The Golden State Warriors suffered an embarrassing 122-101 defeat in Game 6 of their second-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, sending the purple and gold through to the Western Conference Finals and ending the defending champions’ season.
History suggested that once they fell down 3-1, the series was all but over. Yet Warrior fans remained optimistic, hoping that their squad could lean on their championship pedigree to extend the series to a Game 7. In the end, a disconcerted effort on the road saw the Dubs fall short, continuing a trend of underwhelming road losses that encumbered Golden State throughout the regular season.
Now, all eyes shift to the off-season, which promises to be a busy one for a Golden State Warriors team with multiple players eligible for an extension.
At the top of the list, is Draymond Green, whose current contract includes a player option for next season. If Green opts out, he will become an unrestricted free agent. Golden State would love to retain the future hall-of-famer, and Green has recently indicated that he would like to return. However, the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is sure to make things challenging.
The NBA’s old CBA featured only one salary-cap apron at $7 million above the luxury tax. Teams that exceeded that threshold were denied access to their non-taxpayer mid-level exception and bi-annual exception, and could not sign and trade players during free agency.
The new CBA, which kicks in on July 1st, includes an additional salary-cap apron set at $17.5 million. Teams above the second apron will lose access to the taxpayer mid-level exception and face further penalties in the 2024-25 off-season.
Last season, the Warriors collective payroll exceeded $342 million — the most in NBA history. This year, they’ve surpassed $360 million. The Warriors have 12 players under contract for next season, assuming Draymond Green and Donte DiVincenzo pick up their player options. Once Jordan Poole’s $140 extension kicks in, the Warriors are staring at a projected team salary of about $215 million, which is $50 million over the NBA’s projected $162 million tax line for the 2023-24 season. Under the new tax structure, Golden State would pay roughly $300 in luxury taxes, equaling nearly a half billion dollars in total salary for next year.
Joe Lacob, Peter Guber, and the rest of the Warriors ownership group have been willing to spend deep into the luxury tax in the past, but that figure is borderline unfeasible. If Golden State is hell-bent on retaining Green and Klay Thompson, who is extension-eligible with one year left on his deal, it will require some sacrifice.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Golden State has already informed Klay Thompson that if he wants to remain a Warrior, he will likely have to accept a pay cut, with Golden State prioritizing the retention of its nucleus. Andrew Wiggins took a pay cut to stay with the Dubs last offseason, and Thompson doing the same could go a long way towards Golden State bringing back Green as well.
Behind the scenes, Golden State’s general manager and president of basketball operations, Bob Myers, is also up for an extension. Myers has been with the Warriors since 2011, and Joe Lacob did offer him a lucrative deal earlier in the season, but the 48-year-old Myers is taking time to assess his future in basketball.
Per Charania and Anthony Slater, a request for Klay Thompson to take a pay cut would “land softer from Myers rather than a Joe Lacob-led front office.” This is simply speculation, but if that truly were the case, keeping Myers should be right at the top of the Warriors’ to-do list.
From top to bottom, the Golden State Warriors will have some important organizational decisions to make. Stephen Curry, at age 35, has miraculously extended both his basketball prime and the Warriors’ window for another championship. He has given the Warriors organization his all, and the front office owes it to their franchise player to return the favor.