The Warriors are once again at the top of the NBA.
This status, once unimaginable for this organization, has become so commonplace that forward Draymond Green called the NBA Finals the “Warriors Invitational” Thursday night after Golden State’s fourth title – and sixth league appearance – in eight years. .
Because the Warriors championship this year was unplanned, full reasons will be given by next June as to why the Dubs will be one-term title winners.
But there’s no reason to believe the Dubs won’t be able to win again next year.
“I feel like next year we’ll be even better,” Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins said Saturday.
He’s probably right.
Let’s start with the astonishing but verifiable fact that when Green, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry start every game in a playoff series, the Warriors have never lost.
No, not a single series.
It’s a run that dates back to the 2015 playoffs. And until that streak ends, it would be unwise to pick against the Warriors.
With this team’s veteran core, an impressive young core, and Wiggins emerging as one of the best wings in the NBA, the Warriors are built for success, not just for next year, but for many years to come.
Yet, while the Warriors are built for long-lasting success, building in the bay is expensive and prices keep rising.
How the Warriors handle this upcoming offseason will go a long way in determining whether they can come back to back or get back in the pack.
The main obstacle to the Warriors repeating themselves as champions next year is the green. No, not the player – I mean cash and sound.
The Warriors have seemingly endless funds, but we may be nearing the point where we find the limit. They’re likely to set an NBA record for payroll next season — up from $350 million this season — and that will be the case even if they don’t bring everyone back from that championship team.
To date, Golden State is well over the NBA’s luxury tax threshold with only the contracts they already have on the books for next season. They’re so steeped in tax that they’ll probably have to pay $6 on top of every dollar spent in the offseason.
So buy all the headline hats, t-shirts and trinkets you can find, Warriors fans. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob will leverage that extra revenue to keep this team together.
Curry, Green and Thompson are locked up for a few more years – there’s no need to worry there.
But there’s a reason Wiggins and Jordan Poole shot a video in the Warriors locker room after clinching the title where they proclaimed they were about to “take a sack”.
Money, that is.
And they are not wrong.
Wiggins, 27, is entering the final year of his five-year contract, signed with Minnesota and traded to Golden State in 2020. A fair extension would keep Wiggins at his current salary, but after that standout performance in the playoffs and finals, he would not be inappropriate to ask for a raise.
“I would love to stay here,” Wiggins said. “Being here is top notch.”
Negotiating a new deal could be tricky for the Warriors as Jordan Poole, who broke last season, also has to extend his contract. The Warriors have until October 17 to reach a new deal with the rising playmaker. Otherwise, he will become a free agent in a year.
Poole had a historic postseason for a 22-year-old and as such could command up to $20 million a year on the new contract. The Warriors shouldn’t have to choose between the two, but that doesn’t mean paying both players will be easy.
With the Warriors’ luxury tax situation, you can see exactly how much winning costs.
One would have to imagine that Warriors ownership — even with all the extra playoff revenue and the Chase Center being an ATM for the team — will hit a spending limit at some point.
No one knows when that day will come, but every off-season offers are handed out for the next five years. We may have our answer soon.
In the meantime, settling Wiggins and Poole’s contracts should be the team’s top priority. But no matter what happens with these negotiations, they are also unlikely to lose for the coming season.
The same can’t be said for Kevon Looney, Gary Payton II and Otto Porter, all of whom have been crucial in the playoffs and all of whom deserve raises.
Maybe those increases come from other teams. Perhaps the Warriors are being helped by a less than robust free agent market.
The good news for the Warriors is that even if they lose one of those three big players, they have three young players who could, in theory, fill those positions. Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody have played positive minutes for the Warriors this postseason. Both have a bright future.
The Warriors also expect James Wiseman — the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft — to play in 2022-23 after missing last season with a lingering knee injury.
The Warriors organization could have created a perpetual winning machine.
No matter what the veteran Warriors core loses in the years to come, the young Warriors players will pick up. All the while, Wiggins and hopefully Looney (26) and Payton II (29) remain the team’s regular metronomes, eventually becoming the veterans.
It will be very expensive to maintain, but if that’s the price of winning championships, the bills will be paid.
So the question isn’t whether the Warriors can win another title next season.
No, the real question is how much more can they add before Curry and company hang up their sneakers?
I wouldn’t put a limit on it. Not yet.
Because the Warriors could pay. Betting against them does not.