The Week That Was:
Other than the challenge of a road back-to-back, the Warriors did pretty well this week. The loss against the Nets may be disappointing because it cost the team a small piece of history but it illustrated just how hard win streaks are in the NBA, especially when the schedule does you no favors.
After that, the Warriors got a win against the Celtics that should have come much more easily but that happens from time to time. It felt like a runaway when they led 10-2 at the outset but Boston is a well-coached team that plays hard, a combination which can be difficult for a team with tired legs.
I wrote last week that I expected 2-1 and we saw exactly why.
The Soapbox: Lay of the Land for Potential Player Acquisitions
I am going to leave the nitty gritty of the salary cap and CBA for a later column but it feels like the right time to give a more basic outline of what the deadline could look like for Warriors fans.
First off, since they acquired Andre Iguodala via sign and trade, the “apron” which is $4 million above the luxury tax line serves as a hard cap for the Warriors for the entire league year. With the luxury tax line set at $71.748 million this league year, Golden State cannot be over $75.748 million for any purpose for any length of time. While that serves as the absolute high-end limit, it would be fair to assume that the team will not stay over the luxury tax since there could be a long-term cost in what is called the “repeater tax” assessed to teams that venture into luxury tax land three out of four years. Though we do not know for sure that ownership will pay the tax until they do, upcoming extensions for Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes coupled with long-term deals already inked with Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut make this quite likely. As such, delaying the clock another year would be a welcome development in terms of future spending.
After accounting for the salary cap hits from payments to Seth Curry (partial guarantee on his contract) and Dewayne Dedmon, the Warriors are looking at about $67.5 million in terms of the cap at the moment. Using the previously stated $71.748 million figure leaves Golden State with about $4.3 million in room before they hit the tax.
However, I should also note that most teams that close to the luxury tax line like to leave a little wiggle room since injuries may necessitate a short-term contract or two and franchises do not want a small transaction like that to put them over the line.
Unfortunately, the Warriors do not have much in the way of non-player assets. They traded their 2014 and 2017 first round picks to Utah in the salary dump so they cannot trade a first round pick at all before their 2019 selection without acquiring one first. The Dubs have also traded every second round pick from now through 2018 in various deals. Effectively all they can work with are offers to swap picks in 2015 and/or 2016, both of which have limited value since the Warriors should be good.
That means the team has three basic methods of acquiring talent: trade exceptions, players on roster, and minimum contracts.
Trade Exceptions– Through the aforementioned trade with Utah, the Warriors still have two trade exceptions that could yield players presently under contract: a $4 million one for Brandon Rush and one slightly above $11 million from our friend Richard Jefferson. While an exception can be split, it cannot be expanded so a player making slightly above $4 million (*cough*Kirk Hinrich*cough*) would have to break apart the bigger exception. Also, these can get complicated in Golden State’s situation since they have basically no picks to move. An exception cannot be combined with a player to make salaries work either so it effectively would need to be a player whose current team just wants to get rid of.
Additionally, both exceptions expire on July 10, 2014, right after the new league year starts, so it would be a tight (but certainly possible) window to use either at that point.
Players on Roster– Pick your favorite or your least favorite but there are not any clear-cut guys to move unless the team sees Jermaine O’Neal as being hurt for longer than they have let on so far.
Minimum Contracts– For once, the Warriors could actually be a desirable location for a veteran looking for some exposure and potentially even some playoff minutes. The fact that most of the major market teams are having rougher than expected years could make other destinations more possible. While Golden State fully expects for Festus Ezeli and Jermaine to be back, I have already said that Andrew Bynum would be compelling if he were willing to come for the minimum. It is hard to know who will be available and who would be interested in coming but it is another option on the table.
Without getting into specific hypotheticals or the really minute details, that should provide a decent roadmap of the options available to Bob Myers for the rest of this season.
If you have any further questions, hit me up on Twitter @DannyLeroux and I will do my best to answer them.
The Week to Come:
After a challenging start to the season, things are getting closer to balancing out for the Warriors. A full four days at home without games leads into a tilt with the Denver Nuggets that likely will be bigger for the road team due to the history between the two squads in both the recent and really recent past.
Following the Nuggets on Wednesday, the only two remaining games on the docket are a road back-to-back headlined by the final game of the regular season against the Oklahoma City Thunder. It loses some of its luster without Russell Westbrook on the floor though. The next night the Dubs face another team missing a key player since Cal alum Ryan Anderson will still be out for the New Orleans Pelicans.
After the game in New Orleans, it will be nearly two weeks until the Warriors play another road game and they will only have three total from January 19th to the All-Star Break. Remarkable.
I am expecting another 2-1 week considering the road back-to-back.