After bowing out in the second round, the Golden State Warriors look like they have a bright future ahead of them.
With all five starters still under contract for next year, the Warriors only problem may be depth. Both Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack have player options for $4 million next year, and Jack is expected to opt out and seek a larger, multi-year deal, one which the Warriors cannot offer because of their heavy commitment to Andrew Bogut and David Lee (not to mention the $20 million combined owed to Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins).
This Warriors team was built to be together through 2014, and they will have essentially the same roster as the one that played the Spurs to a near standstill in 6 tough games.
The Warriors will have two very valuable (i.e. tradable) pieces in Jefferson and Biedrins’ large expiring contracts. These are valuable for two reasons. One, the Warriors can either hold on to both these players and have a massive amount of cap space in the summer of 2015, or trade them at the deadline to another team looking to make a splash in the free agency market. If the Warriors really wanted to change the dynamic of their team, the could package Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes with those expiring contracts to potentially get a great interior player and shift the way the Warriors play away from a perimeter, jump-shooting team.
The Warriors future ultimately hinges on Stephen Curry. Although Bogut and Lee are both valuable and competent players, Curry is the franchise player the Warriors’ front office has been starving for. After having arguably the greatest shooting season in the history of the NBA, Curry has stepped into the national spotlight and is gaining respect league wide. His extension kicks in next season and he will be making $9.8 million next year, with about an $800,000 increase every subsequent year–a very managable contract for how excellent a player he is.
The other big thing the Warriors have going for them is their incredible 2012 draft class. The Warriors have Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore under team control for the next four years, meaning those players all make a team-friendly salary and have team options through 2017. Thompson is under team control through 2016, as well. This all bodes well, but ultimately losing a key player like Jarrett Jack may greatly harm the Warriors chances. Until a player like Green or Bazemore steps up into a sixth man role, the Warriors may have to take a step back before being able to make it farther in the playoffs than they did this past season.
While the Warriors have one of the brightest futures in the NBA, there are a few other teams that have amassed a bundle of young, talented players on reasonable contracts. Let’s take a look at some of the other ‘great futures’ around the league: