Barring a late report coming in, it looks as though the Golden State Warriors have allowed their Traded Player Exception worth almost $10 million to expire by not using it prior to tonight's 9 p.m. PST deadline.
The Warriors' acquired the TPE as a result of the deal that sent Richard Jefferson to the Utah Jazz last year and had a year to use it.
GSW $9.8 million TPE expires 9 p.m. Thurs. Steve Kerr said one good thing about being a coach is not having to answer GM-related questions.— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) July 9, 2014
No shock, but hearing that Warriors are unlikely to be able to use TPE despite a few final attempts. James situation has frozen the market.— Fast Break (@GSWFastBreak) July 11, 2014
It's probably worth noting that the Warriors' inability to find a deal with the TPE probably wasn't necessarily for lack of trying - Rusty Simmons of the Chronicle reported just after 7 p.m. PST tonight that the Warriors were still "sniffing around" for ways to use it to no avail.
The LeBron situation is certainly part of what has prevented the Warriors for using it, but the real explanation might be a bit more complex.
Warriors face salary cap constraints
pinkycheal wrote a fanpost earlier today laying out the basic facts about the TPE and some of the Warriors' potential options, but the bottom line is that the Warriors had some major financial limitations in making something happen.
As described previously by SB Nation's Mark Deeks, the Warriors triggered a hard cap for themselves by agreeing to use the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception on Shaun Livingston. Long story short, that means the Warriors' salary absolutely cannot exceed $80.829 million for the 2014-15 season and they no longer have any exceptions to use to add additional salary. And given that they do not plan to go over the luxury tax line this season, they're really left with about $6 million to use on filling out the last spots on their roster.
And GSWs decided Livingston is their back-up PG. I'll end this run with: Warriors are $5.9M under tax line. Zero plans to go over this year.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) July 10, 2014
What's next for the Warriors?
Basically, this means the Warriors are left to pursue guys who will accept a minimum contract ($500,000-$1.5 million, depending on experience) on a playoff team, which certainly limits the possibilities but doesn't make improvement impossible. One goal for the team was to find a stretch four type player and it will be interesting to see if they can lure one within the constraints of that luxury tax limit.
In other words, not using this TPE is hardly the end of the world - the Warriors just have to find a bargain player with what little wiggle room they have left.
As for their cap situation generally, as Deeks described, the Warriors obviously knew what they were doing and were willing to take this risk of being limited for 2014-15 in order to get Livingston - it might make trading for Love a bit more difficult in that they're no longer in position to just absorb bad contracts, but they'll still return the majority of a 2013-14 team that was quite good at full health.
With the chances of a major move seemingly diminished, the team will likely need to rely upon a combination of their coaching change, internal development from some of their younger players, and better luck with injuries helps them win more games in a Western Conference that simply is not getting less competitive.