2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Golden State Warriors

Hoops Rumors is previewing the 2020 offseason for all 30 NBA teams. We’re looking at the key questions facing each club, as well as the roster decisions they’ll have to make this fall. Today, we’re focusing on the Golden State Warriors.

Salary Cap Outlook

The Warriors won’t have any cap room available in the 2020 offseason. In fact, adding the cap hit for a top-five draft pick to their already-pricey roster will easily put the Dubs in luxury tax territory.

Still, assuming team ownership remains willing to spend big, Golden State has some flexibility to add roster upgrades using the taxpayer mid-level exception (which should be worth at least $5.7MM) and a $17.2MM traded player exception.

Our full salary cap preview for the Warriors can be found right here.

Roster Decisions To Watch


  • None

Non-Guaranteed Contracts:

Two-Way Contracts:

  • None

Free Agents:

  • None

2020 Draft Assets

First Round:

  • No. 1 overall pick (pending lottery results)

The Warriors are tied for the most favorable lottery odds, with a 14.0% chance at the No. 1 overall pick and a 52.1% chance to receive a top-four selection. Because they had the NBA’s worst record, they can’t fall further than No. 5 (47.9%).

Second Round:

  • No. 48 overall pick
  • No. 51, 52, or 53 overall pick (pending tiebreaker)

The Warriors traded away their own second-round pick (No. 31), but acquired Dallas’ and Utah’s selections. The Jazz pick could end up anywhere from No. 51 to 53 depending on the results of a tiebreaker with Oklahoma City and Houston.

Three Key Offseason Questions

1. What will the Warriors do with their top-five draft pick?

If the Warriors were in a position to draft a potential generational talent such as Zion Williamson with their lottery pick this fall, there would be little doubt that they’d hang onto their first-rounder and simply plug that player into their lineup.

However, with no consensus on who should be the No. 1 pick in 2020 and no surefire superstars in this year’s draft class, it might make more sense for the veteran team to shop its top-five pick and trade it to the highest bidder.

Just one year removed from their fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance, the Warriors are well positioned to bounce back in a big way in 2020/21, with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back in the mix. The right deal could give Golden State the immediate upgrade necessary to once again enter the season as the championship frontrunner.

Unlike most clubs picking high in the lottery, the Warriors aren’t in desperate need of an infusion of young talent. And with teams around the NBA potentially tightening their purse strings as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, acquiring a high-upside rookie on a cost-controlled four-year contract could hold significant appeal to a potential Warriors trade partner, increasing the Dubs’ leverage in negotiations.

Still, there are compelling reasons for Golden State to considering keeping the pick. For one, the Warriors’ stars are all now in their 30s — going all-in on veterans would mean risking having the franchise’s window of contention close within the next few years. Adding a young building block could help eventually ease the transition from the Curry/Thompson/Draymond Green-era Warriors to the next generation.

It’s also worth considering what exactly the Warriors could get back in a trade involving their lottery pick. When the Lakers landed the No. 4 pick in the 2019 lottery, it was a foregone conclusion that they’d use that pick as part of their offer for Anthony Davis. There are no superstars this fall who are locks to be on the trade block and who have conveyed a desire to play in the Bay Area. A top-five pick could net the Warriors a good return, but the opportunity to land a bona fide star may simply not be there this offseason.

Although I certainly expect the Warriors to explore a variety of trade options involving their lottery pick, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team’s approach to that selection is similar to the one it took with D’Angelo Russell. When Golden State acquired Russell in a sign-and-trade, it did so knowing he’d have enough value to eventually be flipped for an asset – or assets – that better complemented the current roster.

The Warriors could take the same path with their top pick, using it to draft a player while recognizing that that prospect could eventually headline an appealing package if the right veteran star reaches the trade market.

2. What will the Warriors do with their $17MM+ trade exception?

The Warriors’ decision on trading their draft pick is complicated by the fact that they have a $17MM+ traded player exception that will expire if it’s not used by October 24. The exception allows the team to acquire a player (or players) earning up to $17,285,185 without sending out any salary themselves. That ability could be extremely useful in any draft-day trade.

