Summer agenda: Warriors' next big challenge? Free agency

Bobby Marks
The Vertical

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, looks at the possible offseason plans and roster details for every team in the league.

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GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

Offseason focus

The impact of Kevin Durant

The top free agent on the market once again has a decision to make.

No, Kevin Durant will not visit other teams like he did last summer, but the Finals MVP’s contract situation will become magnified on July 1.

Durant, a lock to remain with Golden State for the foreseeable future, has two directions after opting out of his $27.7 million contract for 2017-18 on Monday.

Non-Bird rights: Because Durant has played with Golden State for only one season, he is restricted to signing a contract worth 120 percent of his $26.5 million salary from 2016-17.

Durant could sign a one-year contract (player option for the second year) at a salary of $31.8 million.

This option would cost Durant $3.5 million in the first year, but would give the Warriors flexibility to sign free agents Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston because cap space would not be needed to sign the three players.

Iguodala and Livingston have Bird rights and the Warriors can exceed the cap to sign them.

Cap space: Golden State would be in the same position as last summer if Durant elects to sign a max contract starting at $35.3 million.

Signing with cap space protects Durant from a future injury that could impact his future financial earnings.

The scenario that unfolded last offseason, with Golden State trading center Andrew Bogut and letting go restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to clear room to sign Durant, would now come at the expense of Iguodala and Livingston.

In addition, the Warriors would have to renounce all their free agents except for Ian Clark and Zaza Pachulia.

Clark has early Bird rights and the Warriors can exceed the cap to sign him to a contract starting at $7.7 million.

Golden State once again would have to rebuild its bench with the $4.3 million room mid-level exception and minimum exception.

The financials: Durant’s four-year max contract would be worth $152 million.

2017-18                      $35.3 million
2018-19                      $37.1 million
2019-20                      $38.8 million
2020-21                      $40.6 million
Total                            $152 million

While the value is quite impressive, it does not maximize Durant’s future earnings.

He would be best served by signing a one-year contract in 2017 and a four-year deal in 2018 with early Bird rights.

2017-18                     $31.8 million*
2018-19                     $35.7 million **
2019-20                     $38.6 million
2020-21                     $41.4 million
2021-22                      $44.3 million
Total                            $192 million

*One-year contract signed with non-Bird rights
**Four-year contract signed with early Bird rights

Durant could also sign one-year contracts in 2017 and ’18 and then sign a five-year max contract in 2019.

However, despite the financial gains, a player with a serious injury in his past signing consecutive one-year contracts is risky.

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry will be back with the Warriors. (AP)

The Steph Curry deal

Durant’s decision has an impact when it comes to the timing of Steph Curry’s new contract.

If Durant decides to sign with cap space, Golden State – in order to have enough room – will need to leave Curry’s $18 million free-agent hold against the cap.

Signing Curry to his projected $35.3 million salary first would eliminate the cap space to sign Durant to a max contract.

If Durant signs with non-Bird rights ($31.8m), the timing of the Curry contract becomes a non-factor.

Because Curry has Bird rights, Golden State can exceed the cap to bring him back. Curry is eligible for the Designated Player Veteran Contract and can sign a five-year, $205 million deal.

Building the bench

No team did more with less in putting together its bench than Golden State.

Now general manager Bob Myers will be faced with a similar task with seven reserves and starter Zaza Pachulia set to become free agents.

Because of salary-cap restrictions and Durant’s pending free-agent decision, each free agent comes with a challenge to retain.

Golden State has the $5.2 tax mid-level exception to use along with various cap exceptions as we look at the situations for the team’s free agents outside of Curry and Durant.

Pachulia: Signed to a one-year contract last summer, Pachulia has non-Bird rights. The Warriors can sign him for a contract that would start at $3.5 million or use their $5.2 million tax mid-level exception.

Iguodala and Livingston: They have Bird rights, allowing the Warriors to exceed the salary cap to sign them. Durant’s free agency will dictate whether Golden State has the flexibility to bring back their top two bench players. Both rank in the top 10 at their respective positions in this free-agent class.

Ian Clark: He has early Bird rights and Golden State will be faced with cap restrictions to bring him back. The maximum offer Clark could receive from the Warriors is a contract that starts at $7.7 million with a minimum of two seasons. The starting salary for Clark represents the estimated average player salary multiplied by 105 percent.

Matt Barnes and David West: The veterans have non-Bird rights and can sign contracts for 120 percent of their minimum salary slots. With the rise in the new minimum-salary scale under the new CBA, both players could receive a starting salary of $2.8 million – a $1 million increase from the 2011 CBA minimum-salary scale.

James McAdoo: Golden State can elect to make McAdoo a restricted free agent heading into the offseason. He will have three years of service when free agency begins, allowing the Warriors to tender him a $1.7 million qualifying offer. Not tendering an offer means McAdoo will become an unrestricted free agent. McAdoo also has early Bird rights.

JaVale McGee: The Warriors’ top big off the bench, McGee has non-Bird rights. Golden State can offer him a starting contract of $2.5 million or use the $5.2 million tax mid-level exception.

Shaun Livingston is a crucial piece of the Warriors’ bench. (AP)

Summer cap breakdown

Guaranteed                            2017-18                              Insider info
Klay Thompson                   $17,826,150
Draymond Green                $16,400,000
Kevon Looney                      $1,471,382
Patrick McCaw                      $1,312,611
Damian Jones                       $1,312,611

FA cap hold                             2017-18                              FA status
Kevin Durant                         $31,848,120                           Non-Bird
Stephen Curry                       $18,168,539                    Bird/DPVC eligible
Andre Iguodala                     $16,697,052                               Bird
Shaun Livingston                  $10,986,655                               Bird
Zaza Pachulia                         $3,477,600                           Non-Bird
James McAdoo                       $1,724,305                  Restricted/early Bird
David West                              $1,471,382                           Non-Bird
Ian Clark                                  $1,471,382                           Early Bird
Matt Barnes                            $1,471,382                            Non-Bird
JaVale McGee                         $1,471,382                            Non-Bird

Dead cap space                      2017-18
Jason Thompson                     $945,126

Salary table                                2017
Guaranteed salaries              $38,322,754
Dead money                            $945,126
FA cap holds                         $88,787,799
Salaries: cap                        $128,055,679
Salaries: tax                          $39,267,880
Salary cap                            $101,000,000
Luxury tax                            $121,000,000
Cap space                    None ($27,055,679 over)
Tax room                                $81,732,120

Projected cap space

Even with five players under contract and $38.3 million in guaranteed contracts, Golden State is still over the salary cap.

With 10 free agents comprising $88.8 million in free-agent holds, the Warriors will focus on retaining their own players.

Golden State will likely have the $5.2 million tax mid-level exception to use.

June draft picks

Golden State will send Utah its first-round pick; the Hawks have the Warriors’ second-round pick.

Future draft picks

The Warriors own their future first-round picks.

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