The NBA offseason is one week old. And the Warriors are on the game’s third “C.”
Golden State has competed. It has celebrated. Now comes the commerce.
As has been reported, Durant intends to opt out of the second year of his two-year contract and re-sign with Golden State at a cost below his max value, in hopes that the team is able to retain sixth man Andre Iguodala. “Iggy” will explore free agency and his worth to championship contenders, according to The Vertical, and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP is expected to fetch as much as $20 million per year.
Should the Warriors miss out on keeping the man who has been an integral piece to their success since becoming part of it in 2013, re-signing Shaun Livingston could become the next course of action.
Livingston made $5.8 million last season, playing 76 games — averaging 17.7 minutes — and scored 5.1 point per game. At 31, he is two years younger than Iguodala, though his impact falls short by comparison to his fellow veteran guard.
If the Warriors reach a deal with Iguodala, Livingston becomes dispensable. If not, though, the team would not serve itself well bidding adieu to both.
McCaw’s play in the playoffs — in particular the Finals — showed he is ready to step into a bigger role, filling the role of the vet who departs.
As for the straw that stirs the drink, Stephen Curry will finally be paid for what he has brought to the franchise. After playing for relative peanuts, signing a four-year, $44 million extension in the midst of health questions, Curry will cash in on a “super max” deal worth more than $200 million over five years.
With that group putting Golden State over the cap alone, the Warrior ownership will be paying luxury taxes while heading into the free agent market in search of more “ring chasers.”
JaVal McGee and Ian Clark earned themselves too much money — in the primes of their earning career, no less — for the Warriors to maintain any real expectation of retaining either. David West is likely pondering retirement, while Zaza Pachulia may also go out looking for another pay check.
The team may retain James Michael McAdoo in hopes he continues to grow, but that is unlikely as well.
That means the Dubs will need to find four (at least) free agents willing to play for the veteran’s minimum (or thereabouts) to fill a roster.
Each is on the wrong side of 30, has built a fiscal nest egg, and is short a ring. And, most importantly, fit the Warrior model of the team-first mentality.
Curry, who grew up around Carter, may have the ear of his father Dell Curry‘s former teammate — the two played together on the Toronto Raptors the final three years of the elder Curry’s career. Randolph, Carter’s teammate over the past three seasons in Memphis, has said in the past that he views fellow Michigan State alum Green as a little brother.
Sefolosha could be viewed as a poor-man’s version of Iguodala, with his defensive effectiveness and willingness to take a backseat on the offensive end of the court. Nene could fill the role of West, and Scola offers a veteran’s savvy and still effective mid-range jump shot.
With Jones having yet to show is able to play in the NBA — limited to 85 minutes on the court during his rookie season — the most important piece for general manager Bob Myers going forward is a center (or center tandem) who can play 24 minutes per game, rebound and set screens. Because, in the end, it will be Curry, Durant, Green, Thompson and Iguodala, Livingston or McCaw that will be relied upon to win when it matters.
As for the competition, opposing GMs head into free agency (starting July 1) asking themselves a different question from the one of summers past. Teams are not looking for a way to get better, they are looking for a way to beat the Warriors.
Paul George, who told the Indiana Pacers he will not remain with the team when his current contract expires next season, is the top prize, and nearly every contender is exploring trade options, wondering if he can do for them what Durant did for the Warriors. But, those teams did not win 73 games, and they don’t boast the two-time reigning MVP.
The Los Angeles Lakers are making the strongest push for “PG13,’ while the Cleveland Cavaliers (three-peat winners of the Eastern Conference Finals) and Boston Celtics (2017 regular season No. 1 seed in the east) are also in the hunt.
The Los Angeles Clippers, on the other hand, are trying to lure LeBron James to the west coast, with Jerry West leading the charge. The San Antonio Spurs are linked to free agent point guard Chris Paul. Top rated free agent (not coming off a championship season) Gordon Hayward is also being wooed by the Celtics.
In the end, though, only three or four teams — Cavs, Spurs and Celtics — have justifiable hopes of unseating the champs, all other teams are just building to challenge in the future.