(It remains amazing to me that the only photo I can find of Joe Lacob, Bob Myers and Steve Kerr in any single frame together is this one I snapped off of the TV coverage of their Western Conference clinching celebration. And so I’ll post it again .)
-First, a quick run through some recent deals to put a few of the Warriors’ deals into perspective:
Detroit reportedly just gave guard Reggie Jackson, who is decidedly NOT one of the best players in the league and did not have other serious bidders, that I can decipher, $16M a year over five seasons.
So… are there still fans unhappy that Stephen Curry could start at $30M a year in 2017 (when the cap will explode because revenues FOR THE OWNERS are exploding)?
And doesn’t Draymond Green’s 5-year, $82M deal look better and better just four days after he agreed to it?
OK, now to the regular programming here…
* As the July movement period winds down (players can officially sign their deals on Thursday), let’s take a wide-angle view of the Warriors’ payroll commitments for this season and into the future, and where this might all be headed down the road….
Currently, if you add in Green’s $14.2M salary for 2015-2016, the Warriors basically are looking at $100M in commitments to 14 players this season.
That would be about $20M above the projected luxury-tax threshold. If a team ends the season $20M over the tax line (and hasn’t done it the previous season), it will incur $45M in tax payments alone.
(Most of the numbers are culled from Larry Coon’s invaluable NBA Salary Cap FAQ , by the way._
The tax index:
-First $4.99M over the tax line incurs a tax of 150% for every dollar. ($7.5M total.)
-Anything from $5M over the line to $9.99M over incurs a tax of 175% for every dollar. ($8.75M total.)
-Anything from $10M over the line to $14.99M over incurs a tax of 250% for every dollar. ($12.5M total.)
-Anything from $15M over the line to $19.99M over incurs a tax of 325% for every dollar. ($16.25M total.)
-Over $20M is a 375% tax and it increases 50% for each $5M interval above that.
Officially, the Warriors have 12 players with contracts for the 2015-2016 season, at a total commitment of $97.7M.
They also will add about $950K to that when they sign first-round pick Kevon Looney at the rookie scale (depending on the negotiations, this salary can go up by as much as 20%, as MT-2 reminds me, but I’ll lean to the conservative side on this one), and they’ve made a $1.1M qualifying offer to Ongen Kuzmic.
So, if you count Looney and Kuzmic, that makes it 14 players at $99.8M or more and I’ll round up to $100M.
That’s a conservative accounting.
The Warriors also probably will add one more player, to get to the max regular-season roster of 15, who will count on the books next April (beyond summer league/training-camp players).
* Variables /
They could re-sign Leandro Barbosa at the veterans’ minimum or add a player with the tax-payer mid-level, starting at $3.4M.
They could trade David Lee or others to reduce the payroll and tax bill.
* The large money /
Yeah, $100M is a hefty number, easily the largest in Warriors history. The largest previous was last season, when they were around $74M (under the $76.8M lux-tax line).
No other team has currently committed more salary for this coming season…
But that’s only temporary, because Cleveland will go way over the $100M mark in the coming days when it finishes signing its own free agents, including Kevin Love (agreed to a 5-year, $125M deal), Tristan Thompson (not yet agreed, but looking at a Draymond-level deal) and some guy named LeBron James (large).
And the Cavaliers could be adding more if they completes a rumored deal for Joe Johnson’s one-year, $25M salary.
Nevertheless, the Warriors’ $100M is large.
* The full list of Warriors’ commitments …
–Klay Thompson $15.5M this season…… $16.7M in 2016-17…. $17.8M in 2017-18…. $19M in 2018-19. Total: $69M.
–David Lee $15.5M this season.
–Draymond Green $14.3M this season……. $15.3M in 2016-17…. $16.4M in 2017-18…. $17.5M in 2018-19… $18.5M in 2019-20. Total: $82M.
–Andrew Bogut $12M this season………. $11M in 2016-17. Total remaining: $23M.
(The Warriors also must account for a likely-to-be made bonus of $1.8M in 2015-16–bringing his estimated cap figure this season to $13.8M, because Bogut hit the 15% last season by playing in more than 64 games and making 2nd team All-Defense. If he doesn’t make the bonus next season, it does
not count towards cap calculations at that point. I’ll count it without the bonus.)
