Welcome to Warriors Weekly after a roller coaster of a week despite the team not losing a game.
The Week that Was:
The Spurs game feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?
This season’s biggest matchup so far was a walk for the Warriors and a nice statement for the rest of the league, in case they needed to make another one. One thing to remember from Monday is that the Dubs were ruthless focusing their offense on going after Tony Parker whenever he was on the floor- if that continues when they play again, Pop will have to consider making some changes to his rotations in the playoffs.
Wednesday’s game against Dallas had a little of that letdown feeling but the Warriors still won by 20 because of course.
Saturday’s game against the Sixers was inarguably Golden State’s worst win of the season and the fourth quarter was arguably their worst of 2015-16 regardless of game outcome. The Dubs followed that up with an astonishingly bad first quarter against the Knicks but rebounded in more than enough time to get a less stressful victory.
Stephen Curry Above the Break Three Update: Stephen Curry has made 186 above the break three pointers this year, more than three teams. Curry’s 45.1% shooting from there is better than every NBA team from mid-range and all but two teams in the paint (non-restricted area) without even accounting for the fact that 3 > 2.
Stephen Curry Total Three Pointers Update: Stephen Curry now has 221 made three pointers on the season, tied for 21st all-time for a single season with Antoine Walker, Mookie Blaylock and Kyle Korver last season. He is ten threes away from another top-10 all-time season and has played in 46 games.
The Soapbox: Explaining the Harrison Barnes Situation
After his game-winner against Philly on Saturday, there was another smattering of the “max player” talk around Harrison Barnes. Given my status as a CBA nerd and Warriors writer, it felt like a good time to explain the situation.
Barring the unforeseen, Harrison Barnes will be able to get whatever offer sheet he wants from some team. With current cap estimates, this would be a three-year, $65.6 million deal with a $23.7 million player option for the fourth year. That would be the post-cap explosion equivalent of the contract Gordon Hayward signed two summers ago which Utah matched.
Even if the Warriors do not think Barnes is worth that kind of money, they absolutely have to match it.
An important thing to remember is that the NBA does not count anything for luxury tax purposes until the last day of the regular season. That means Golden State could keep Barnes around until the February trade deadline and then move him without having to pay any tax on his salary for that season. In some ways, that was one of the bigger mistakes in how OKC handled the Harden situation: they had a year and a half to wait for the best offer (and see how the team turned out) instead of moving him quickly. The Warriors have less time than that since Barnes is already a free agent but the point stands.
Additionally, Barnes will have value in the league at even his highest salary. As a player who can defend either forward spot and hit threes, Barnes would make a lot of teams better and there will not be many players available who can say the same. Denver used similar logic to re-sign Nene years ago and ended up flipping him for JaVale McGee before the end of that season, a move that failed eventually but for an entirely different reason. Even if the Warriors retain Barnes on his least friendly contract, they would be able to move him for assets if/when they want barring the unforeseen (injury, etc).
While certainly a practical consideration, the Warriors have plenty of reason to pay the luxury tax. They already won a title without having to pay it and now have a squad in contention every season with most contracts locked in before league salaries go crazy in 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, the heavy hitting “repeater” tax rate is not in play for a long time because that requires a franchise have paid the tax in three of the previous four seasons and then owe it again that season. The league will have a new Collective Bargaining Agreement years before that point and would likely avoid paying it anyway since only Curry will get a huge raise in 2017.
Finally, Barnes not signing an extension means he has a low cap hold until he has a new contract with the team. This facilitates the crazy Kevin Durant possibilities I have written about before. Since HB cannot sign with a team until after the moratorium ends on July 12th, the Warriors get time to try and get something big done without any limitation. That is true even if he agrees to return to the Warriors during that time- Khris Middleton did that last summer and waited for the Bucks to add Greg Monroe before formally signing to make it all work. Even a non-cooperative Barnes would give the Warriors two weeks to make everything happen.
These factors work together to paint a picture where the only way Barnes plays in another uniform to start the 2016-17 season should be if all sides want it, meaning the Warriors have a potent replacement already lined up. One of the most interesting scenarios is whether Barnes would be willing to accept a sign-and-trade to Oklahoma City in the event Durant wanted to join the Warriors. Barnes and OKC signing off would enable a possibility where Golden State could keep nearly the entire rest of the team together but it feels like Barnes would have better long-term options on the table than a Thunder squad with Westbrook and Ibaka on expiring contracts. Either way, it is fun to think about.
As fans of other teams will learn soon enough, value is relative and about to change substantially with the new salary cap numbers. That reality coupled with the Warriors having match rights on Harrison Barnes means the possibilities for July 2016 are actually pretty straightforward.
The Week to Come:
A week low on games but high on meaning for the franchise.
After Sunday’s game, the team heads to Washington D.C. for the game against the Wizards Wednesday and their White House visit on Thursday.
From there, they return home for their first game of the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder/Warriors games at close to full strength have been awesome in both arenas and that should continue on Saturday. I am leaning towards 2-0 but either game could be a loss with a dip in quality like we saw the last few games.