The Golden State Warriors just won a championship with the highest payroll in NBA history, and things are only going to get pricier from here. While their entire core is locked in for next season, four of the five best players are eligible for extensions this offseason that could launch the Warriors even further into uncharted luxury-tax territory for the next few years.
First on the docket? Draymond Green, who is eligible for an extension on Aug. 3, and according to Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson of The Athletic, wants every penny he can get.
Green is slated to make $25.8 million next season, and has a player option for $28.5 million after that. For Green to maximize his earnings on an extension, he would have to turn down that option and re-sign at 120 percent of his current salary. That path would allow the Warriors to pay him over $164 million for the next five seasons. This, according to Slater and Thompson, is what Green wants.
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Standard operating procedure in Golden State is to pay players with one year left on their deal. Even Stephen Curry waited until he was a year away from free agency before re-signing last offseason. Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are in that position now. Wiggins will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023 and Poole will be restricted. Klay Thompson is also eligible for an extension, but with two years left on his deal, the Warriors do not appear to be in a hurry to pay him.
But Curry himself would reportedly prefer the Warriors to pay their veterans. According to Thompson and Slater, he views himself, Thompson and Green as a package deal and wants the three of them to remain together as long as they are with the Warriors. A three-year extension for Green would align his contract with Curry’s.
If the Warriors are unwilling to extend Green, he is reportedly willing to pursue other options to get the contract he wants. What exactly that would entail is less certain. Green can become an unrestricted free agent as soon as next offseason. Would he play out this season expecting to possibly leave? Would he try to force a trade? There is no reason to believe he would at this stage, but if his priority is getting paid and the Warriors won’t meet his demands, almost anything could reasonably be on the table.
The Warriors have frequently vocalized their interest in extending their championship window beyond this current core’s prime. If that is indeed their goal, extending Wiggins (27 years old) and Poole (23) would seemingly be greater priorities than Green (32). With Green under contract for another year, Golden State could potentially keep him while developing Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman as front-court replacements should he decide to leave.
At this point, their options are either to do that or face historic salary and luxury-tax payments over the next several years. Had the Warriors retained Otto Porter and Gary Payton II this offseason, they could have wound up spending $500 million on their players in combined salary and taxes next season. Keeping Green, Wiggins and Poole would almost certainly vault them beyond that line and perhaps significantly further. Joe Lacob has shown a greater appetite for spending than any other NBA owner, but that would be a different level entirely.