Keeping a super-team together for a stretch of time is becoming increasingly impossible in sports. But the Golden State Warriors appear poised to be the closest thing to a dynasty this generation might ever see. We break down their upcoming financial scenarios.
Kevin Durant’s Next Contract
Kevin Durant’s made it publicly clear that he intends to re-sign with the Warriors, despite an early opt-out of his $26.25M player option for next season. He’ll have plenty of choices this spring:
Another 1+1 Contract
Because of his self-inflicted lower salary in 2017-18, Durant’s max salary for 2018-19 will be $30M (120% of his previous salary). This represents about $5M less than he could make were he to sign a long-term deal, see below. However in signing the 1 year deal, Durant would be setting himself up for a historic payday in 2019. With the NBA salary cap expected to jump about $7M over the next 12 months, Durant will have the chance to cash in on a projected 5 year $220M max contract after the upcoming season.
A Shorter, Long-Term Contract
Possible, but likely not until 2019
There’s no sign that the NBA league cap is going south anytime soon (though some of us have our doubts just how long this spike in money can truly last before breaking). With that said, it’s possible Durant opts for a 2+1 deal (2 guaranteed years plus a player option in year 3). This would guarantee KD $73.5M over the next two seasons, plus a $41M player option, and would set him up to re-sign in 2020-2021, when the league cap could be near $115M. His 5 year max contract at that point would ring in around $230M.
A Longer, Long-Term Contract
Not likely based on rights, & logic
Durant’s current rights with the Warriors (Early Bird) restrict him to a maximum of a 4 year, $158M contract this summer. Were he to wait a year or two before cashing in big (likely), he’ll be eligible for the full 5 year contract, as noted above.
Klay Thompson’s Options
Klay Thompson will be entering a contract-year in 2018-19, and has all but made it clear that he won’t be signing an extension right now. The main reasoning? Doing so would be a major loss in money.
Were he to extend now, he’d be tacking on 4 new years to his contract, for a total of $102M. By waiting for his current contract to expire in the Summer of 2019, he’ll be eligible for a projected 5 year, $188M contract in Golden State or a 4 year, $140M deal with a new team. Control + More Money = Thompson waits.
The Trade Block
It’s not without reason to think that Thompson’s reluctance to extend this season could put him on the trade block. The Warriors are facing an insurmountable luxury tax bill, especially as they’ll become repeat offenders after the 2018-19 season, putting them in financial peril through 2021. Trading Klay and his $19M salary this offseason makes their short-term plans a little easier to swallow.
There’s no question Golden State will have to let many of their bench/depth players walk this summer, but they’ll have a chance to add a solid piece using their Mid-Level Exception ($5.3M). This would be the tool to “try” to fill the void that Klay Thompson’s trade would create, and could be used to target J.J. Redick, Trevor Ariza, or Wayne Ellington.
Draymond Green’s Future
Draymond Green’s current contract runs through the 2019-20 season, so there’s not a contingent urgency to address him right now. However, the Warriors have a puzzle to put together over the next 36 months in order to keep this dynasty train on the track. Were the Warriors to extend Green this summer, he'd be inline for a 3 year, $72M extension - a move he's not likely to agree to.
To say that keeping Curry, Durant, Thompson, & Green together for the next 3-4 seasons would be hard is an immense understatement. Not only is it not likely, it’s really just not good business either. The luxury tax fines are going to start exceeding $100M per year after the upcoming season, and no business/owner should be accepting of that for a period of time.
So assuming Thompson is the player who’s left out of the equation, it will be important to “stagger” the signings of the rest of the crew in order to keep the salary cap/roster as fluid as possible for matters of depth, draft picks, etc.
Much - if not all - of this relies on how Durant’s contract is handled this summer. Should he sign another 1+1 contract, it likely means Draymond’s contract won’t be addressed until the 2020 season. But if Durant opts for a 2+1 contract this July, look for Green’s extension to be a topic of discussion next summer. Especially if Klay is a pending free agent.