With the Warriors playing better basketball since Draymond Green‘s return from suspension last month, the organization decided ahead of this season’s trade deadline that it didn’t want to take a step backward by essentially selling off a veteran or two, even if it resulted in a significant financial windfall, team owner Joe Lacob said during an appearance on Tim Kawakami’s podcast at The Athletic.
However, Lacob acknowledged that keeping the Warriors’ payroll as high as it’s been for the last several seasons (relative to the luxury tax line) probably isn’t practical going forward, especially with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement introducing punitive roster-building restrictions for teams above the tax aprons.
“Our Plan 1, or 1A, is actually we’d like to be out of the tax, and we think that we have a way to do that,” Lacob told Kawakami. “That kind of is the plan, not just under the second apron. I’ll tell you why that’s important, because the truth is that we need to be out of the tax two years out of the next four, below the tax line, in order to get this repeater thing off our books. We don’t want to be a repeater. It’s just so prohibitive, not to say we wouldn’t do it if we had to, but you’ve gotta look at what the downside is to doing that.
“… There’s a Plan 1B, I guess, and 1B is we could go even further than that and we could make big changes if we had to. If this team were to slide all the way down and not do well the end of the year here, you know there’s gonna be big changes. But if we do really well, we might decide to go the other way. So everything’s open, we have to be flexible, I can just tell you that the goal is to not be a lottery team ever. The goal is to be competitive, the goal is to win and ideally, if it’s possible, to win championships or compete for championships.”
The Warriors have approximately $73MM coming off their books this summer in Klay Thompson‘s and Chris Paul‘s expiring contracts alone. Negotiating a new deal for Thompson would cut into that total, but there’s a path for Golden State to operate below the tax line, which is projected to be around $171MM in 2024/25.
Lacob discussed several more topics of note during his conversation with Kawakami, including his relationship with Green and his expectations for this year’s team. The podcast – or Kawakami’s round-up – is worth checking out in full if you’re a Warriors fan, but here are a few highlights from the discussion:
“We’re always going to try to be aggressive. … And we’re going to look at everything. When we acquired Kevin Durant many years ago, that was an incredibly aggressive move that we made, where I think half our roster went away to accomplish that. Even though we had a really good team, we felt we could be better, and we did.
“There are these inflection points, these times when sometimes players might be available. Even if it’s not something you maybe have considered, you need to consider it. My answer to your question is I’m always looking, we’re always looking at everything. I always tell (Warriors executives) Mike (Dunleavy Jr.) and Kirk (Lacob) and everybody, nothing is off the table, nothing. So we look at everything, and if the deal’s right, the timing’s right and we have consensus generally inside, then we’ve got to consider this thing.
“As far as the reports … I’m not going to say anything about any specific player or anything. I’m just going to tell you that, you know, we’re aggressive and we’re looking at things all the time.”
On head coach Steve Kerr’s expiring contract:
“I think we will work out a deal with him. He’s a very fair human being. We’ve never underpaid people. We always pay people well. We’re fair. We have to do what’s good overall for business, obviously. … I think he does want to stay coaching the team in the future. And we want him here, to be very clear. We think he’s a great coach. … I think we’ll have a contract done with Steve pretty soon. … I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I don’t think anybody else is going to have Steve Kerr as their coach.”
“I know there’s been a lot of concerns. ‘Why wasn’t JK playing more, did our coaching staff hold him back?’ Look, we can debate all that. But if you look at the bigger picture, he’s 21 years old. He did not play college basketball. And year three historically is the year when players kinda take off or don’t … very rarely in their rookie year can a rookie make an impact, especially on a good team.
“… I think JK has had a tough go of it, Steve has been tough on him, but maybe at the end of the day, he winds up being a much better player and maybe Steve in the long term looks smart. I mean, that’s a possibility. It certainly could be. I think it’s year three, I think he’s taken off, we needed him, it turned out, the opportunity just happened to be right there, and he has fully jumped through the window and taken advantage of it.”
On Thompson’s up-and-down season and his contract situation:
“Honestly, I love him like a son is the way I feel about that. … He’s had a really tough time. He’s had some severe injuries, he played really well coming back from that until the playoffs last year, obviously wasn’t his brightest moment. And he’s had an up-and-down year this year. … But at the end of the day, I believe in Klay, I think he’s a very impactful player, and I think he’s going to come through for us in the clutch if we make another run here. I stand behind Klay Thompson, too. I know his contract’s expiring … that’s a flexibility-of-a-team thing. … I’d like to have him retire as a Warrior, that’s the bottom line.”