–Andre Iguodala $11.7M this season……… $11.1M in 2016-17. Total remaining: $22.8M.
–Stephen Curry $11.4M this season………… $12.1 in 2016-17. Total remaining: $23.5M.
–Shaun Livingston $5.5M this season………. team option for $5.8M in 2016-17.
–Harrison Barnes $3.9M this season…………. qualifying offer of $5.2M in 2016-17.
(Barnes is eligible for his rookie-deal extension this off-season. If signed, the first year of the new deal would be 2016-17.)
–Marreese Speights $3.8M this season. (Team option was exercised.)
–Festus Ezeli $2M this season……………. qualifying offer of $3M in 2016-17.
(Like Barnes, Ezeli is eligible for his rookie-deal extension this off-season. If signed, the first year of the new deal would be 2016-17.)
–Brandon Rush $1.3M.
–James Michael McAdoo $845K (not all of it is guaranteed, but I’m counting all of it because McAdoo, at this low salary, is very likely to take one of the roster spots).
—That’s $97.7M for 12 players.
* The near-commitment s/
–Ongen Kuzmic $1.1M qualifying offer.
–Kevon Looney $950k rookie scale salary (estimated). Salary would be in the same neighborhood (with raises) for each of the next two seasons.
I’ll count these two as part of the overall commitment, which brings it to $99.8M for 14 players.
* Possible additions /
–Leandro Barbosa. had a $1.2M veterans’ minimum salary last season. Teams can always bring back their own players above the cap-line and also can always sign anybody to a vet minimum salary.
-The Warriors could sign somebody with the tax-payer mid-level, starting at a max of $3.4M.
Again, if the Warriors simply brought those 14 players to the regular-season opener, and kept them through the season, just as is, they would be about $20M over the projected luxury-tax threshold of $81.6M.
(ALL of these projections reportedly could bump a little higher. The official cap and lux-tax numbers will be announced on July 9, but it does sound like the cap number will move up from $67.1M closer to $69.1M, which should bump up the tax line higher than $81.6M.
(But for the purposes of this exercise, I’ll work with the $81.6M tax number and we can all make our adjustments when the official number comes out.)
The Warriors will pay the tax this season. There is almost no way out of that–even if they subtract Lee’s $15.5M salary and get no money back in return, they’ll be at least $4.5M over the line.
Once they’ve made the decision to go over, you might as well stay over; winnow the number down if possible, but if you’re gunning for a repeat championship and you’ve decided it’s worth paying the tax, you don’t start sacrificing talent now to get under the tax line.
And THEN all payroll thinking has to turn to next season… when the cap number is projected to be $89M and the luxury tax is projected to start at $108M.
* Here’s what the Warriors have already committed for 2016-2017:
Thompson $16.7M, Green $16.4M, Bogut $11M, Iguodala $11.1M, Curry $12.1M and the potential Barnes and Ezeli extensions, due
Officially, that’s $67.3M just for the first five players… and Barnes and Ezeli combined could bump that up at least another $18-22M just in 2016-17 payroll.
That would unofficially put the Warriors at about $89M in payroll two seasons from now. Right at the cap-line.
So how would they go after a monster free agent like Kevin Durant next July, after several of us have already teased that attempt?
It wouldn’t be with cap space–the Warriors are going to be over or at the cap-line a year from now, almost no matter what, unless they can trade away players for nothing (always a future possibility).
If they go after a huge FA, it’d almost certainly be via sign-and-trade (which is how they got Iguodala two summers ago and how they tried to get Dwight Howard).
Also, the big, big issue two summers from now, as I believe I have written: Curry can become an unrestricted free agent in July 2017 and by that point his max salary is projected to be $30M.
But the cap-line is projected to be $108M in July 2017, and the tax will start at $127M.
The Warriors do need to plan for all of that and I believe they’re planning now. They’ve been planning for years, actually–right when Curry is due to make $30M… Bogut and Iguodala’s deals come off the cap.
OK, that’s the list. Just thought I’d put it all down here, for the record. If I got anything wrong, I’ll go back and correct it.