By: Danny Leroux
The week that was:
The Warriors headed over to China, winning two games against the Lakers and hopefully building the global brand of the team and the NBA in general. Good to see Klay have a strong game in the second tilt, scoring 25 points on 5/6 shooting from three.
The Soapbox: Golden State’s 2014 Salary Cap Picture
Since we are hearing discussion about extension negotiations with Andrew Bogut, an understanding of how Golden State’s cap looks heading into the Summer of 2014 could be useful.
An important thing to mention at the outset is that we do not know exactly where the salary cap will be for the 14-15 season, though we do have a decent idea. An early cap projection of $62.1 million stands as the best guess of the relevant cap number.
Let’s start with the contracts the Warriors are committed to paying for the 2014-15 season, though those players could be traded between now and then.
These are: David Lee, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Marreese Speights, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Festus Ezeli, Nemanja Nedovic, Ognjen Kuzmic, and $250,000 of Draymond Green’s contract.
Using the contract information I have available, this adds up to about $51 million. Without accounting for cap holds, minimum roster holds, or potential draft picks, this only leaves about $11 million in space. Adding in the remainder of Draymond Green’s contract (since it absolutely will be picked up) takes another half million dollars off that number. That does not include cap holds to hit the roster minimum and tools like the Mid-Level Exception which count against the cap unless Bob Myers elects to clear all the exceptions and use the Room MLE next summer.
Options beyond the guaranteed minimums
While the Warriors only have Draymond Green on a partially guaranteed deal, they have some important cap holds to consider. A cap hold is a value for free agents that counts against the salary cap unless the player signs (and then that figure will replace it) or the team renounces the hold and loses the ability to use any Bird exception to retain the player while going over the cap.
Andrew Bogut- $18,630,000 (30% of the cap, his maximum salary for 14-15)
Jermaine O’Neal- $2,400,000 (120% of his 13-14 salary as a Non-Bird player)
Toney Douglas- $1,920,000 (120% of his 13-14 salary as a Non-Bird player)
Kent Bazemore- $1,025,533 (130% of his 13-14 salary as an Early Bird player)
How this all fits together
While signing Andre Iguodala came at no meaningful cost for this upcoming season due to the way the Warriors cleared space, his contract will stay on the books for future seasons while Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush likely would have been cleared entirely. While completely justifiable, that decision took away most of the splashy free agent and trade possibilities for the summer of 2014.
Functionally speaking, the cap hold for Andrew Bogut dominates the discussion in this reality because either signing him or keeping the cap hold on the books takes the Warriors out of the non-MLE free agent market in next summer unless the team makes a big move with a guy on a guaranteed contract for expiring deals.
As long as the players in the first group are all (or nearly all) on the roster in July of 2014, the Warriors would not be able to do much with their cap space should Bogut end up elsewhere. If you include the full Mid-Level, Golden State will have nearly nothing to work with assuming they retain at least one of the Bazemore/Douglas/O’Neal group and I fully expect at least Kent Bazemore to be a Warrior in 2014-15. That understanding makes retaining Bogut all the more important since the team would not have the flexibility to get even a passable replacement without giving up quality assets. Since every single other big salary on the Warriors (Lee, Curry, Iguodala) runs until Klay Thompson gets his pay increase after his rookie deal concludes, the only way Golden State gets meaningful space in the next few seasons would be the same as 2014: dumping an existing contract on a team with space or swapping them for an expiring and then not retaining the player they traded for. Both of these options seem awfully unlikely considering how much management likes the players under contract.
If management wants to spend next summer, the best thing Warriors fans can hope for would be the utilization of the trade exceptions they generated in the Utah deal immediately after the moratorium ends in July 2014. While the team cannot go over the luxury tax apron of $74.307 million this league year due to acquiring Iguodala through a sign and trade (they are about $8 million under that hard line at the moment), the few days between the end of the moratorium and the expiration of Richard Jefferson’s $11.046m and Brandon Rush’s $4m exceptions on 7/10/14 might actually open up a few possibilities of teams looking to clear some logistical hurdles to sign a high-level talent paralleling what Golden State and Houston did this summer.
Seeing the entire picture shows just how much the Warriors need Andrew Bogut to re-sign since they cannot properly replace him unless they are willing to make a shockingly big change of course.
The Week to Come:
With only two pre-season games remaining (Wednesday @ Sacramento and Thursday vs. Portland), the Warriors need to get their roster down to a maximum of 15 players before the start of the regular season. As long as the players with guaranteed contracts stick, it becomes a battle between Seth Curry, Dewayne Dedmon, and Joe Alexander for one spot. I think both Seth and Dewayne will be NBA players in the near future and bringing Ognjen Kuzmic over this season reduces the need for another big, making the younger Curry the logical choice.