Most trade exceptions expire without being used, but this one – besides being unusually large – is also one of the only viable avenues for the Warriors to make a roster upgrade this fall. They project to be well over the tax line, meaning they’ll have no cap room, no bi-annual exception, and will only have the taxpayer version of the mid-level exception. If they don’t use this TPE, their flexibility to add talent will be limited.

That’s not to say that the Warriors are obligated to use the exception. Adding salary to the roster will increase Golden State’s tax bill exponentially. And while Joe Lacob and company have never been shy about spending big, we’re in uncharted territory now, with no real sense of when fans might be allowed back in the Warriors’ new arena. The revenues from the Chase Center were supposed to help offset the rising cost of the club’s roster, but barring a major nationwide and statewide improvement on the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the club won’t be selling out its building anytime soon.

The Warriors will want to take advantage of Curry’s and Thompson’s prime years and aren’t about to cut costs. But acquiring a player earning $17MM would likely increase the team’s tax bill by three or four times that amount. Although there are some intriguing potential targets out there, guys like Evan Fournier, Will Barton, J.J. Redick, or Josh Richardson aren’t exactly stars — increasing overall 2020/21 payroll by $50-80MM to land one of them might not be the best use of the organization’s resources.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that using a $17MM trade exception to acquire a player earning $5MM – instead of $17MM – shouldn’t be viewed as a wasted opportunity. If a lesser-priced player can provide similar production, it’s the prudent move, even if it means not taking advantage of the full exception. As such, if the Warriors use their TPE, they may prioritize finding a bargain veteran or a player on a rookie contract who could be acquired without breaking the bank.

3. What’s the plan for Andrew Wiggins?

The cleanest way for the Warriors to avoid an astronomical tax bill while still making some changes to their roster would be to trade Wiggins. Of the four Warriors players earning more than $22MM in 2020/21, he’s the most expendable, having not been part of their championship teams.

But Wiggins still doesn’t have positive trade value at this point. When he was dealt to Golden State for Russell, there was plenty of talk about how playing on the wing alongside Curry, Thompson, and Green would be an ideal situation for the former No. 1 pick, giving him a chance to rebuild his value as a complementary option rather than a go-to guy. However, we haven’t actually seen whether that forecast will come to fruition, in part because he hasn’t had a chance to play with the team’s three stars yet.

In the limited action he did see for the Warriors, Wiggins didn’t look all that different from the player we saw in Minnesota. He can score, but not especially efficiently. And the team was worse defensively when he was on the court than when he sat.

With three years and $94.7MM left on his contract, Wiggins still has to take significant strides before he can realistically be considered a positive trade asset. That means it probably doesn’t make much sense for Golden State to try to move him this offseason.

If the team legitimately believes that Wiggins will thrive in his new role, it should give him a chance to do so. If it works, Warriors management can decide at that point whether it makes more sense to keep him in that role or to revisit the trade market with a more appealing asset in hand.

Information from Basketball Insiders and ESPN was used in the creation of this post. Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

newest oldest

19 thoughts on “2020 NBA Offseason Preview: Golden State Warriors

  1. GangGreen23

    I think the Warriors own one of the 76’ers draft picks in the 2nd Round, for the Alec Burks/Glenn Robinson trade. It may be the pick the Jazz owe to the 76’ers.

    • Strike Four

      Yes, they end up with Dallas’s 2020 second round pick for the Burks/Robinson deal. They also got Denver’s 2021 second rounder and Toronto’s 2022 second rounder in that deal.

  2. Sillivan

    Warriors have 2 second round picks in 2020.
    #49 (via Jazz)

    Golden State Warriors have traded center Willie Cauley-Stein to Dallas in exchange for a 2020 second round draft pick (via Utah)

  3. Sillivan

    If using 17.2 million TE, Wiggins will be traded.

