The NBA has a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place (in principle) and everyone's in the business of trying to figure out what this means for the league going forward. There are a number of impacts this new deal will have, from D-League contracts to minimum players getting more to how teams are going to keep big-name players.
And if we're looking at specific, tangible impacts, it makes sense to start with the Warriors.
This is CBA stuff, so it's all super-dense, and quite honestly, boring to about 80 percent of the population. If you work in finance, this stuff is a barn-burner, and if you're an NBA business wonk, you think it's fascinating. But overall, it's tough to find what matters and how it actually impacts the basketball side of the Bay Area's super-team.
Here are the basics on what you should know.
1. Steph Curry will be back
Not only will he be back, but his payday will erase all conversation from the past three years about him being underpaid. As we noted Friday, Curry is in line for a $207 million payday under the new deal. That's $80 million more than any other team can offer him. Hmm, does Steph Curry want to re-sign with the big-market super-team that has helped make him a two-time MVP and one of the biggest stars on the planet with a chance at a championship every year? Or does he want to take a massive paycut to go elsewhere?
Yeah, poor Steph. Tough decision.
2. Durant isn't so certain
Here's where things get tricky.
Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post did a great job breaking down the choices that Durant faces under the new CBA. There are some complicated mechanics, but here's the simple list.
A. He re-signs with the Warriors and takes a paycut. He can do this using what are called non-Bird rights on a one-year deal, and still wind up making $31 million in the first year of his deal, then make the full super-max amount the year after. Not exactly a crushing blow to his standard of living. But it is a full $5 million less than what he can make as a superstar player. In doing so, he enables the Warriors to keep the rights to Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, who could then re-sign using their Bird Rights. Love and loyalty keeps the Warriors together, and the Super-Team rolls on.
It should be noted that the Warriors are not improved by Curry taking a paycut instead of Durant, because the Warriors are only going to be able to afford both of them by using Curry's Bird Rights to go over the cap to re-sign him. So Curry's under no obligation to take a paycut. The only Curry number that matters is his $18 million cap hold, which ties up space they need.
Durant taking the paycut seems like the most likely scenario, given that he didn't leave Oklahoma City to keep the Warriors from making a super-team. The Warriors still won't have much room to add upgrades, but we'll get to that in a minute.
B. Durant signs with the Warriors for the max. This is a massive opportunity for Durant, and he can sign a deal that will pay him $200 million. For a guy who had a broken foot two years ago as a seven-footer, that's a big deal. He has every right to demand that max.
To make that happen, the Warriors have to renounce their rights to Iguodala and Livingston, then they have to pay Ian Clark even more, and fill out the rest of the roster with minimum guys. The Warriors would also be looking at an astronomical luxury tax, but that's going to be the case no matter what, and the Warriors are a gigantic money press, so it's not a concern.
C. Durant opts in. Durant can forgo free agency this summer, opt into the deal, and then take a five-year extension next year at the max under the new CBA. He winds up making about $9 million less in that scenario, but he makes it up on the back end and the Warriors are able to make a few more moves this summer.
D. Durant leaves in free agency. This is highly unlikely. No matter how tight the financial squeeze is, all parties are committed to making this work, and Durant can still sign with the Warriors for the most money. If push came to shove they would just go with option E...
E. The Warriors trade one of Klay Thompson or Draymond Green. Again, this is super unlikely and would necessitate the Warriors deciding they need depth over four All-NBA players and Durant to be unwilling to help them make room to build a better team around him by taking less than the max. It's just not something that seems like a realistic possibility, but it is a possibility.
3. No matter what, the bench gets worse
Golden State will always be able to find guys like JaVale McGee, David West and Anderson Varejao to fill out the roster, and they'll have exceptions provided when over the cap to add a guy here and there. But they lost most of their depth from last year's team this summer when Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights left, and the Warriors are going to face tough challenges when it comes to Andre Iguodala, who will be 32 as a free agent looking for one more big payday, and Shaun Livingston.
Their flexibility is only going to go down as the players' contracts increase with standardized raises, unless both Curry and Durant take massive paycuts. That's possible, but unlikely. It's not just the first year of these deals that's the problem, either. For example, if the Warriors keep Green and Thompson, Curry takes the new designated player extension at 35 percent of the cap plus raises, and Durant takes the max, they're going to be at $116 million in 2018-19.
That's a $116 million payroll for four players against a salary cap of $108M.
This seems like a problem.
Again, the Warriors and other super-teams have always found solutions to figure a way around these things, but it's a problem.
Everyone's getting paid, but while the new CBA improves the situation for Golden State's superstars, it could make things difficult on the Warriors to field a good enough supporting roster for the rest of their non-superstar players.