Warriors financial aims could be blown out of the water by blockbuster trade

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

In an interview with The Athletic's Tim Kawakami in February, Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob outlined his ambition to not only get the franchise under the NBA's new second-tax apron, but out of the luxury tax entirely.

However, General Manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. confirmed earlier in the week that, despite missing the playoffs with the league's highest payroll, Lacob is open to going over the tax line once again. It provides an extra element to this offseason -- will Lacob actually fulfil the ambitions he set out in February, or will his drive to remain competitive ultimately take precedence?

The financial aims of the Golden State Warriors could be blown out of the water if they trade for Paul George this offseason

The Warriors have a path to play it safe and reduce much of their financial burden. They could waive Chris Paul's $30 million non-guaranteed contract, then try to bring Klay Thompson back at a discounted rate they're comfortable with.

But playing it safe isn't necessarily in Lacob's DNA when it comes to the Warriors. Right now they're instead taking the route of trying to add a star, currently headlined by LA Clippers' forward Paul George.

The situation with George is almost purely financial. The whole reason he may try and wrestle his way out of LA is because the franchise is unwilling to offer him a max extension. If the 9x All-Star opts in to his $48.8 million player option and requests a trade, any new destination understands the financial security he's after. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst on Get Up on Wednesday, the Warriors are prepared to provide the extension George is after.

"He wants a full out max and there are a number of teams out there, I am told, that are prepared to give it to him, who are prepared to trade for him. One of those teams, potentially, is up the coast in Golden State."

Brian Windhorst

A max extension for George would look like four years and $221 million -- a massive contract for someone who will be 35 when the deal actually begins. That would completely blow up Golden State's hopes of getting under the tax -- they'd have George and Stephen Curry making over $50 million annually, along with Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green who each have three years left on $100+ million contracts.

Then you get to Jonathan Kuminga who is extension eligible this offseason and could be in line for a $120+ million contract. Perhaps the 21-year-old is part of the George trade, but most fans will be hoping that isn't the case.

What would Klay Thompson be thinking if Windhorst's report is correct? What does it say if they'd be willing to offer George a max extension, but not be willing to add a third year to retain a franchise legend?

95.7 The Game's Matt Steinmetz suggested on Wednesday that trading for George and giving him a max would be a sign of desperation from the Warriors. Perhaps that's exactly what they need to be though after a season which yielded just 10th in the Western Conference, and with Curry still widely regarded as a top 10 player in the league.