    Warriors get Snell (12M salary)
    Pistons get Wiggins, 1 First and 3 seconds
    2020 swap picks (assuming that Warriors get better lotto)

    • Strike Four

      Absolutely no way GSW gives up Wiggins for Snell. Wiggins is a star, Snell is a scrub.

      • Sillivan

        To control the tax bill less than 60 million you’ve got to trade away Wiggins to reduce the cost or
        trade Wiggins and next weeks pick for an all star
        Then use 12 million TE to get an average player

        • harden-westbrook-mvps

          Trade exceptions are used to take on player salary, not to send out salary to another team to reduce team payrolls.

        • arc89

          Why would you trade a #1 draft pick and 3 second just to get rid of Wiggins? Now that is just crazy.

        • You’re right the Pistons have cap room to absorb Wiggins money and the Warriors will be taking less cash back, but there’s no way the Warriors would do that one.

    • Sullivan, what’s going on tonight ? That has to be one of the worst ideas you come up with in the last 3-4 months. Wiggins for Snell? And throw in a pic? Not sure about this one buddy.

      What’s your fascination with Tony Snell? You’ve mentioned the Warriors trading for him a few times now . I mean he’s okay but you want to plug him in Warrior lineup as a big-time contributor?

  4. Strike Four

    If there’s a path to pairing the Splash Bros with Giannis and AD, Lacob will find it.

    Draymond to Lakers to play with his bff Bron.

    Just saying!!!

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      The Lakers are going to trade AD for Draymond. Pass the kutchie.

      • wagner13

        If we’re stuck in delusion land, how about Devin Booker to Memphis for Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen? That seems totally fair and realistic /s

        Dude, it’s fine to be a little biased. However, this is just straight up illogical

  5. Luke I love your analysis of the Warriors options with their first-round pick this year. Spot on brother.

    Same with your thoughts on the 17 million dollar traded player exception. I think you give us a accurate Glimpse at the Warriors situation and thinking.

    I think the bottom line is that they’ve set themselves up in the slight chance Giannis antetokounmpo is available. Taking ship Talent and pics unlike any other competitor. The reason I say that is because most other teams are unable to send 25 million-dollar player back to the bucks without disrupting the flow of their team. The Warriors can and will.

    Great stuff I can’t wait till draft night. This is almost as exciting as 1993 with Penny Hardaway Chris Webber and the huge Warriors Magic trade. I remember coming home from work ..I had the television on for the draft coverage, I had the radio on listening to the sports station draft coverage and all my newspapers laid out LOL.

  6. x%sure

    The $17mil TPE will not likely be used to its fullest extent, is what I read here and other sources. Here we find “five million” and “prudent”.
    If one wants to speculate, remember the rules, a TPE cannot be combined in a trade.

    • Yes exactly. Luke Points it out above as well and it makes a lot of sense to only use a part of it.

  7. KnickerbockerAl

    Been saying it for months. Warriors have plenty options. Personally I don’t believe Wiggins is here long term. But they get more for him at deadline. Now unless some big trade is worked out on draft night. Wiggins is here till he builds his value back up. All starts with Draft for Warriors. The TPE has to be used soon or it expires. You can look up date. It was extended cause of virus. Always thought Gordon was a better wing than Wiggins for this team chemistry. With Gordon they can draft Wiseman or Edwards, Toppin. All ready to help, strengthen their bench. Warriors could even trade down. Get Halliburton. Okoro, Okongwu, Vassell. All can help and grow with team. Plus get a player or another pick. They could go for young player like Turner. My point is they have options. But their priority is to establish a contender. They are a healthy team next yr. What they need is a big and a wing. They can get an Ibaka or Gasol. FA bigs who will ring chase. They also have their MLE for bench strength. Players would sign 2-3 yrs to chase ring. My fellow basketball fans. They have options. It all starts with draft. If they get top pick. Will they trade down. Or go after safe players like Toppin, Edwards. We should get a good idea about them. On who and they do with draft. And they will go over cap. Chasing rings, you pay the tax. Remember they are going to new arena. They will definitely try for strongest team they can get. They have OPTIONS.

Leave a Reply