Last October, on the final day before 2012's extension deadline, the Warriors and Stephen Curry reached an agreement on a four-year, $44MM deal. As we watch Curry put up one memorable postseason performance after another for the Warriors this spring, it's easy to forget, but at the time the move was viewed as a significant risk for Golden State. Curry was coming off an injury-plagued 2011/12 season and had just reinjured his ankle during camp.
Six months later, it's not as if the Warriors are entirely in the clear, considering the extension hasn't even officially kicked in yet. But if Curry's long-term contract was a high-risk, high-reward move for Golden State, the team is certainly reaping the rewards at the moment.
Earlier today at SBNation.com, Tom Ziller noted that the Warriors saved themselves a significant amount of money by extending Curry when they did. Let's take Ziller's point one step further and take a closer look at exactly how much money the Warriors may have saved, and how the decision to get something done last fall affected Curry's potential free agency and Golden State's long-term cap situation.
First, here's how Curry's actual extension breaks down:
It's safe to assume that if Curry had reached restricted free agency this summer, he would have received at least one maximum-salary offer. The Warriors could have offered Curry a five-year max with 7.5% raises, or matched a four-year max (4.5% raises) offer sheet from a rival team. We won't know the exact amount of next year's maximum salaries until July, but we should be able to make a decent guess. A year ago, maximum salaries for players with 1-6 years of experience increased by 5.77%. If they increase by the same rate this year, these would have been the potential max scenarios for Curry:
For our hypothetical scenario, let's say the Warriors, having been reluctant to extend Curry last fall because of knee troubles, were once again reluctant to commit huge money to him for five years and simply matched a four-year offer sheet from a rival club. That would still put Curry on the books for about $61.74MM over the next four seasons, rather than $44MM. That's an increase of between $4-5MM in annual salary for every season between now and 2016/17.
Would that $4-5MM have made much difference for the Warriors? By '16/17, maybe not, but in the short-term, it would have had a huge impact on the team's cap situation. Assuming Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush exercise their player options for next season, the Warriors already have about $69MM committed to guaranteed salaries for 10 players. That doesn't leave much wiggle room below the tax line for the club to bring back Jarrett Jack or Carl Landry, or to add further reinforcements.
Now imagine if the team had to pay Curry a max salary of more than $14MM next season. That would put the Warriors' salary commitments over $73MM, meaning the club would already be in tax territory before even filling out the rest of its roster. Deadline deals this past year allowed the Warriors to avoid being a 2012/13 taxpayer, but barring a more significant trade, they won't be as fortunate in '13/14. Paying the max to Curry would have pushed the club even further into the tax, in a season when CBA changes ensure that tax penalties will become even more punitive.
The Warriors haven't always made the smartest roster decisions -- the presence of Biedrins and Jefferson on next year's books is proof of that. But extending Curry when they did looks like a stroke of genius at this point. Not only is the fourth-year guard shooting the Warriors into legit contention in the Western Conference, but his affordable salary next season and beyond should significantly reduce Golden State's tax bill and allow for additional cap flexibility down the road.
In a video interview, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune says that he isn't exactly sure what the hiring of Flip Saunders means for Rick Adelman. Zgoda also mentions that Saunders' offseason goal is to add perimeter shooters and "balance the roster," which he interprets to mean that the Timberwolves will try to land a shooting guard with good size and see what they can get for Derrick Williams. You can find more notes out of the Western Conference tonight below:
After Stephen Curry delivered the most electrifying one man performance of the 2013 playoffs, Timberwolves fans have been reminded of David Kahn's decision in the 2009 draft to take Jonny Flynn with the sixth overall pick instead of Curry. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter) was reminded today of Kahn's reasoning: the GM was in his first year and got scared by Curry cancelling his workout in Minnesota. At the same time, he fell in love with the Syracuse standout. Here's more from around the Association..
- Bucks forward Gustavo Ayon expects his team option to be exercised and is looking forward to returning, despite speculation surrounding his future in the NBA, agent Emilio Duran told RealGM's Shams Charania. Ayon saw limited playing time in Milwaukee and the club holds a $1.5MM option on him for next year.
- With Lakers guard Steve Nash is on the books for 2014, Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles (on Twitter) suggests that GM Mitch Kupchak should call the Raptors and gauge their interest in the Canadian. Nash is owed $9.3MM next season and $9.7MM in 2014/15.
- Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy opined that the Hawks were unwise to let coach Mike Woodson go in 2010, writes Neil Best of Newsday.
The news of the night so far in the NBA is that Pacers' Roy Hibbert and Warriors' David Lee have each been suspended one game without pay for their roles in last night's skirmish (Twitter links from Yahoo's Marc Spears). In addition, Lance Stephenson, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were each fined $35,000 for "escalating the altercation." Hibbert already told Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star that he will pay Stephenson's fine for being a good teammate, tweets Wells.
