The Future Of The Golden State Warriors Looks Pretty Bloody Grim
— Updated on 17 May 2023

The Future Of The Golden State Warriors Looks Pretty Bloody Grim

— Updated on 17 May 2023

If you aren’t winning basketball games, retaining the most expensive roster in NBA history probably isn’t that much fun. A short year after the 2021-2022 NBA Championship-winning Golden State Warriors managed to bottle lightning, the dynasty now has to face the music regarding their future as a team.

Last season, the post-KD Warriors had something to prove. Stephen Curry set out to capture that elusive Finals MVP, Klay Thompson was returning from a two-year absence due to injury, and there were a bunch of new young guys like Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins that weren’t present for their previous championship years. After two seasons of missing the playoffs, the Dubs rose to the occasion and silenced every doubter.

But the problem with simultaneously having two different timelines (a young core and an old core) doesn’t just exist on the court – it exists on the balance sheet. That revelation has come as a major smack in the face to the Warriors. Literally. Back in October, 33-year-old Draymond Green punched 23-year-old Jordan Poole, which the world discovered through leaked footage of team practice.

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Green was in a pending situation – publicly negotiating for a max contract – whereas Poole had just signed a four-year US$123 million (AU$184.7 million) extension that very month. Andrew Wiggins also signed a four-year USS$109 million (AU$163.7 million) agreement.

Green currently has a US$27.6 million (AU$41.4 million) player option that he could decline to become a free agent this off-season; despite the fact he’s repeatedly stated his intentions to retire as a member of the Golden State Warriors in the future, ideally at the same time as Steph and Klay.

He’s arguably the best defender of his era. This season, the Warriors had a defensive rating of 109.6 when Green was on the court and 115.3 when he wasn’t. Green held opponents to 39% from the field when he was the closest defender, which was second-best in the league according to Second Spectrum tracking.

His stats might not suggest it, but he’s also a staple of the Warriors’ patented motion offence. His decade of experience in setting ball screens for the Splash Brothers and making plays out of the short roll would be a near-impossible thing to replace.

The teams with the cap space to give Green more money include the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, and San Antonio Spurs. But as invaluable as Draymond Green may be to the Warriors, it’s unlikely that any of those teams would want his talents for that much money. It’s even more unlikely that Green would want to play for a team that’s rebuilding after winning four championships. In short, Draymond needs the Warriors, and the Warriors need Draymond.

Klay Thompson, on the other hand, is also entering the last year of his deal and will soon be eligible for an eye-watering four-year US$220 million (AU$330.3 million) extension. Given that would involve paying a player that’s shown signs of regression post-injuries US$61 million (AU$91.3 million) in 2027-28, the season he turns 37, offering this would be malpractice on the Warriors’ end. It’s rumoured that Thompson may take a pay cut just to remain a part of the team.

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The new collective bargaining agreement’s (CBA) restrictions beginning in July will also present difficulties when it comes to improving the roster. It’ll mean there’s a good chance that won’t be able to keep players like JaMychel Green and Donte DiVincenzo, as well as impact how much salary they can take back in a potential trade. To add insult to injury, the contract of the president of basketball operations and general manager Bob Myers – AKA the architect behind this entire dynasty – is also expiring, and his future with the team is unclear.

The new CBA will also mean a whopping luxury tax bill. If the Golden State Warriors keep all of its current players in the near future, billionaire owner Joe Lacob may be required to cough up a combined US$457 million (AU$684.6 million) in salary and tax penalties next year, potentially ballooning even further when the roster is filled out in free agency.

They can’t just blow the whole thing up, either. Steph Curry is still one of the best players in the world at 35 years old and it’s important to maximise your window of competing with such a generational talent on your side. Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and Kevon Looney showed promise in their recent title season, although they haven’t made the leap in ability that Golden State had hoped for. With three years left of Curry, the Warriors need to acquire quality supporting pieces that also fit this win-now timeline.

The team had an 11-30 away record. The six-game Western Conference Semifinals series against the Lakers proved the limitations of the current roster, particularly when it comes to frontcourt offensive skill. If the Warriors don’t want an ugly ending to this storied iteration of the team, it’ll entail spending a lot of money, adjusting their style of play, and hurting some feelings along the way.

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