At the moment, no NBA team’s finances are as interesting as the Golden State Warriors’.
The reigning champions have long been facing a numbers crunch. While already owning the NBA’s highest payroll and tax hit, the Warriors were entering this season with four players eligible for contract extentions: Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole.
Over the weekend, the Warriors gave a hint at the direction they are heading: They gave Poole a four-year, $140 million extension and Wiggins a four-year, $109 million extension. Poole’s contract is worth $123 million, with the ability to earn more by hitting incentives.
Notably, Green and Thompson did not sign extensions.
Of course, Green and Thompson are both further away from free agency than Poole and Wiggins, who were both due to be free agents next summer. Green has a $27 million player option for the 2023-24 season that he can choose to exercise. Thompson still has two years and over $83 million remaining on his contract. Given that Thompson has played just 54 total games (regular season and playoffs) on this contract because of injuries, it wasn’t likely that the Warriors were going to rush to extend him.
That Green remains without a deal is more curious.
Green’s future with the team is on shaky ground after he punched Poole during an altercation at practice two weeks ago. Though the Warriors didn’t officially suspend Green, he was fined and spent time away from the team.
Kerr called Green’s punch the biggest crisis the team has faced under his tenure, and several members of the Warriors have said Green must make amends with the team to re-gain their trust.
When training camp opened — before he punched Poole — Green said he was motivated to play for a new deal. The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson and Anthony Slater had previously reported that Green wants a max contract extension. With Green now 32 years old, it would likely be the last big deal of his career, and he has always signed below-max deals with the Warriors.
The Warriors’ decision to extend the 27-year-old Wiggins and 23-year-old Poole — two young players who were key to their championship run last year — may have been a not-so-subtle move to push Green out the door.
According to ESPN’s Kendra Andrews, the Warriors are currently set to pay a record $483 million for their roster next year between pay roll and taxes.
The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami reported that Warriors officials say a $500 million roster would equate to a $100 million loss from a business standpoint — a number the franchise is unwilling to stomach.
„Every future raise means they have to find a way to cut the payroll by the same amount,” Kawakami wrote, noting that the Warriors would like to keep their payroll (with taxes) around $380 million.
Kawakami also reported that the Warriors would be unlikely to move Thompson, unless they are willing to part with draft picks or promising young players to entice teams to take on the mammoth contract.
„I know what the numbers are. … I cannot evaluate what we are going to do next season until we see what happens this season,” Warriors GM Bob Myers told reporters on Sunday.
Myers added: „We have to take it year to year. If you asked me a year ago if we were going to pay Poole and Wiggins this, I would not have believed you.”
The Warriors don’t need to make any decision on Green right now, of course. But the choices they have made seem telling: Two younger, drama-free players got paid. Green did not.
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