With an incredible campaign during the 2021-2022 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors went on a rampage during the playoffs. As they make their way to Game 1 of the Finals, we are seeing a glimpse of the 73-9 team that shook the basketball world.
With Klay Thomspon healthy, the rise of Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, and Steph Curry playing lights out, this team is on par with some of the squads formed by Golden State in recent memory.
Warriors fans rejoice, looking for the dynasty to start again, as the rest of the NBA fandom groans as their favorite teams get swept in the playoffs. In actuality, there’s no need to panic, because this successful stint will be short-lived. The league should no longer fear Steph Curry and the Warriors because they will not be winning a championship together after 2022 and in years to come.
Combined, the big 4 of Green, Wiggins, Thompson, and Curry take up $148 million in cap space just next year. These players are guaranteed to be on the Warriors roster as the offseason hits, but maybe not for long.
The team is projected -$80 million in cap space next year, ranked second to last only to the Atlanta Hawks. Being able to keep all of their most valuable players is incredibly unlikely unless they make some big moves and trade away some larger contracts.
The team’s expiring contracts in 2022 go as follows;
Otto Porter Jr
Gary Payton II
Each of these players is valuable in their own right, having significant roles on the team. Each player gave important minutes and contributed to the Warrior’s success. These players will be offered money during the NBA free agency period that, quite frankly, Golden State doesn’t have.
Possibly the most notable of the group are Looney, Porter, and Payton. During the playoffs, Looney has been a consistent starter, protecting the paint and dropping 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks.
Porter has been incredible off the bench, as a lengthy 3 and D wing who can shoot the ball at will. When healthy, his impact is great, and I can see him getting a multi-year contract this offseason.
Lastly, and possibly most important, is Gary Payton II. Although there have been injury concerns this year, Payton has shown flashes of his father in his play. His ability to finish is incredible, some of the best on the team. In 71 games, he averaged over 60% from the field as a guard. He’s flashy, athletic, and an incredible defensive piece, and he is going to demand $5 million or more during free agency.
This last section may be the most prevalent. Jordan Poole is becoming a bonafide superstar, giving all-star ability as a bench piece. He is averaging the third-most points on the team, only behind future Hall of Famers Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. Jordan Poole is the closest thing you can get to a Curry clone, and NBA executives know this.
Poole is going to want big money this offseason. Best case scenario for the Warriors, he plays on the team option and you have a year before you need to break the bank. But after next year, Poole is going to get offered a max contract. There are 29 other teams that want him, and about 15 have the money to get him. Poole cannot be a Golden State Warrior if he keeps playing like a superstar.
Even if you completely remove money from the equation, there gets a point where you play too well to be satisfied being the third fiddle. Poole is an incredible player with a gift for the game, and he is going to want to prove he can be the first option somewhere. He’s going to learn from the greats, and carry their legacy on somewhere else.
What the Future Holds
Simply, the Warriors have too much talent and too little money. Maintaining their big 4 seems incredibly unlikely, with a big trade on the horizon. They are going to have to move on from some young pieces, settle for mediocrity off the bench, and hope and pray that Jordan Poole wants to stay in Golden State.
It almost reminds me of the 2020 Lakers. They built a team for short-term success and lost their momentum in the following seasons. I see a similar future nearing for the Warriors. The NBA is a business, and business isn’t always booming. For the Warriors and Steph Curry, have your fun in these playoffs, because you’ll be watching them from the couch in years to come.
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