clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The next decision for the Warriors

The NBA champions have a deep roster and are going to be paying the luxury tax. Should they keep the #30 draft pick, trade back, or trade out?

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

First of all, I just have to say congratulations to the Warriors and my fellow Warriors fans! It feels good to be rooting for the NBA champions, especially after years and years of screaming my lungs out for the Felton Spencers and Chris Porters of the world. In my season preview from last October, I said: "I expect the moves Myers made to be improvements. The bench is deeper. The coaching staff is more creative... the sky's the limit for this well constructed roster... Can the 2014-15 Golden State Warriors stay healthy? ...If the answer is "Yes", then the Warriors should advance deep into the playoffs, and maybe all the way to 16 playoff wins."

Now the magical 2014-15 NBA season is over. We've crowned the champs, popped the champagne, and held the parade. If we want the team to successfully defend the title, it's time to get back to work. The first order of business? The NBA draft is being held this Thursday. It's right around the corner and we've barely taken the time to discuss it!

Obviously, there are a few reasons why it hasn't been at the center of our attention, but the decisions made this week could have a dramatic effect on the team moving forward, and there are a lot of variables to consider.

First, there's the salary cap implications to consider. I've already laid out the cost of keeping the team intact (approximately $151 million, including the #30 pick). It's hard to see ownership wanting to pay more than double for the same roster with the only addition being whomever is selected 30th overall. The pick is slated to make a guaranteed $950K, which translates to about $5 million when you factor in the 4.25:1 luxury tax that the team would be paying.

Second, there's the rumor that the Warriors and David Lee have agreed to part ways this summer. Given the fact that Lee is due for $15,493,680, it seems likely that the Warriors will have to sweeten the pot to move him without taking too much salary back. If the team can move Lee without taking any salary back, it could save ownership claose to $50 million dollars in salary and taxes. If there's one thing I've learned about the ultra-rich, it's that they hate paying taxes, so I think it's safe to assume that this is somewhat of a priority for the management team. It's one thing to pay $10-15 million in taxes; but $50 million just isn't going to happen.

To move Lee without taking salary back, Bob Myers will have to find an organization that has the requisite cap room to add Lee, and isn't looking to make their big free agent moves this year. If the Warriors have to add some value to Lee to move him, the first round pick is probably the first asset gone.

Lee has some value. He can still play, and is only a few seasons removed from being a Western Conference All Star. He's also about as good a teammate as anyone in the league, and the model of professionalism in the modern NBA. His style just doesn't bring the value to the Warriors roster that his contract costs. The real question is how much does it cost the team to move him, and what do the Warriors take back in return? Could the Warriors trade Lee and the pick for the 76ers' #35 pick (or something similar)?

There are some teams with cap space that could use him for a season just to teach their young guys how to behave in the league. Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles all have a ton of room for a one year rental, and they all could use a guy with Lee's character. He would be a captain on any of those teams. I don't know if Lee ends up with one of these three franchises, but I believe in Bob Myers' ability to move him. He did, after all, turn $20 million worth of Biedrins and Jefferson into enough cap space to sign Andre Iguodala. Merlin himself is wondering how the man pulled off that kind of magic.

Some people have speculated that the team could trade Lee for a player that doesn't fit on their current roster, but it doesn't help the team to trade him for another big contract  that doesn't fill a real need (like Gerald Wallace). To make the tax implications worthwhile, let alone losing two assets (Lee and the pick), it would have to be a player that actually improves the team.

The third, and perhaps most important variable, is the idea that the team could get a valuable player with the pick. Bob Myers has had some stunning success with late picks before... Draymond Green may very well be the second most important player on the roster, and Festus Ezeli has developed into a very serviceable center. There are no guarantees in the draft, as evidenced by former Warriors Nemanja Nedovic and Charles Jenkins, but it seems like every season a late pick becomes a valuable player.

Is Rakeem Christmas going to be a solid contributor? Are Robert Upshaw's priorities in the right place? Is Christian Wood the next Giannis Antetokounmpo? Of course, if the team were to select an overseas player like Guillermo Hernangomez, they could just leave him in Spain for a year or two to continue developing before adding his $950K to the team's salary figure.

There's also the idea of trading back into the second round, which would accomplish two things. First of all, it would mean that the player drafted wouldn't necessarily have a guaranteed contract. Considering the crapshoot that that late picks can be, that flexibilty could be invaluable. Second, it might provide the team with another future second round pick. More assets are always good, right? The players I listed above are projected to go in the second round anyways, though mock drafts are always wrong, especially the later picks. However, you don't want to trade back from the Rudy Gobert pick and wind up with Nemanja Nedovic (ahem), so if you have the chance to take the guy you like, you have to just take him and pay him.

Of course, if the team doesn't trade the pick with Lee, and doesn't see any players worth drafting, they could always decide to try and move the pick for a future draft pick or two.

As you can see, GM Bob Myers has his hands full this week, and the Warriors' Voltron of minds has some serious decisions to make in the next few days. I imagine that Myers is working the phones right now, trying his best to improve the team. This is his time of year, and the work he's done in previous summers has had a lot to do with the trophies and parades that we've been talking about for most of the last week. He's the top executive in the league, and has earned the benefit of the doubt so far.

By Thursday night, we should have a pretty good idea what they think is best for the team moving forward. Until then, we can only guess. And discuss what we would do if we were in his shoes, of course.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Golden State of Mind Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Golden State Warriors news from Golden State of Mind