Prior to this year’s NBA season, Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors seemed like something that would only happen if you let your franchise in NBA 2K simulate for too long. Yet the former MVP somehow found his way onto the best starting five in all of basketball and to the surprise of very few, claimed victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals. Of course, Durant’s services didn’t come cheap to the Warriors, having to dump off the salaries of both Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut. Heading into this offseason, the Warriors’ money problems look worse than they did last year, with not many options available for the team.
One thing that might be hard to comprehend is that the Warriors might have played too well during their 16-1 playoff run. Not only did all of their stars perform like we expected to, but guys like JaVale McGee and David West performed way better than the veterans minimum salaries they collected over the course of the season. While West is riding out the back end of his career, a guy like McGee might have played himself into a nice mid-level contract for a team looking for a big man off the bench. Unfortunately for the Warriors, this might not be something they can afford.
Last season, the Warriors had the seventh-highest payroll in the league, sitting at $107,526,542, which is right under the league’s luxury tax roof. With only five players on the books for next year, the Warriors have already used up more than $65 million of their 2017-2018 budget. This is all without signing the face of their current franchise Steph Curry, who is technically a free agent as of July 1. Thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement set in place, Curry is eligible for a five-year, $207 million max contract from the Warriors, which would be the largest in NBA history. With the salary cap for the 2017-2018 season estimated at $102 million and the luxury tax limit set at $124 million, the Warriors would take up most of that room with only six players, assuming Curry resigns with the team for a max deal.
All of this is calculated without taking former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala’s pay cheque. Making just over $11 million last season, Iguodala could potentially receive more money from a team looking for a defensive presence and a veteran leader. Dipping his toe into the free agency pool to test the waters would be the smart thing for Iguodala because there’s one team out there that’s bound to overpay him. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a guy like Iguodala fetch somewhere around $20 million annually, something the Warriors simply can’t afford without reaching into the luxury tax.
Other guys who might be looking to cash in on recent playoff success include young wing player Ian Clark and serviceable point guard Shawn Livingston. Both guys player played well over their pay grade during the NBA playoffs and could fetch anywhere between $5-7 million annually from a team looking to strengthen its bench. It’s a good problem to have during the regular season and the playoffs when everyone on the best team in the league plays higher than their pay grades, but now the Warriors quite frankly don’t have the resources needed to go around.