The Golden State Warriors have a lot of offseason questions to answer. Not counting Kevin Durant, who will surely re-sign, the team has five free agent spots to fill. They have their own free agents to consider re-signing, and outside free agents who they may welcome into the fold.
And they are, of course, limited in the amount of money they can spend. That’s simply the price you pay for employing four All-Stars who are all in their primes.
The biggest weapon the Warriors have in their arsenal is the mid-level exception. The mid-level exception allows the team to spend $5.3 million on a free agent, which is a bit more than the minimum that they can otherwise offer.
But while the exception may seem like a no-brainer for the team to use, it really isn’t. It turns out that they may not use it at all. As reported by Anthony Slater of The Athletic, the team is seriously considering filling out their roster with minimum contracts, as well as whatever price Patrick McCaw earns.
Slater quotes Warriors general manager Bob Myers as saying, “It depends. [Joe Lacob’s] always shown a high level of aggressiveness. So if it makes sense for us and helps us win, he’s always said yes. But that’ll be the markers that have to be met.”
$5.3 million may not sound like a financial deal breaker, but for the Warriors it can be. Because the team’s salary cap is so high, they’re deep into the luxury tax, and their free agent dollars are taxed at a high level. Assuming a modest McCaw contract, the $5.3 million mid-level exception will actually cost the team in excess of $20 million.
Of course, Lacob can afford to spend that kind of money, but it’s understandable that he won’t throw it at any old player. Last year, the team used the mid-level exception on Nick Young, and it’s safe to say that experiment is not one the team would like to spend $20 million repeating. The previous two years, they used it on Shaun Livingston, and that proved to be well worth the cost.
In other words, if the Warriors can get a key contributor - someone worth more than $5.3 million - to take a discount to join the Warriors, they’ll open up the checkbooks. But if not, they’ll fill in the roster in other ways.