The Golden State Warriors’ season came to an end Thursday night, and though there is time to reflect on the season that was, the team’s main focus is on the future. Stephen Curry, a young star, and very good young players with star potential, inspire hope for the long-run, but the near future may be cloudy.
Jarrett Jack’s contract expires this offseason, and with a free-agent payday looming. Carl Landry will likely not pick up his $4 million player option for next season. Jack and Landry keyed the Warriors’ bench attack this year, and played important roles in the clutch. They were both members of the Warriors’ third most played lineup during the regular season.
Assuming that Richard Jefferson picks up his $11 million dollar player option, that Andris Biedrins does not invoke his early termination option and that the injured Brandon Rush picks up his $4 million dollar player option, the Warriors will have roughly $71 million on the books for next year, according to Basketball-Reference.
This season’s salary cap was about $58million and the luxury tax line was $70.03 million. The salary cap and luxury tax line change on a season to season basis, but the Warriors, as currently constructed, will be well over the salary cap in any situation. Trades, contract buy outs and other moves can be made to decrease team salary, but any major salary cutting trade would likely require surrendering a core player or future draft pick in compensation.
The Warriors reportedly attempted to negotiate an extension with Jack in January, but Jack declined, wanting to focus on the season. Despite this, he has made it clear that he would like to re-sign with the Warriors. When asked about a return to the Warriors, Jack said, “obviously there are other things that go into seeing if that works — we all know this is a business at the end of the day. If I could do it, if I could rearrange it, I would definitely be back at this same locker.”
Jack may hope to re-sign with the Warriors, but acknowledges that there are many factors that will influence his decision. After an impressive season in which he finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting, Jack likely expects to receive a significant salary increase, be it from the Warriors or another team.
As was addressed in greater detail here, there are several teams with the ability to offer Jack a multi-year, higher salary contract that would benefit from his services. The Warriors have Jack’s Bird-Rights, and thus will be able to re-sign him despite being over the salary cap, but will have to compete with teams able to offer Jack more lucrative contracts without suffering the luxury tax penalties.
Those not completely overwhelmed by the playoff run may remember the trade deadline, when the Warriors traded two seemingly inconsequential players, Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler, for “draft considerations.” Though the two players had no real impact on the Warriors’ season and the “draft considerations” will more than likely amount to top-55 protected second round picks, this trade still impacts the Warriors future.
By trading Jenkins and Tyler, the Warriors dipped just under the luxury tax for the season. Part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was an increased tax on teams whose salary exceeded the luxury tax line three years in a row. Most contending NBA teams have salaries above the luxury tax. In some cases, those teams are a significant amount over the luxury tax. By dropping under the tax line, the Warriors give themselves a prolonged buffer to avoid this “repeater tax,” allowing them to go over the tax this year without having to get back under immediately after.
The Warriors’ willingness to pay the luxury tax is not yet proven, but they do appear committed to success. Re-signing Jack would force the Warriors several millions of dollars over the luxury tax line, and incur financial penalties for the ownership group. However, forward thinking at the trade deadline puts the Warriors in position to pay the luxury tax without extreme consequences.
This same forward thinking, however, may be what keeps the Warriors from re-signing Jack.
Golden State is currently suffering the consequences of poor prior decision. Their plans for the future are being dictated by mistakes of the past; namely Jefferson, Biedrins and even David Lee and Andrew Bogut. These bloated contracts drastically limit the Warriors flexibility, limiting their options for next year.
Though keeping Jack may seem to be a priority now, the Warriors want to avoid limiting their future. If the Warriors ever become true contenders, it will likely not be for a couple years. If the marketplace dictates that Jack receives a contract more than his value, the Warriors may wish to avoid recreating a situation that has haunted them this year.
Jarrett Jack wants to re-sign with the Warriors, perhaps for less than he could receive elsewhere, and while this may be the case, Jack could follow the path of prior local hero Baron Davis, who left for the Los Angeles Clippers, or could be forced on the route of Paul Pierce, who the Celtics may be trying to trade despite emotional ties.