Golden State Warriors’ Bright Future
The Golden State Warriors made a huge playoff splash and with their season now over they must shift their focus on retooling the roster and looking at the future.
The Dubs exceeded 2013 playoff expectations by reaching the Western Conference semifinals and taking the San Antonio Spurs to six games.
The Warriors accomplished this despite the absence of Brandon Rush for the majority of the season. Hence, Mark Jackson and company should be a more talented and experienced group entering the 2013-14 campaign.
However, a few things must happen in the 2013 summer to ensure that becomes a reality.
Jarrett Jack is scheduled to enter free agency after a superb season as the Warriors’ backup guard. Also, Carl Landry has a player option that allows for his return with the team, but his stellar play off the bench in 2012-13 makes it as such that he will probably decline it and look for a big free agent pay day.
Golden State is nearly guaranteed to be in luxury tax territory. Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins both have player options for the 2013-14 campaign they will almost certainly exercise. Jefferson’s gives him a salary of $11 million while Biedrins will earn $9 million.
Needless to say, Jefferson and Biedrins won’t command any offers near those amounts on the free agent market.
Consequently, the Warriors are in somewhat of a pickle. It looks as though they will have roughly $70 million in player commitments in 2013-14. Re-signing Jack and Landry will essentially be quite costly, and that’s before even discussing their prospective yearly salary averages.
All is not lost in the Bay though. At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, the Warriors could potentially have $30 million in cap space. Here is the list of players signed beyond 2013-14:
- Stephen Curry (signed until 2016-17)
- David Lee (signed until 2015-16)
- Harrison Barnes (team option for 2014-15 and 2015-16, and qualifying offer for 2016-17)
- Klay Thompson (team option for 2014-15 and qualifying offer for 2015-16)
- Festus Ezeli (team option for 2014-15 and 2015-16, and qualifying offer for 2016-17)
- Draymond Green (team option for 2014-15)
That’s an excellent core and the Warriors will have some money to spend. Mind you, the projected cap space comes with two qualifiers: firstly, re-signing Jack or Landry (or both potentially) changes the salary structure and consequently affects whatever amount they could offer potential free agents.
Secondly, Andrew Bogut’s contract and $14.2 cap figure expire at the end of 2014 postseason. However, unless the Warriors renounce him outright, his cap hold will actually reduce their salary cap. Golden State could re-sign him to a lower annual amount or simply opt to let him walk if his health is still a concern.
That being said, it’s a safer bet to assume the Warriors will have somewhere around $10 to $15 million in cap room after retaining at least one of their key free agents in 2013 and then keeping Bogut in the following offseason.
Who could the Dubs spend money on in 2014? Glad you asked.
A couple of attractive names will be on the open market while a host of others have early termination clauses in their contracts affording them the possibility of hitting free agency as well.
ESPN.com did a great job of outlining the players that become available in the 2013 and 2014 summers. We will focus our efforts here on the latter crop of players.
Here’s the list of quality restricted free agents in 2014 in no specific order:
- Greg Monroe
- Paul George
- Eric Bledsoe
- Larry Sanders
- Evan Turner
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Derrick Favors
- John Wall
After looking at the restricted players, let’s now delve into the unrestricted free agents:
- Paul Pierce
- Luol Deng
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Danny Granger
- Kobe Bryant
- Pau Gasol
- Carmelo Anthony
- Marcin Gortat
The next group of players has early termination clauses allowing them to hit the open market once the 2013-14 season concludes:
- Carmelo Anthony
- Chris Bosh
- LeBron James
- Dwyane Wade
Lastly, the players listed below have player options for the 2014-15 season. Should they decide to waive the option, they will hit the open market as well in the 2014 summer.
- Zach Randolph
- Tim Duncan
- Rudy Gay
Gazing into the crystal ball to look at the future serves a purpose here. In the event the Warriors strike out in re-signing their own players at the conclusion of the 2013 playoffs, all is not lost.
Perspective is a powerful thing and in this instance it will behoove the Dubs’ front office to use it. The most important player Golden State must keep is probably Jack.
His performances during the regular season and playoffs have made him practically indispensable. Therefore his services will be required moving forward. But then again, his importance to Mark Jackson was clearly evident during 2012-13, and that might suffice for another team to throw a boatload of cash, diamonds, pearls and perhaps even a Batmobile at him.
But again, it’s a matter of perspective. Losing Jack and potentially Landry as well would certainly be a setback, but the 2014 offseason provides the Dubs with an abundance of choices.
Golden State has young and quality talent locked up for the near future: an emerging superstar in Stephen Curry, a sharpshooter in Klay Thompson, a double-double machine in David Lee (possible trade chip) and a forward with tons of confidence and developing scoring ability in Harrison Barnes.
In addition, the franchise has cap space awaiting them once the 2013-14 season becomes a thing of the past.
An argument could be made this is the brightest the Warriors’ future has looked in the last 25 years. Such a statement is backed up by the talented roster and the team’s financial reality as opposed to the dreaded word most teams rely on: potential.
Golden State is no longer simply hoping their guys develop. The expectation is that they will, but the talent fits and is ready now.
The ride has just begun.
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