Golden State Warriors Offseason Mailbag

Tony Nguyen | Golden State Warriors
May 25, 2024

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and it seemed like a good time for the next offseason installment in the Golden State Warriors mailbag series. Thanks to everyone for the great questions!

What a great question to kick off the mailbag. The competitiveness of the league sure is fun, isn’t it? I’m already looking ahead to previewing the 2024-25 NBA season and it’s a little shocking how many teams have to be considered as championship contenders. And the trickle down effect is great, because the NBA regular season is more meaningful than at any time in recent memory.

All that said, I chalk that up more to happenstance — and an abundance of young talent — more than anything CBA related. I am not a fan of spending caps, and I’m not a believer that they actually add to competitive balance much. In my opinion, you should reward the owners who want to spend, instead of punish them. And I promise I felt that even before free-wheelin’ Joe Lacob took over!

Ultimately, the second apron is something created by the owners not because they desire competitive balance, but because they want a league-mandated rule that prohibits spending, so they can blame someone else for their cheap decisions. Every CBA move that is driven by the owners rather than the players is done for one reason and one reason only: to maximize profit. They can PR spin it all they want, but it’s never about competitive balance as much as about profit.

So yes, I do think the second apron lasts. It makes it easier for teams to justify not spending money, and that will always play, unfortunately.

It really depends on what team the Warriors are dealing with. Ultimately, they have three valuable assets.

The first is Chris Paul’s expiring contract. The second is multiple future first-round draft picks. The third is Jonathan Kuminga.

I doubt CP3 is enough to bring the Warriors a second star, unless you’re interested in a flawed star. Ultimately, an expiring is only bringing you a star that a team actively wants to get rid of, and those players are never that good. For instance, the Portland Trail Blazers would probably be stoked to trade Jerami Grant for Paul’s expiring contract but … well … I’d rather keep Paul. Or get rid of Paul. Or really anything other than that.

The team’s future first-round picks are intriguing, especially since the Warriors don’t really look like a team that will be good in three-to-five years. But that requires a team that doesn’t think they’re ready to contend for a few years. And there aren’t very many teams that have a star they want to trade, while being in that situation. Zach LaVine might be the only player that fits that bill, and I’m not sure either team would be all that interested.

Kuminga certainly has a lot of value, though it’s unclear if he has star-return value. While I’m incredibly high on him, I lean towards no. I think that ultimately, the only way to even think about bringing in a star player, is by pairing Kuminga with a pair of future first-round picks (or a pick and Brandin Podziemski). That would then need to be paired with Paul or Andrew Wiggins, just to make salaries work.

But then again, if you have a more liberal view of what a No. 2 option is, then things get easier.

So, two different things here, because the two questions you’re asking aren’t actually related. You don’t need any exceptions or cap shenanigans to move up in the draft. Because drafted slots aren’t yet signed players, they don’t have salary attached to them, so you don’t need to match salary. Subsequently, money spent to acquire draft picks doesn’t count towards the salary cap. In other words, the Warriors can buy a draft pick (or buy a better draft pick), and the only thing it hurts is Joe Lacob’s wallet. This is why you often see the Warriors buy draft picks: it’s an opportunity to acquire the lowest salary in the NBA, while having the bulk of the cost be non-taxable. Paying $500,000 to buy a draft slot that results in an $800,000 player is substantially cheaper than signing a $1,300,000 player in free agency, at least for a team with the dire tax penalties that the Dubs have had.

That said, teams that are over the second tax apron are no longer allowed to buy draft picks. So that’s a further silly penalty.

As for Joseph, the Warriors do have a trade exception for him, valued at just over $2 million. It doesn’t expire until February 8, so they have lots of time to use it. They also have a trade exception for Patrick Baldwin Jr., which clocks in at just over $2.3 million. That one, however, needs to be used by July 8.

On a related note, you can find out all about the various salary cap situations with the Warriors here.

No, I don’t think so. I think it’s a virtual lock that at least two of those players are gone, and I think the most likely situation is that three are gone. I still think Klay Thompson is very likely to return. I think Andrew Wiggins is probably slightly better than 50-50 to return. I think Chris Paul is unlikely to return, but I can see it happening. And I highly doubt Dario Šarić is back, even though I think there’s a good case for it.

Given the smoke coming out of the reports from those who cover the Warriors, I’d say Brandon Ingram is probably the top target right now. He’s entering the final year of his contract, and seems unlikely to re-sign with the Pelicans, so they’ll surely entertain offers. If they like Andrew Wiggins, there’s a natural fit there as long as the Warriors sweeten the pot. If they don’t like Wiggins, Chris Paul offers an expiring contract, and the Dubs can stack assets on top.

They should absolutely target Kevin Durant, but that doesn’t seem very feasible. They should poke around LeBron James, though that’s even less feasible.

I love this question so much that I’m going to end on it. What a great thought exercise!

I absolutely think that Warriors fans will see Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green again after the run ends, though I’m guessing there will be a few buffer years before they start becoming mainstays again. Here’s how I see it for each player.

Curry has established himself in the community and, like his baseball counterpart Buster Posey, I don’t see him leaving the Bay Area for very long after he retires. I think he’ll continue to call the Bay a home, and continue doing work in the community. I could even see him going the Posey route and taking an ownership role with the Warriors. Either way, while I don’t think he’ll be hanging out at Warriors games after his Under Armours are hung up, I expect that he’ll keep having an impact on the community and the organization in some form or fashion.

Green is obviously in a slightly more delicate situation, but hear me out: future broadcaster? We know that he enjoys working in media and, more importantly, that he’s good at it. Could he replace Kelenna Azubuike? Or maybe take Azubuike’s slot while Azubuike replaces Bob Fitzgerald? I’m guessing that when Green’s playing days are over, he works for TNT (or some other national broadcast after the new TV deal works itself out) for a few years, and does his podcast. And then I think he’d be a natural fit to return to the Warriors as a broadcaster. I could also see him coaching, though I’m skeptical that he’d be interested. Either way, he’ll make his presence felt, but if he’s not broadcasting, he probably won’t be around much.

As for Klay? Well, one never really knows with Klay. That’s why we love him. But he loves the Bay Area with all his heart. And he loves the Warriors with all his heart. He strikes me as someone who will keep living in the Bay into retirement, occasionally showing up unannounced to Warriors games. And I fully expect him to be a mainstay at Golden State Valkyries games. Maybe he’ll even moonlight on a few broadcasts before disappearing back onto his boat and into his mansion. He won’t be around too much … but he’ll definitely be around.