Lee will serve his suspension tonight, as the Warriors visit in the Knicks in one of 10 games on tonight's schedule. Mark Jackson, back in Madison Square Garden as head coach of the Warriors, has already expressed his displeasure with the league's decision, tweets Adam Zagoria of NBA.com. Here are some other odds and ends from around the league:
- Chad Ford of ESPN released his latest draft blog, available to insiders only and complete with an updated top 30. Ben McLemore of Kansas tops his big board but as Ford asserts, this year's top 10 promises to be as ever-changing as any in recent memory.
- Greg Oden will not decide on his next team until July, reports Sam Amico of Fox Sports. This agrees with last week's report from Marc Spears of Yahoo that Oden won't sign until the offseason, though it sounds like this came directly from Oden's agent, Mike Conley. Amico writes that Oden came close to signing with the Cavaliers earlier this month, but an agreement couldn't be reached. Conley believes that once Oden works his way into game shape, he will again have All Star potential.
- Free agent forward Donte Greene, now healthy after fracturing his ankle in August, will work out for teams at Eastern Michigan University on Sunday, tweets Marc Spears of Yahoo. Spears reported last week that the Nets, Pacers, Hornets, Spurs, Bulls, Knicks, Magic, Rockets, and Cavaliers have all checked in on Greene, who played the last four seasons in Sacramento. Citing a league source, Nets Daily has reported the Nets are not currently interested in filling their open roster spot by adding Greene.
- As was rumored yesterday, it appears that Kings minority owner John Kehriotis does in fact intend to submit a "back-up offer" to the Maloofs to buy the Kings, reports Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee. Kehriotis apparently has the capital to match the offer from the Seattle group and believes he has the legal right to counter their attempt to buy the team, according to the report.
- Meanwhile, the Sacramento city council voted on Tuesday night to approve the request made by city officials to begin negotiations over the financing of a new arena, reports Bizjak. These negotiations are a crucial element to Sacramento's bid to keep the Kings.
Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld has a new column examining which teams have a chance to be title contenders five seasons from now, taking into account possible moves in free agency and the ages of the teams' core players.
- Brigham believes the Thunder still have the brightest future, given that Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka will all be under 30 in five seasons.
- LeBron James' free agency will play a major role in determining the next title contender, Brigham writes. The health and effectiveness of Dwyane Wade will determine whether James stays with the Heat, but the Cavaliers and Lakers are also possible destinations.
- On that note, Brigham writes that, although Kyrie Irving is blossoming into a superstar, the Cavs will not be a contender unless James signs in Cleveland.
- The Bulls will still be contenders if Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah stay healthy, Brigham writes. He also notes that Nikola Mirotic will have come over to the NBA by then.
- The trade for Thomas Robinson added another young piece to the James Harden/Jeremy Lin core the Rockets have built, Brigham writes. Additionally, the team is still well under the cap and can add another high-level player via free agency.
- Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge give the Blazers a solid core to build around, writes Brigham.
- Brigham writes that there will be uncertainty every year for the next five as to whether Chris Paul will still be with the Clippers.
- Even if Stephen Curry's ankles don't hold up, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes give the Warriors a good young core, Brigham says.
- Brigham writes that the Pacers have excellent cornerstone players in Roy Hibbert and Paul George.
Although Kobe Bryant
registered a season low of 10 field goals on Friday night, his 14 assists proved to be instrumental in the Lakers'
rout of the Jazz. Mike D'Antoni
praised his star shooting guard's approach, saying that the dip in field goal attempts shouldn't be looked at as a sacrifice if the team ultimately comes out on top, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles
. McMenamin also takes a closer look at the impending return
of Steve Blake
, who practiced with the team today and could return to game action next week. You'll find the rest of tonight's Western Conference notes here:
- Earlier today, HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler answered some of his followers' questions on Twitter, saying that he doesn't think the Lakers aren't looking to move Dwight Howard before the deadline, Mike D'Antoni's job isn't necessarily safe right now, and that the Grizzlies aren't currently looking to make a deal with the Celtics (All Twitter links).
- Luke Ridnour has been a productive and dependable stop gap for the Timberwolves in spite of all the injuries he's handled this year, notes Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune.
- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro wants Lamar Odom to be more aggressive on the offensive end, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. Another 6'10 forward has been making waves in Los Angeles, albeit for the purple and gold. In another article, Ben Bolch examines Earl Clark's breakout year as a starter for the Lakers.
- Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin tells Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune that he wants to groom Gordon Hayward into a player who can be counted on to close games.
- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says there's no doubt in his mind that Dirk Nowitzki will be an All-Star again, writes Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW.
- Jason Smith has played with
a reckless abandon that has earned the attention and respect from his
teammates and the Hornets coaching staff, observes John
Reid of NOLA.com.
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post makes a case for why Warriors guard Stephen Curry was the biggest snub of this year's All-Star game.
