The 2014 NBA Draft was one of those rare times when the Warriors briefly became one of the most boring teams in the NBA.
After an evening where fake laughter from the ESPN crew echoed off the walls of the Warriors practice gym, catered Mexican food left a lingering aroma that reminded the assembled media that nothing cures boredom like a taco bar, and no picks were made by Golden State (I’m pretty sure they’re still going by that name), Warriors general manager Bob Myers came out to address the media.
“We were prepared to do a lot of different things, but without a pick and without any money to spend, our options were somewhat limited. So, we did look at some different things, but ultimately we decided to stand pat,” said Myers.
So, that’s that. They had no picks going in, and as a result no players were added to the team. See ya in a week when free agency starts.
Hold on. Minnesota didn’t trade Kevin Love to anyone. Myers can’t discuss him, nor does he have much reason to provide any more information than what’s already out there. He also doesn’t want to portray the image that all the Warriors’ plans hinge on prying Love away from the T-Wolves. So, after perhaps the sleepiest draft night in franchise history, Myers described all the different ways they can make the team better.
“In relation to any trade, things are ongoing. If they weren’t, I’m not sure what I’d be doing because we lost in the first round. So we need to look at what we can do to make the team better. And that can be adding a bench player. That can be adding a couple free agents. That can be using our mid-level or our traded player exception,” said Myers.
The mid-level exception (MLE) gives the Warriors the opportunity to go above the salary cap and sign a free agent to a deal worth up to $5.3 million annually for up to four seasons. The traded player exception (TPE) is something the Warriors got in the deal that brought them Andre Iguodala: $9.8 million they can use to absorb a contract without sending back a player (or players) making close to the same annual salary in return.
If the Warriors plan on getting a backup point guard and/or some frontcourt depth, these are the tools they’ll use. And once NBA free agency starts on June 30 at 9 pm PST, Myers and the Warriors need to act fast — especially because their TPE expires on July 10. As a result, over the last few days they’ve spent more time planning for free agency, keeping an eye out for potential trades, and budgeting for the next two seasons than updating their 2014 draft board.
“If you look at what we have under the tax right now, you can say it’s between $11 and $12 million,” said Myers. “I’ve been given a mandate that we’re OK to go over the tax for the right reasons.”
“The right reasons” probably equates to a scenario where they don’t go far above the tax in 2014-15, and certainly not to the point where the Warriors are rubbing up against the tax in 2015-16. But don’t be surprised if they avoid that tax threshold like the plague in each of the next two seasons.
“I would say the threat of being a tax team looms larger (in 2015-16), because we’re not really re-signing any of our own players this offseason. We might, but the signings would not take us into the tax,” Myers said.
“All we do every day is model out different kinds of scenarios where we have this much money to spend, or we’ll be that much under the tax. Because it’s a lot of hypotheticals, you don’t entirely know. But if you don’t plan for it and you wake up and you all the sudden pay some big tax bill, your owner looks at you like, ‘What are you doing?'”
Of course, one of the players the Warriors might look at re-signing in the summer of 2015 is Klay Thompson.
“We think we’ve got a lot of high ceilings if you look at our roster. I guess as evidenced by (tonight’s) draft, which is one of those times when teams are most active, by standing pat it does show a faith in the current construction of our roster,” said Myers, who’s probably wracking his brain trying to figure out how to get Minnesota to part with Love without getting Thompson in return.
Even if Thompson is going to get a max salary or something close to it in the summer of 2015 (when he becomes a restricted free agent), he’s still an asset that can fetch quite a bit because he’s young, healthy and good. And just like Myers would get reamed if he tossed a big luxury tax bill in Lacob’s lap and said, “Here, VC guy. You deal with it,” he’d also be in hot water if he gave Flip Saunders whatever he asked for in return for Love at this stage.
Since the Warriors are one of the few teams Love said he’d be happy to sign an extension with, and the Warriors have a collection of players that probably beats what teams were offering the T-Wolves leading up to the draft, there’s no need to rush. Except, a trade for Love would change everything about their own free agency strategy, plus Love’s mind could change or another team that’s equally attractive to Minnesota’s All-Star power forward might decide to make a run at him.
“This climate and the pace of the way deals are made, things can change like that. Things can really get altered and you could be talking about something and then five seconds later it’s gone. Five seconds later, something (else) comes up,” said Myers.
So the Warriors are in the executive version of a three-point stance, ready to go on the offensive in a variety of ways. Unlike the lottery days, now that the draft is over the team’s offseason fun can begin. Whether that means acquiring Love or finding pieces through free agency and trade to complement the current cast of characters, we know one thing: boring has never lasted long under this ownership group.
“We’re pretty good at making your lives exciting, but we couldn’t do it for you tonight,” said Myers with a laugh.