The Warriors have a literal champagne problem.
Fresh off their NBA Finals victory and champagne showers in Boston, Golden State finds itself in an enviable dilemma: They have too many good players.
The team’s ‘two-timelines’ plan worked. The old blended with the young and created a championship team.
And now everyone wants to get paid.
That’s where the trouble comes in for the warriors.
Draymond Green is eligible for an extension on Thursday. He wants everything he can earn under the league’s collective bargaining agreement — $164 million — and he deserves it.
Andrew Wiggins is due a new contract, too, at roughly $40 million a year. He deserves it, too.
Jordan Poole is eligible for a massive pay raise as well. That deal is going to be over $100 million. That’s just.
The Warriors print money with Chase Center, but all these extensions, in addition to the luxury tax on top, would find the team’s payroll ceiling fast.
Winning now and later is expensive.
The Warriors can try to thread the needle — they can test fate and try to offload Poole or Wiggins or even Green — or they can solve the problem right here and now by committing to one timeline and trading for Kevin Durant.
The Warriors kicked around the idea of trading for Durant when the soon-to-be 34-year-old former Dub put in his trade request to the Brooklyn Nets a month ago. Every team in the NBA did.
But despite Durant being one of the NBA’s best players, there is zero momentum behind him on the trade front. There’s an occasional blip of interest, but the odds are increasing that he will remain a Net at least for the start of the season.
Of course, I understand why the warriors want to stick with the formula that won them the title. It was a big, bold experiment and it worked!
But either warriors ownership becomes increasingly comfortable with the fat luxury tax checks it’s been sending the league office, or it commits to a single timeline. There’s no in between here.
Despite a bit of trade fervor around Durant in the days following his request, no one has either been able or been willing to meet the Nets’ trade demands.
I think the warriors can.
The Dubs have always had the best possible trade package for Durant. That hasn’t changed over the last month — it’s just become clearer how difficult it will be to keep the Warriors’ two timelines together.
But if the Dubs ship off their “middle class” — Poole and Wiggins — and one of their super young players — say, Jonathan Kuminga or James Wiseman — the Warriors can maintain (if not expand) their championship window in the present while keeping it open in the post-curry future, which might be more than a half-decade away.
Yes, the Warriors would be offering the Nets a young star in Poole, the best two-way wing in the most recent NBA Finals, and a big man who still carries immense promise at age 21, but they would effectively be cutting payroll. Poole and Wiggins will assuredly be making more than $60 million a year, combined, under their new contracts. Durant has four years remaining on a $194 million extension — his last big-money contract.
The trade would require a few first-round picks, too, but I can’t imagine it’d take too many. So, who cares about first-round picks when the Super Villains are back together?
Whatever weirdness there was at the end of Durant’s time in Oakland, it no longer seems associated with the warriors’ players. His beef with the media — myself included — is overblown, especially in an NBA where access is far more limited. And while I hear from most fans that “we don’t want him back”, I am certain that stance would melt instantaneously if Durant were wearing No. 35 for the warriors again.
Now, I don’t know if Golden State would be Durant’s top destination preference — reportedly, it’s Phoenix — but I’m guessing he wouldn’t veto a trade back to Basketball Nirvana, even though it carries the demerit that I hang around it .
This might just work.
With his trade request, Durant had the courage to admit that he made a mistake in going to Brooklyn. Good on him, no matter where he goes.
I’d like that destination to be Golden State. He can solve the Warriors’ two-timelines problem and augment a legacy that felt unfinished when he left.
I think this route is preferable to guessing which of the warriors’ top players should be skimped or shipped. Once you reach that point, you’re effectively shaving your title chances.
Yes, one timeline is the way to go. The Warriors should dominate the present and trust their now-proven ability to identify, draft, and develop young players. They built an impressive young core before — they can do it again.
And in the meantime, the most impressive four-man lineup in NBA history — albeit a bit older than in their heyday — will be back together in the arena originally built for them.