It was just about one year ago.
Still stinging from a painful finals loss, I’m sure I’m not the only one who freaked out when Kevin Durant announced that his next chapter would be written with the Golden State Warriors. It was all fireworks and patriotic songs from there, as the Warriors marched their way to their second championship in three years.
It’s fitting, then, that as we saunter into the Fourth of July this year, our newsfeed is livened up with just about every Warriors player besides Durant (yet) announcing their return.
Let’s look at all these new deals, and see what it all means for the Warriors. Then stay for the end, where we summarize what the rest of the league is doing. Strap in for a long read, because here we go!
Big contracts for multiple Warriors players
Stephen Curry was probably the biggest bargain in professional sports over the past three years, so it’s no surprise that both he and the Warriors didn’t hesitate to ring up the largest contract in NBA history.
$44M: What the Warriors paid Steph Curry for the last four seasons.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 1, 2017
$40.2M: What Curry will AVERAGE in EACH of the next five seasons.
But still, some are probably wondering if this was the wisest course. In a crowded NBA constrained by the salary cap, it would be nice if your biggest star took something less than the maximum contract in order to allow the team to fill out with the best available players (rather than simply those we can afford).
Well, please allow me to tell those people wondering about that to shut up - in the most polite way possible via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated.
He has made four straight All-Star Games, he’s played in three straight Finals, he’s won two titles and two MVP awards, and he’s missed less than five games in each of the past five seasons. Along the way, he’s led the league in individual plus/minus and three-point proficiency, carried Golden State to a record-setting 73-win season, and lifted the Warriors’ offensive efficiency and point differential to insane heights. Curry has done all of that while avoiding any hint of off-court issues and playing a key role in integrating his MVP teammate, Kevin Durant.
Steph deserves this, and ownership can afford the taxes. I’ve never heard of “The Comeback” before, but Andrew Bucholtz articulated the counterpoint to this criticism pretty well here:
Curry’s contract is a lot of money, to be sure, but it’s nowhere near what he might be able to get in an unrestricted system. The same can be said for James and every other superstar out there; artificial limits on what an individual player can make mean that the NBA’s best will never get what teams would be willing to offer them.
Third year of Shaun Livingston's deal is partially guaranteed, source says. Deal structure appears to be: $8M, $8M, $2M guaranteed— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 1, 2017
This deal is commensurate with Shaun Livingston’s role as the team’s primary backup point guard. As some GSoM commentors and I were discussing last week, there’s really no good way to cheaply replace what Livingston offers. Signing him to the third year (even with just a partial guarantee) is what it takes to get a player of this caliber to return. At this price, Livingston is actually something of a bargain.
Sources close to Andre Iguodala reporting agreed to terms to return to the bay....— Andre Iguodala (@andre) July 2, 2017
First of all, yay! It’s no secret around here that Andre Iguodala is one of my favorite Warriors of all time. As I headed out on Friday for a camping trip that would take me offline through the entire weekend, all I knew was that he did not plan on meeting with the Warriors at the start of free agency, but rather, our Western competition: the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.
The Rockets went as far as to make a formal contract offer, with one rumor pegging that offer at around $48 million for two years.
Would Iguodala really have left? Or was this just a strategy to force the Warriors to up their offer? As with many things related to the often-cryptic Iguodala, it was probably a little of both.
Andre Iguodala negotiations— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 2, 2017
1st offer: 2 yrs at $12-14 mil per, partial in 3rd
2nd offer: 3 years, $45 mil
3rd: 3 yrs, $48 mil
Steve Kerr, Bob Myers got job done w/ Andre Iguodala & associates at a posh hotel in Beverly Hills. The threat of him leaving was very real.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 2, 2017
As Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group eloquently described, this was something of a test case for ownership:
The Warriors players know exactly how profitable this team has become in recent years, and they know those numbers will climb higher and higher when Chase Center opens, which is scheduled for November 2019.
So Iguodala was the raw test case, pretty much at the apex of this franchise’s financial and championship ascent, for ownership passing some of the excess profit to a key player and leader determined not to take any less than possible.
Now, we have the core of this team locked up for another couple of seasons and, for a team as top-heavy as this current impressive iteration of the Warriors, that’s about all you can ask for. Obviously, things are going to get very tricky in 2019 when Klay Thompson’s up for a new deal, but for now? Let’s bask in the glory and thank our lucky star that owner Joe Lacob and his ownership group are so cognizant of the costs and challenges required to survive at the top of the NBA mountain.
