Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob told Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group that he’s willing to pay the luxury tax in 2015/16, acknowledging that it’s very likely the team’s payroll will be “substantially” over the tax line. The Warriors have more than $77.5MM in salary committed to just eight players for next season, and that doesn’t include a new deal for soon-to-be restricted free agent Draymond Green, along with other variables. The league won’t set the tax threshold for next season until July, but Sean Deveney of The Sporting News wrote in December that the latest projection pegged it at $81MM.
And you know what? We’re OK with that,” Lacob said to Kawakami about the likelihood the team will pay the tax. “I tell [GM] Bob [Myers] all the time; he keeps asking me, ‘Are you sure?’ We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to win a championship; I’ve said that before. You want to do it when the timing is right. Maybe the timing’s right, right? We’re pretty good. And so, I think we need to take advantage of that and go for it. Our fans, that’s what they want to hear. And the truth is, it’s what I want to hear. And what I want to think. And what our management and ownership … there isn’t one owner that I know of or one person in management here that doesn’t think this way. Luxury tax? It’s not something you want to do, it’s very penal. But [we] can’t be worried about that right now. That is really not the issue. The issue is being the best team we can be and we’re going to do whatever it takes.
Lacob was reluctant this fall to commit to the tax for next season as he negotiated an extension for Klay Thompson, as Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com wrote in October. The owner nonetheless consented to an extension that will pay Thompson up to $15.5MM next season. However, Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick of USA Today wrote last month that all signs pointed to the Warriors matching any offer for Green, even if it forced them to pay the tax. Green is a bargain on the minimum salary this season amidst a career year in which he’s overtaken the starting power forward spot from David Lee, who’s on the books for nearly $15.494MM next season, the final year of his deal.
The owner told Kawakami that he couldn’t say whether he would re-sign Green or how hard he would pursue a new deal with him, citing NBA rules. Still, Lacob offered that Green was “born to be a Warrior,” as Kawakami notes. “And we love him,” Lacob added. “I certainly think today as we look at our team, he’s part of our core and can’t imagine it being otherwise.”
Most executives around the league assume the salary cap will spike to $90MM for 2016/17, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote recently, and Lacob believes the rising cap, which lifts the tax line with it, will prevent the Warriors from having to pay the tax beyond next season, as he told Kawakami. The Warriors aren’t taxpayers this season and never have been, so they’re in no immediate danger of triggering the onerous repeat taxpayer penalties that would kick in after three years in the tax. Still, Lacob left the door open to continued tax payments if necessary.
“I can just tell you that the team is performing at a very high level here and as long as we have great players that we can hold onto, we’re going to do it,” he told Kawakami. “You don’t try to do these things for one year. We want to be a great team that hopefully wins a championship soon and that can sustain that over a long period of time. So it is our intention to do that no matter what.”
Golden State already has more than $53.9MM on the books for 2016/17, which is the final season on the contracts for Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala. The next year, the Warriors only have about $17.8MM committed.