While a few teams with star players in their primes went all in this summer to chase the Warriors — Houston, Oklahoma City, Cleveland — there is a sense for many teams around the NBA they would rather spend the next couple of seasons building a core and aim for being good in three or four years when these Warriors may be vulnerable. While Golden State has Stephen Curry locked up long term and will do the same for Kevin Durant next summer, in a couple of summers Golden State will have to pay Klay Thompson, then the summer after that Draymond Green. There is hope around the league that those other two stars decide to want max money or larger roles the Warriors will have to move on.
Or, maybe not.
Thompson told Marcus Thompson and Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on their podcast he would consider taking less than the max to keep the team together. What about a Durant-level $9 million cut?
“I probably could, yeah. That much? I don’t know. I don’t make as much as Kevin off the court…. If it’s a few million … It’s a blessing whatever contract I sign. I would definitely consider it cause I don’t want to lose anybody.”
Maybe it’s because he grew up with a father who was a former No. 1 pick and a guy who got to win rings with Magic Johnson’s Showtime Lakers, but Thompson has not always treated money as the status symbol and sign of respect other players do. Don’t get me wrong, he wants to get paid, but he values winning more than most young players and he has said before he might consider a haircut on his salary to help keep the team together.
Ultimately, this becomes a question for Warriors’ ownership — how much tax are they willing to pay? They bit the bullet this summer re-signing Andre Iguodala and Shawn Livingston, but they got a little assist from Durant. The Warriors’ tax bill going to go up heavily in future years — Durant will opt out next summer and want a max after his one-year discount, then Thompson and Green eventually need to be paid. That said, the Warriors made $91 million in profit last season (according to leaked NBA documents) and soon they will move into a new home arena that will be a revenue generation machine. At what point does Warriors ownership balk at the price tag?
The problem for the NBA’s other 29 teams? They don’t have to answer that question for a couple of seasons, and in the interim they will be a force.