I wish this was the last time we’d have to talk about this, but questions about looming offseason decisions will be hanging over everything the Golden State Warriors do this season. Coming into training camp, there was an almost cavalier attitude about it. Everyone spoke of “living in the now” and “enjoying this season” because there’s no certainty that this won’t be the last season for this super iteration of the Golden State Warriors.
But everyone has been so damn coy, that it has been tough to read the tea leaves here. There are two main questions:
1) Would Durant or Thompson leave the team next offseason as free agents?;
2) Will the Warriors even be interested in maintaining the team as-is, in light of the looming costs associated with bringing back both of these high priced free agents?
We won’t know the answer to the first question for some time (though that has not slowed the rampant speculation in the slightest, nor will it throughout the season). But that second question is a little easier to address because it is a question with some surety.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob is just as famous for planning ahead as anything else. His “light years ahead” quip has become something of a tongue in cheek team motto. But the point is: you KNOW the ownership has discussed this issue extensively. However, to date, on the record answers from team officials have been too vague to really have any value.
Coach Steve Kerr blasted through the highly dubious rhetoric on Sunday with the clearest official message yet.
Reporter: "Given the economics of the game, is there any thought that this is the last go around with this core group?"— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 14, 2018
Steve Kerr: "No"
"Can't make it any clearer than that"
Estimates vary, but the number circulating out there is around $300 million. That’s the magic number that various folks have estimated as the potential cost of retaining the services of both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson after this season. Old friend of the blog, Patrick Murray, already added his math up, and wrote in Forbes that it would be feasible for the Warriors to pay that much.
But it’s not our money. It’s one thing to do some quick math and deduce that the Warriors could conceivably cover the bill, but an entirely other calculus is required to figure out if the Warriors will pay out so much. The luxury tax bills will not be small:
Imagine having to write a lump sum check to the NBA of $200 million FOR LUXURY TAX pic.twitter.com/wbTeqJJ70k— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) July 3, 2017
So $200 million or so, per year.
That’s quite a lot of money to pay out, but I think Lacob and the Warriors know that they’d be getting what they paid for. Going for their fourth title this year, Golden State has already secured a place in the annals of the NBA. How much would it be worth to further chase your legendary legacy? For the Warriors, at least we know about how much it would cost — only time will tell if the franchise thinks it’s worth it.
Sure Durant (or any other player) could choose to leave, but the Warriors do at least control some of their own destiny here; it’s comforting to see a team official who would be privy to organizational thinking give such a clear indication that they aren’t going to throw in the towel on this run just because it’s getting insanely expensive.