While we do not know for sure at this time, the actions by the Warriors’ front office over the last week have certainly made it appear more likely that they can and will go deep into the luxury tax for the 2015-16 season.
At the outset, I will say it one more time: Draymond Green will be a Warrior next season. Do not trust anyone but Woj who says otherwise. They have the right to match any offer and would be insane to not do so. The Warriors and Green agreed on a 5 year, $82 million deal to keep him in the Bay Area.
The most important development since winning the title came when Golden State used their draft pick on Kevon Looney without using the #30 selection to move David Lee. While Bob Myers could use the former Bruin as a sweetener to entice another franchise to take on the former All-Star, the pick itself would have been more appealing since teams can use that for whoever they prefer. Like the mystery box on Family Guy, it could be whatever they like (maybe even a boat!).
Not moving the pick takes on a greater significance for the Warriors because of their existing obligations in terms of first rounders. The Dubs owe their 2017 first round pick (unprotected) to the Utah Jazz as a part of the trade that cleared the space for Andre Iguodala, which means they cannot move their 2016, 2017 or 2018 choices without acquiring one first. Unsurprisingly, a 2019 first round choice does not carry the same value around the league as even the #30 pick this year since it is so far away.
That said, the David Lee trade market should take some time to materialize. Franchises are always optimistic at the beginning of free agency and think they can use their space better but some inevitably strike out and reevaluate their options. If LaMarcus Aldridge leaves Portland as expected, they could be a reasonable destination while both the Celtics and Raptors could be options as well. As I have said before, shedding Lee’s contract would be about saving ownership money but it would be an awfully large amount of it ($40-50 million in all likelihood) so if they can do so without giving up a ton it can be justified.
With or without David Lee, we should see a substantially similar Warriors squad on the floor in October. As a team that will be over the cap and very likely in the luxury tax, they have limited ways to add talent outside of last year’s roster. The Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents teams over the apron ($4 million higher than the luxury tax line) from acquiring a player via sign-and-trade, signing someone using the higher Mid-Level Exception or using the Bi-Annual Exception.
Those limitations mean that adding talent will need to come using the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (or Mini-MLE) or by moving players already on the roster. For the 2015-16 season, it will be $3.376 million and can be used for contracts from 1-3 seasons. Like the other MLE’s, the Taxpayer MLE can be split.
The problem with predicting targets for the Taxpayer MLE is that many of them are players looking for a larger payday. Marco Belinelli, Dorell Wright, KJ McDaniels (who would likely be matched), Kyle O’Quinn (likewise) and John Jenkins would all like to make more than what the Warriors can offer but one or more of them could fall into that price range.
Beyond David Lee and the Taxpayer MLE, the biggest decisions for Bob Myers come in the form of James Michael McAdoo, Justin Holiday, Ognjen (Wilt) Kuzmic and Leandro Barbosa. The team can keep each of them but already have 12 players on roster including Lee, Looney and Draymond Green. McAdoo has the best chance of returning because the Warriors already have a cheap season negotiated with him and it would be nice to see Holiday back as well if he does not get a great offer elsewhere.
The rest of the team (which may not be much) will likely be minimum salary players. Considering the league only allows for 15 players on Opening Day, I like seeing teams keep that fifteenth spot open to address injuries since needs can arise quickly. That said, if the right player is available, they certainly can strike a deal in July or August.
Other than Draymond and Lee, this should be a pretty quiet July for the Warriors and that should be considered a huge positive.