly meet with someone with whom they strongly disagree, as a demonstration of a much-needed exercise in civility in our collective discourse. Perhaps. But it seems here that the onus of turning the other cheek, of extending a hand, is again put on (mostly) African-American people, these on the Warriors.
Too many times, people of color are always asked to be first to do the right thing, to tone down the rhetoric. But, in this case, what would the point be? No one who supports Trump is going to change their minds on anything because the President shakes Stephen Curry’s hand. And the opposite, of course, is just as true. And if Curry or Kerr or someone else used that moment to speak truth to power, to tell Trump what they think of him or his policies, can you imagine the furor? “How disrespectful!” “How dare they speak that way in the White House!” In this case, it’s probably better to just let everyone go their separate ways. If either party really wants to reach out, it wouldn’t be hard for them to get in touch with one another.
2) Certainly does not sound, based on the careful comments of Atlanta’s new GM, Travis Schlenk, as if Paul Millsap is a sure bet to return to the Hawks next season.
3) Y’all are going to have to do Mayweather-McGregor without me. I’m not spending another sawbuck (or, more accurately, a half-dozen or so sawbucks) on a fight that turns out to be a bigger dud than AfterMASH.
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