This is a 2018-19 season preview for the Golden State Warriors, in the form of three big questions the team must address this season.
- 1a. How does the team get rest and avoid burnout?
- 1b. How does the team rest while re-tooling the offense to counter switching defenses?
- 2. Which young and old players do they keep?
- 3. What to do about the Klay Thompson’s and Draymond Green’s contracts?
In this installment, we’ll look at #3, what to do about Thompson’s and Green’s contracts?
The collective bargaining agreement will allow Golden State to re-sign all of their 30-and-under All-Star core (Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green) indefinitely through Bird Rights, as long as ownership is willing to pay the massive luxury taxes. Steve Kerr recently made noises about keeping the core together, but he’s not the general manager.
The New Arena
An important backdrop to this whole discussion is the new arena, the Chase Center. The arena construction is on track to be completed in time for the Warriors to move in for the 2019-2020 season. The arena is being financed with private money and a huge dollop of personal seat licenses (refundable after 30 years!). The ticket prices and PSL costs are giving season ticket holders sticker shock, and the team has to delicately manage the regional public relations around leaving its Oakland home for a deluxe arena in the gentrified San Francisco sky. So, on one hand, this means money is going to be very tight as the arena construction races to completion with the inevitable cost over-runs and emergencies, and while Chase Center launches its three-retail-district multiplex economy. On the other hand, the team really needs to be elite during this financial and cultural transition. The organization simply can’t afford a downturn in performance and star power for the next three years. This means some deft team building juggling will be required.
The constraint is ownership profit and cash flow, because salary cap rules allow keeping everyone. Patrick Murray lays out the basic numbers, and if everyone is re-signed, the payroll after taxes will balloon to over $200 million in 2018-19, and potentially up over $300 million in 2021-22. That is a LOT of money for an ownership group that will be tight on cash due to the arena startup.
So, what about the core? Stephen Curry is locked in through 2021-2022, he is the soul of the team and he is the most popular figure in SF Bay Area sports. Kevin Durant will be a free agent after this season and whether or not the Warriors are fortunate enough to three-peat, Durant may well look for new challenges and ways to enhance his legacy. The Warriors will plan to give Durant as much money as he wants and as the NBA will let them, so this decision is out of the Warriors’ hands.
That leaves the questions of Draymond and Klay. The Klay question is more pressing. Klay Thompson is entering his last contract year in 2018-19. Thompson is a rare commodity, a player with star talent who can play off-ball and not complain.
Quiz: Klay Dive, Pop or Curl?
Klay Thompson returned in style against the Suns on Sunday. Without the ball, he still kept the defenders guessing about whether he'd dive, pop or curl on every play. Can you guess better than the defenders? Here's your chance. Co-starring Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Nick Young and Shaun Livingston. By @EricApricot. More videos and full articles at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot.Posted by Golden State of Mind on Monday, April 2, 2018
Quiz 2: Playoff Klay Dive, Curl or Pop?
In Game 5, Klay Thompson broke free of the Spurs double-team traps by energetically cutting off-ball, exhausting defenders who have to chase him and respond to his wily fakes and surprise cuts. Now you get to guess better than the Spurs defenders in our video quiz. By @EricApricot. More videos and full articles at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot.Posted by Golden State of Mind on Friday, April 27, 2018
Why would the Warriors not want to keep the least-polarizing, lowest-maintenance, happiest-to-not-be-The-Man, most-complementary player in the league? Purely money. Why would Klay want to go to another team? Another team could offer more shots, more attention and more leadership, but those don’t appear to interest him.
Golden State would love it if Klay accepted an extension instead of re-signing as an unrestricted free agent in summer 2019. A max extension would save more than $50 million over 5 years compared to a free agent maximum. However, it seems clear that the Warriors can’t afford to keep Klay at the free agent maximum. So if he wants to stay, he would need to accept a discount anyway. Klay began negotiations for an extension before last season, and he’s publicly declared he wants to stay, possibly at a discount from the already-discounted extension rate.
Game 6 Klay Thompson Returns to Save GSW
In Game 6 vs HOU, with elimination looming and down 17 points, GSW was desperate for good defense and smart offense. Klay Thompson answered the call. Watch how GSW attacked HOU's switching defense and got Klay going with 35 huge points. Co-starring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Coach Mike D'Antoni. By @EricApricot. More videos and full aritcles at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricotPosted by Golden State of Mind on Sunday, May 27, 2018
Draymond Green is signed through 2019-20. He has had a famously conflict-ridden relationship with Head Coach Steve Kerr, but the partnership has been very fruitful and seems to have mellowed into a productive if combustible deep bond. In fact, recently, Draymond said only three people in the world have earned his trust: his mother, college coach Tom Izzo, and Steve Kerr.
Furthermore, Draymond benefits from not being the first (or even fourth) option on offense while being given the leadership of the defense. So he wants to stay, but at what discount? This is less clear. He took a small discount on his current contract, and he knows that some kind of discount is necessary to stay. Draymond seems motivated to win Defensive Player of the Year to make himself eligible for a super-max.
Chris Haynes wrote:
With two years and $36 million remaining on his deal, Green is eligible for a three-year, $72 million extension, which would start in 2020-21.
According to league sources, Green will turn the extension down when it’s offered. That’s because if he earns MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or All-NBA Team honors next season, he will be eligible for a super-max contract of five years, $226 million.
So the extension is off the table. That leaves the Warriors the decision of trading him or re-signing him for a potentially massive contract during his declining years. But how will his highly-physical game age? He had a nagging shoulder injury that seemed to hamper his already erratic three-point shot and his usual all-world defense.
Draymond Closes Out The Pels
Pelicans-Warriors series preview! In the Nov 25 game, Draymond Green unleashed a series of smart hustle plays on both ends of the court to close out the victory. Draymond figures to be a pivotal figure in the series, with his strange ability to frustrate the taller Anthony Davis with Sun Tzu military philosophy. Includes a Zaza Pachulia fast break on Cousins which goes about as well as you'd expect. By @EricApricot. More videos and full articles at http://tinyurl.com/ericapricot.Posted by Golden State of Mind on Friday, April 27, 2018
And how will his fiery personality deal with the likely difficult contract negotiations?
So if there is a financial crunch, it feels likely that Golden State will have to choose between Klay and Draymond. The Warriors are likely to punt this decision as long as possible to see what Durant’s decision will be, unless either player is willing to sign an extension with an early discount. If Durant leaves, that makes it a lot easier for both Draymond and Klay to return. If not, that will leave the Warriors with a very difficult decision.