The Golden State Warriors had a quiet opening to 2023 free agency through the first week, leading to much frustration among fans before the pivotal signing of Croatian power-forward/center Dario Saric on Saturday.
Armed with nothing more than minimum contracts, it’s no major surprise that the Warriors initially struggled in attracting free agent talent to the Bay. However, the front office have already made a move in ensuring that isn’t the case again next season.
The Golden State Warriors are preparing for a more flexible financial position that allows them to attack 2024 free agency and beyond.
The blockbuster trade centered around Jordan Poole and Chris Paul became official last week. As a result the Warriors got off over $120 million in guaranteed money, bringing in a backup point-guard with a $30.8 million deal for next season and a non-guaranteed $30 million contract the year after.
It’s almost impossible to envisage Golden State keeping Paul around on that number in 2024-25. Perhaps if he wins Sixth Man of the Year and helps the Warriors to another title — that’s a plausible but unlikely scenario.
Then there’s Klay Thompson, the Warrior franchise legend who’s extension eligible this offseason. It’s not a question of whether Thompson will get less than the $43.2 million he’ll receive next season, but how much of a discount that he’ll be willing to take in order to remain with the team. Draymond Green’s recent four-year, $100 million deal might be a good starting point for a new Thompson contract.
With Paul and Thompson on heavily reduced deals or off the team entirely, Golden State could well get under the new ‘super-tax apron’. That could prove vitally important in navigating the new penalties the league is introducing.
The Warriors could hold access to signing players in the buyout market, and bringing back more money in trades. Most importantly though, they could regain use of the taxpayer mid-level exception. That can get you a player like Donte DiVincenzo whom Golden State just lost in free agency to the New York Knicks.
While the franchise may rightfully argue that the Poole-for-Paul trade was made in the hopes of increasing their championship credentials for next season, there’s little doubt about the impact it makes from a financial perspective and the flexibility it may provide heading into next free agency and thereafter.