The Golden State Warriors are in a bit of a money quandary this summer. They have four players who will all need new contracts soon – Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole – and would have to pay a ridiculous luxury tax if they kept most of them.
Green, the boisterous big man who just claimed his fourth NBA Finals championship trophy with the Warriors since their dynasty began in 2014 is eligible for a new contract as soon August 3, and sources told The Athletic's Anthony Slater and Marcus Thompson II that Green believes he deserves a maximum contract that would lock him in for $164.2 million over the next five seasons.
That is, without question, a lot of money for Green – a player who hasn't averaged more than eight points per game since 2017 and at times looked like a shell of himself during this past season. Slater and Thompson II added that "the Warriors have no plans to offer Green a maximum extension, and there isn’t any current traction on any type of extension."
The Warriors' hesitation with extending Green this offseason appears less to be about the team's perception of Green's value and more about the timetable Golden State typically takes with extensions – Slater and Thompson II noted the Warriors usually wait until a player has one year left on his current contract before signing him to a maximum extension.
While Green technically has two years remaining on the four-year extension he signed before the 2019 season, he can opt-out of that contract before the final year of that deal prior to this upcoming season.
That impending possibility could force the Warriors' hand one way or the other.
If the Warriors aren't willing to offer the max to Green, there's a chance he could explore other options to get the contract he believes he deserves. It should be noted that Green also has a 15 percent trade kicker in his current deal if the Warriors move him, too. Golden State also runs the risk of angering Steph Curry if they decide not to keep Green, per Slater and Thompson II:
While his desire is to remain with the Warriors, Green is said to be willing to explore his outside options to get the kind of contract he wants. That’s a risk Warriors’ management appears willing to take. Green playing this season with a chip on his shoulder, motivated by proving to the league he deserves a max contact, could have a positive on-court impact.
Perhaps a bigger concern is how the NBA Finals MVP would feel about Green not getting an extension. Multiple sources said Curry would not be happy if the Warriors lost Green because the team didn’t want to pay him. Curry is under contract for four more years and has a desire for Green and Thompson to be with him for the length of his stay. A three-year extension would align Green’s contract with Curry’s.
Curry sees the Big Three as a package deal.
It's all about the money
Whether or not the Warriors extend Green seems to be all about money. If the Warriors found a way to pay Green, Thompson, Wiggins and Poole, the team could spend upwards of $200 million in luxury taxes by 2024 and $400-500 million in total. Those numbers appear untenable for Warriors owner Joe Lacob.
“I’m going to tell you your numbers are kind of messed up,” Lacob told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami when presented with that possiblity earlier in July. “... those numbers are not even remotely possible.
“You know, we kind of blew a hole in the system, and it’s not a good look from the league’s perspective," Lacob added. "They don’t want to see it happen. And there are limits. I’m not going to say what they are, but there are limits to what you can do.”
The NBA fined Lacob $500,000 for calling the luxury tax "very unfair" last week after the Warriors paid more than $170 million in luxury tax (an NBA record) and $346 million in total payroll last season.
So it sounds like even Warriors wanted to keep all their extension-eligible players, they wouldn't want to do it given the nature of the NBA salary cap structure. It's simply a matter of dollars and centers. And if an aging veteran like Green wants max-level money, he might be the odd-man out of the Warriors' original Big Three of Green, Curry and Thompson.