Iguodala (and his family) seem to be pretty darn happy to be here. As he told NBA TV, his son cried when he heard that they were looking at other teams (I felt the same way, Andre, Jr.! Don’t be ashamed!):
One last player to note: wily veteran big man, David West also will be returning for one more year. Although it is probably the least important signing of the offseason thus far, but still worth noticing for a few reasons:
One, he remains a highly effective big man, a terrific passer with a reliable midrange jump shot. Two, he is a highly respected player who has the ear of Green, who benefits from the presence of veteran with the gravitas of West. Three, by coming back on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum ($2.32 million) West gives the Warriors -- who will hit the luxury-tax threshold -- maximum bang for the buck.
Coach Steve Kerr frequently refers to two players as the “adults in the room,” and those players are Iguodala and West.
Finalists for the remaining Warriors roster spots are beginning to emerge
Nick Young somehow has been put into the mix for an Ian Clark replacement:
As @wojespn reports, Nick Young considering Warriors. Chance at a ring big to him; teams like Pels have more playing time/shots to offer.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 2, 2017
Not sure that I’m a fan of this. Obviously, this move has been vetted internally and discussed with ex-Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, who actually seemed to have gotten through to Young, according to Ethan Sears of the New York Post:
His effective field goal percentage went up by over 10 points, from 44.2 in 2015-16 to 56.4 last season, and Young’s 3-point gunning became more refined. He bought into the team game Walton preached. As a disciple of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Walton tried to install a similar culture during his first season in Los Angeles, and Young was perhaps his greatest success story.
This deal would take up most or all of the mid-level exception but would solve the Warriors desire for bench shooting. What confuses me is the other side of the ball though. Perhaps, like Ian Clark, the Warriors will be happy with Nick Young as a pure offensive player off the end of the bench. He is not a good defender, so maybe the team sees another reclamation project similar to what they managed with Javale McGee last season? There are still rumblings around Vince Carter (among others) filling in as a ball-handling wing off the bench. Surprisingly, in spite of Carter publicly stating that he would come play here for cheap, there has been very little traction here (as far as we know). That article also lists Zach Randolph and Michael Beasley, but I think both of those are extremely unlikely for a variety of reasons.
Marcus Thompson published an excellent primer that details some of the Warriors’ needs and options, moving forward from here (apologies for the extended block quote, but I think this is about as perfectly succinct summary of our big man needs as can be written):
JaVale McGee is interested in returning to the Warriors. It would have to be for the minimum, $2.11 million. The question is whether he gets a bigger offer in free agency.
From what I’m hearing, he would take less money to stay with the Warriors if it is close. But with David West already re-signed, what would McGee coming back mean for Zaza Pachulia,
Keeping all three seems like a lot. Because in addition to Jones, the Warriors drafted Jordan Bell, who would play center for the Warriors. With Draymond Green, West, Jones, Bell and Kevon Looney on the roster, they have four options at center. Adding McGee and Pachulia pushes them to seven — which they had last season but Jones, James Michael McAdoo and Kevon Looney rarely played.
Note: Looney is still under contract so the Warriors will have to dump his salary somewhere or cut him and eat the $1.47 million if they want to open up that roster spot.
One other name that I’ve seen lightly mentioned in some places is former Warriors Ekpe Udoh. I couldn’t find any concrete ties to a meeting or legitimate interest, so while I dream about it, please check out this profile on Udoh’s rise in the Turkey basketball scene.
Around the NBA - everyone else is making moves too
As per my usual, this links post got way too wordy, so here are some quick hit links for the rest of your NBA news.
Paul George: Finally got out of Indy, he moves to OKC Thunder and will play alongside Russell Westbrook in what is undoubtedly one of the most athletically impressive duos in the NBA.
Blake Griffin: Signed a five-year, $175 million deal with the Clippers. I actually like this deal. If he can stay healthy, something tells me the Clippers will shock the world by not being a total disaster next season. Even without Chris Paul, and J.J Redick (who took a one-year, $23 million deal with the 76ers).
Paul Millsap: Is on the move! He signed a three-year, $90 million deal with the Nuggets. This gives the Nuggets one hell of a beefy frontcourt, but I need to see them play well for an entire season before jumping on the bandwagon.
Taj Gibson: Will reunite with ex-coach Tom Thibodeau by migrating to the Minnesota Timberwolves on a two-year, $28 million deal. Joining him on the Wolves, Jeff Teague is on the move too, with a three-year, $57 million deal. That’s a great squad now.
Serge Ibaka: Has agreed to a three-year, $65 million deal with the Raptors.
PJ Tucker: Will be donning a Houston Rockets uniform for the next few years, after signing a very reasonable four-year, $32 million deal.
Still with me? We will keep this story updated as news emerges, but please share any relevant links in the comments below!