The Golden State Warriors are in the middle of a hard-fought NBA Finals series against the Boston Celtics. But by the time the Finals wrap up, which at the latest would be next Sunday, the Warriors will find themselves faced with a lot of questions in terms of their roster building, and those questions may have to be addressed this offseason.
The Warriors’ payroll is drawing the attention of the NBA
The Warriors have an outstanding roster, but they are spending a lot of money to keep that roster intact. Golden State is paying its players a combined $176 million right now, which happens to be over the NBA’s luxury tax threshold.
And since they are a longtime repeat tax offender, too, that means that they will also be paying over $170 million in taxes. That’s a total of $346 million, nearly $100 million more than the nearest team, the Los Angeles Clippers, at $250 million. That’s an unsustainable business model, which is important to remember because professional sports teams are businesses at the end of the day.
There have been rumblings around the NBA that people are beginning to get fed up with Golden State blatantly ignoring the luxury tax threshold. But Warriors general manager Bob Myers doesn’t believe his team is doing anything wrong, and it doesn’t sound like he is in a rush to get back under the threshold.
“I think on that point, you should be allowed to spend on your own players. I mean, we drafted a lot of these guys, we developed them. It’s not like we went out and signed all these guys as free agents and built some team that way. Larry Riley’s the guy that drafted [Steph] Curry, I was here when we drafted Klay [Thompson], we drafted Draymond [Green], we drafted [Jordan] Poole, we traded for [Andrew] Wiggins. Nobody wanted Wiggins, I mean nobody was saying anything then.” - Bob Myers, The Morning Roast
The Warriors are going to be forced to address their roster soon
Myers is correct that Golden State has successfully drafted and developed their core group of players, but they have also spent an excessive amount of money to keep them around. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green are all making upwards of $20 million per year on their current deals. They have filled out the backend of their roster with high-end contributors on cheaper deals, but there isn’t another team in the league that has four players with huge deals like Golden State.
Chances are that won’t last much longer, though. Wiggins is set for free agency after next season, and Thompson and Green’s deals expire after the 2023-24 season. Jordan Poole will be up for an extension this summer, and based on how good he was this season, that will cost a big chunk of change. Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II have both played so well in their respective roles that they may have priced themselves out of a return to the Warriors when they hit free agency this offseason.
The Warriors have spent big to put together this team, and while Myers is right that they do feature a lot of homegrown talent, there comes a point where you cannot afford to keep all these players on one team. That time is coming, whether it be this offseason or a year or two down the line. Golden State has managed to evade the luxury tax for the time being, but it is becoming clear that it will eventually catch up to them down the line.