The Lakers and Clippers both lost on Tuesday, meaning the always-fascinating Pacific Division has been thrust back into the spotllight. Here are the latest rumblings and links from around the division:
Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio spent the first quarter of the season on the sidelines, giving him plenty of time to keep up on the latest from around the league. On a conference call yesterday, Rubio said that he took special notice of Pau Gasol's situation in Los Angeles, according to HoopsHype (on Sulia). "Gasol has given the Lakers a lot and I don't feel he's getting enough in return, especially as far as confidence," Rubio said of his fellow Spaniard. "But he's a pro. If he goes to another team, I think he would make a contender out of that team. Wherever he goes, he's going to be fighting for the title." More on the Lakers and other items out of the Pacific..
- Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) spoke with a GM, assistant coach, and two scouts who blame Kobe Bryant's shooting output for the Lakers' woes. The Lakers are just 4-11 when Bryant takes 20 or more shots in a game but are 8-3 when he shoots less than 20 times. It's a surprising statistic when you consider that Bryant is leading the league in scoring with 29.5 PPG clip while shooting a career-high 47.7 percent from the floor.
- Warriors owner Joe Lacob sat down with Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group to discuss a number of topics, including Stephen Curry's four-year, $44MM extension. Lacob explained that there was risk in giving Curry the deal given his ankle problems heading into this season, but the two parties were able to agree on a number that accounted for that risk.
- In part two of his sit down with Kawakami, Lacob explained that even though the club would like to get under the luxury tax threshold this summer, they're not under any sort of mandate to do so. The Warriors would be willing to pay the penalty if there was an opportunity "to improve the team and to take [it] to a higher level."
- The Lakers probably wouldn't have been able to land Steve Nash this summer if Ramon Sessions hadn't opted out of his $4.55MM player option, GM Mitch Kupchak told Mark Medina of the Press-Telegram. Sessions went on to sign a two-year deal with the Bobcats and says that he's happy to have a sense of job security with his new team.
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Wednesday night:
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday.com writes that Mike Woodson has been more successful at coaching Carmelo Anthony than Mike D'Antoni was.
- James Harden was indifferent in his reaction to reports that the Wizards had rejected an offer from the Thunder to send him to Washington.
- Jason Terry did not rule out a return to the Mavericks later in his career, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com.
- ESPN.com's Chad Ford took a variety of questions from fans relating to the 2013 NBA Draft in a live chat.
- SNY.com's Adam Zagoria reports that Jabari Parker, the second-rated prospect of the 2014 Draft, is down to Duke and Michigan State in his choice of colleges.
- Chris Broussard of ESPN.com reports that John Wall will have his knee re-examined on Friday.
- Sam Amico of FoxSportsOhio.com writes that youth is not an excuse for the Cavs' poor play.
- D.J. Augustin has been a disappointment since signing with the Pacers this summer.
- Sean Michael Meager of the Oregonian has an interview with Trail Blazers rookie Will Barton about his recent D-League assignment and the adjustment from college to the NBA.
- Brandon Jennings was perhaps the best player up for a rookie-scale extension who didn't get one, but he's drawing comparisons to Chris Paul and Mike Conley from Bucks coach Scott Skiles for his play this season, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel documents.
- Stephen Curry is feeling happy with his level of play this season and is not disappointed with his contract extension, he tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.
According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, Suns starting center Marcin Gortat might be becoming "restless" in Phoenix, noting that he has tallied a total of just 50 minutes over the last two games despite not being in foul trouble. While Robbins references a "Polish-language publication" that suggested Gortat would welcome a trade to the Celtics, Bulls, Mavericks, or even back to the Magic, he also mentions that Phoenix hasn't given the impression that they're willing to deal him at this point. With that aside, here's the rest of tonight's tidbits coming from the Pacific Division:
- Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles looks at the success and production of the Clippers' second unit, which has started to gain some popularity with the nickname "A Tribe Called Bench."
- Warriors coach Mark Jackson firmly believes that Stephen Curry is an All-Star based on his performance after 20 games this season. It's hard to disagree, as the 24-year-old Davidson product is averaging 19.7 PPG, 6.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, and nearly 4 RPG for the fifth-seeded team in the Western Conference. Jeff Zillgit of USA Today also mentions that Curry has been worry-free about the ankle problems that had sidelined him for all but 16 games last year.
- Mike D'Antoni hints that Pau Gasol could play on Tuesday if his pain has lessened enough (Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer tweets).
- Compared to his experiences in Cleveland and Washington, 15-year-veteran Antawn Jamison isn't rattled by the Lakers' slow start. As of late, he has been one of the team's most consistent performers, hitting double figure scoring in six of the last eight games: "I'm comfortable, not thinking at all, having fun, competing and doing the things I normally do. So it's a lot easier. I was getting frustrated, but now I'm just out there playing" (Schmitt Boyer reports).
- Mike Monroe of Spurs Nation revisits the 1996 trade that sent then Charlotte-draft pick Kobe Bryant to the Lakers in exchange for Vlade Divac.
- In addition to the Rockets and Nuggets, the Lakers cracked HoopsWorld's list of most surprising teams this season from the Western Conference.