Despite the hopes and dreams of so many who loathes the Warriors and, more specifically, Warriors hegemony, Golden State’s dynasty will not likely crumble this summer. Among the key players, only Kevin Durant is a free agent and he has consistently said he plans to re-sign. (There are some tiny cracks in this particular facade that we’ll be discussing in further detail as we approach July. But for now, let’s assume he’s telling the truth and will re-sign.)
So let’s fast-forward to the summer of 2019. Odds are the Warriors will have won a fourth championship in this era; it’s impossible to know how likely that is at this point, with rivals yet to make their move this summer, but Golden State is the favorite. And now another Warriors star — Klay Thompson — will be a free agent.
There is a dispute as to whether Thompson will sign an extension keeping him in Golden State long-term this summer. Financially, Thompson would be leaving so much money on the table were he to do so. According to Albert Nahmad’s calculations, a Thompson extension signed this summer could be worth up to $102 million for four years. A Thompson max contract from another team signed in 2019 would be worth up to $139 million for those same four years. The Warriors could offer up to $188 million for five years.
You trust the reporting that Thompson is ready to sign an extension while also raising your eyebrow on all that bread left in the basket.
Draymond Green, meanwhile, is the shakier case. He’ll be a free agent in 2020. And he already took his haircut. As ESPN’s Chris Haynes detailed, Green took a lesser contract than was possible in 2015, he says, to allow a Kevin Durant recruitment to take shape the following year. Haynes reports in that piece — a piece full of Green quotes, mind you — that Draymond is not planning to take a discount in 2020. All reports suggest an extension this summer, given the same financial parameters as exist for Thompson, is a complete non-starter. The same likely applies next summer.
There’s one more wrinkle with Green: he’s far more likely than Thompson to be eligible for a super-max contract in 2020 by virtue of his typical placement in the Defensive Player of the Year race.
Green would be eligible for a designated veteran contract — also known as the supermax — if he wins Defensive Player of the Year, MVP, or is named to an All-NBA team in 2019-20. He won the 2017 DPOY award but isn’t a finalist this season. As Nahmad outlines, Green can sign for just $72 million over three years this summer, $100 million over four years next summer, or — if he waits until 2020 — $195 million over five years. If he becomes eligible for the supermax, he could sign for $228 million over five years.
Mind you, Green will already be 30 by 2020. The odds of the Warriors offering a supermax are slim. But it’s on the table, and if Green is serious about grabbing every dollar he’s due, then it’s worth thinking about.
Thompson’s new contract in the 2019-20 season, assuming Durant sticks around, is going to create massive luxury tax bills for the Warriors. Everything comes due in the end, and at every step from this point forward, Warriors ownership will have to decide whether complete domination is worth the cost or if Golden State can make due with mere excellence.
That’s the choice here, starting with Thompson’s deal: pay for something like invincibility, or save money and face a highly winnable fight for glory?
Of course, there are a hundred factors at play here. Again, we’re assuming Durant re-ups. We’re assuming he and Stephen Curry maintain a high level of play into their 30s, and stay healthy. We’re assuming the Warriors don’t find a way to add Anthony Davis to the mix. We’re assuming another true superpower doesn’t rise to the occasion, killing the “paying for invincibility” argument. We’re assuming the salary cap remains relatively stable despite the potential gain of sports betting revenue. We’re assuming the Earth will still spin on its axis.
But from our current view, only two things can destroy the Warriors: time and money. If it’s money, the new contracts for Thompson and Green — the Warriors known best for their sacrifices — will be the trigger.