Warriors may once again need to choose between franchise legend and rising star

Golden State Warriors v Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Rewind 12 months and the Golden State Warriors were preparing to choose between a franchise legend and impending free agent in Draymond Green, and a rising star and potential Stephen Curry heir in Jordan Poole.

Make no mistake, many still viewed Poole as a future All-Star, signified by the fact the Warriors had signed him to a four-year, $128 million contract the previous offseason. But it became increasingly apparent that Golden State couldn't have both Poole and Green on the roster going forward, both because of the pair's deteriorating relationship characterized by the ugly punch in training camp, and the long-term payroll issues that would have stemmed from retaining both.

The Warriors made their decision by trading Poole for Chris Paul on draft day, before promptly re-signing Green to a four-year, $100 million contract as soon as free agency opened a week later. Golden State prioritized their franchise legend on that occasion, so what may they do in a similar predicament this offseason?

The futures of Klay Thompson and Jonathan Kuminga could be set by who the Golden State Warriors prioritize in the coming weeks

Like Green last year, the Warriors again face the challenge of re-signing one of their all-time great players in free agency. Klay Thompson's future with the franchise appears far more precarious than Green's did last season, with the extension eligibility of Jonathan Kuminga sure to play a role in the outcome of the veteran sharpshooter.

The Thompson-Kuminga connection isn't as blatantly obvious as the Green-Poole one was, largely because their isn't the same personal relationship problem. While the Warriors don't specifically need to choose one or the other, the same payroll issues exist that may force the franchise into prioritizing one over the other.

Kuminga could command close to $30 million per season, with ESPN's Bobby Marks comparing the 21-year-old's potential contract extension to Jaden McDaniels who got a five-year, $131 million deal from the Minnesota Timberwolves last offseason.

Golden State will certainly have a number in mind on what they'll be willing to offer the young forward, with that number sure to impact how far they're willing to go to retain Thompson. Conversely, if they wish to re-sign the five-time All-Star by any measure, that could significantly reduce their offer to Kuminga later in the offseason.

Given Kuminga's extension wouldn't kick in till the following season, the Warriors could sign both to hefty deals and push the can down the road another 12 months. But with Stephen Curry ($59.6 million), Andrew Wiggins ($28.2 million) and Green ($25.9 million) already with big deals for 2025-26, it's unlikely that the franchise will want to add two more $25+ million salaries for that year and beyond.