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Mailbag: roster spots, Steph’s legacy, and more

Answering all your Warriors questions.

Steph Curry and James Wiseman on the court Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re still seven weeks away from the Golden State Warriors playing their first preseason game. But there’s a lot surrounding the team to talk about.

So I put the call out for questions, and you great people sent some fine ones.

There’s always a possibility but it’s really hard to see how it will work out. Basically one of three things needs to happen.

The first option is Joe Lacob changing his mind on on being unwilling to pay half a billy in salary and tax payments. Seems highly unlikely.

The second is some combination of those three taking massive discounts. Seems highly unlikely.

And the third is shedding James Wiseman’s contract, without taking salary back, and having some combination of those three take moderate discounts. Much more likely than the other two. Still quite unlikely.

Discounts are easier to find in theory than in actuality. Even though they’re talked about a lot, players rarely take them. When they do, it’s usually a David West or Otto Porter Jr. taking a discount to chase a ring. There’s always the occasional move that James Harden did this offseason, but that’s rare, especially when players have already won a title and can shift their focus to capitalizing on their value.

Even when Kevin Durant took discounts to help the Warriors, it was for something in the range of two or three million a year ... about 10 days’ worth of his earnings when endorsements are accounted for.

Jordan Poole will not take a discount. His career earnings when he reaches free agency will be $10 million over four years of grinding in the NBA and G League. This is his first big (by NBA standards) paycheck, and you never know when it’s your last.

Draymond Green seems unlikely to take a discount. It’s already been reported that he’ll leave if not paid what he’s worth. The only hope for suppressing his salary is to have him enter free agency and hope that no one else offers him the bag. A dangerous game to play.

The hope rests with Andrew Wiggins, and this is his chance to cash in on a career year. I could see him taking a small discount. A big one though? Especially when the team didn’t offer him any public support or sympathy during vaccinegate? Doesn’t seem likely.

No clue, to be honest. Team has kept things close to their chest. Probably won’t know much until training camp.

Well ... I wouldn’t blame Wiseman specifically, but yeah, the point is accurate. Porter and Gary Payton II will make a combined $14.3 million this year, while their replacements, JaMychal Green and Donte DiVincenzo, will make just over $7 million. Wiseman will make $9.6 million, which is enough to cover that difference and add a veteran’s minimum.

For 2023-24, Wiseman’s contract goes up to $12.1 million, so the Warriors could actually have saved a significant chunk of money by going the route you proposed.

But doing so would require them to give up on their 21-year old lottery pick who they already have proclaimed a future cornerstone, before he’s even played his 40th game. And whether or not you agree with it, they were never, ever, ever going to do that.

Honestly, no. The Warriors have two open roster spots. I don’t think they have any intention of filling them until training camp is well underway. So as long as Andre Iguodala makes his decision by early October, I don’t think it really has any impact on the team’s roster building.

Honestly, if the Warriors are healthy (and Iguodala retires) in camp, I wouldn’t be surprised if the enter the season with just 13 players on the roster, which is the minimum allowed. If they do want to fill the 14th spot, I would assume that Quinndary Weatherspoon is in the driver’s seat, since the organization seems high on him.

Two-way slots are never safe, so Lester Quiñones certainly could lose his spot to someone who impresses. But I think it’s more likely than Weatherspoon gets converted to a roster spot so someone such as Mac McClung can take his two-way.

I’m not sure if the specifics were ever verified, but Jerry West did say he left because he wanted to feel wanted. Which, in sports terms, almost always means not getting paid what you believe is your worth.

As for a similar chunk of dough going to Nick Young? ‘Tis the Joe Lacob way. He has startup CEO mentality. He’ll pay the market rate for the front-facing employees who are in the public eye. With rosters, what other choice do you have? Replacing talent for cheaper isn’t a very realistic option with players. But he’s always been willing to let people behind the scenes go — with the Warriors or his other business ventures — if he feels he can fill their role for a smaller price.

Remember when Chelsea Lane left the Warriors because the Atlanta Hawks offered her more money and the Warriors didn’t match it? She wasn’t the first valued member of the organization that happened to, nor was she the last.

Other than players, Lacob will pay employees what he thinks they’re worth. Less if he can. But never more.

Note: this is an explanation, not a justification. I think the Warriors should have paid Lane and West whatever the hell they wanted.

What an interesting question to end on. Personally, I don’t think the Durant situation will help Steph Curry’s legacy, vis a vis Curry’s leadership when KD played in the Bay. It’s too easy to chalk up the (relative) smoothness of that to the fact that the Warriors were dominating, even if we know it’s not at all that simple.

But Durant’s actions do still help Curry’s legacy, I think. Because for all of the negative things people said about Durant being insensitive, too online, or a ring chaser, he wasn’t thought of as being a troublemaker who hurt franchises. Until now.

So now we look at the four marquee players of Curry’s era: Curry, Durant, LeBron James, and James Harden (add Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook if you want). One of those things is not like the others.

Now, the next era of superduperstars — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokić, Joel Embiid, and Luka Dončić — are currently more like Curry and less like Durant/Harden/James, in terms of organizational smoothness and what have you. If they stay that route, then maybe Curry doesn’t stand out much.

But for now, one of the things near the top of Curry’s resume is that he’s the only superstar of his era to not burn bridges, hurt teams, and make some enemies around the league. And I do think that adds to his legacy.

Bob Myers, Steve Kerry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green would trip over themselves for the chance to introduce Curry at his Hall of Fame induction. How many all-time greats, especially from this era, is that true of?