Friday, July 1, 2016

Roster Analysis: How the Warriors could sign Kevin Durant

Let me preface this by saying that I am a fan of the Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant has also been my favorite player since I first saw his smooth stroke at the University of Texas. I normally try to remain rational and accountable in my writing, but with all that being said, OH MY GOODNESS KD PLAYING IN THE BAY IS POSSIBLE.

When a WojBomb was dropped five months ago that the Dubs intrigued Durant, I contained my reaction since it didn't seem right or realistic to think about scrapping a team that was the defending champions and in the midst of pursuing the single season wins record. That didn't stop me from reading Danny Leroux's enlightened piece on how the pieces could fit under the salary cap a couple hundred times or constantly tinkering with my own spreadsheets, though. The salary cap estimate going up to $94 million helps things a bit, and now that Cleveland beat them in a stunning Finals, it seems much more plausible that a star like Durant would consider joining an elite team as a missing piece to put them back over the top instead of ring-chasing with the back to back champs. It was one of the first things to go through my mind after Game 7, and after their meeting went very well today (as all of these meetings do), I figured I might as well put together a post about it instead of a tweet here or there, especially now that Shaun Livingston's guarantee date and the deadline to extend qualifying offers to James Michael McAdoo, someone whose cap hold is small enough that I thought could be kept, and Ian Clark have passed.

Golden State did extend qualifying offers to Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to allow themselves the opportunity to match any contract, and along with cap holds for their other free agents, they're nowhere near the amount of cap space needed to sign KD to his maximum salary possible as of now. However, with the right timing and execution, here's how they can fit him under the projected salary cap if he agrees to come. The biggest challenge would be moving the incumbent big man, Andrew Bogut, without taking any salary back, but with so many teams having money to spend due to the cap spike, they should be able to find someone to take on the still productive 31 year old with only about $11 million owed to him in the last year of his deal. Then they'd have to withdraw the qualifying offers to their restricted free agents, renounce the rights to nearly all of their others, and leave their first round pick, Damian Jones, unsigned for now to keep his cap hold lower than the deal he'll actually sign for. I think any idea of Andre Iguodala being traded to clear room should be dismissed given what he means to the team with his unselfishness and the fact that Durant became buddies with him and Stephen Curry on the 2010 Team USA roster. There hasn't been any indication as to whether Brandon Rush would be a bench player they intend to keep, but his cap hold is so low that they could hold onto his Early Bird rights and still clear the necessary space, as shown to the right.

Then once Durant signs, one of those empty roster chargers could be filled by Patrick McCaw, the second round prospect they shrewdly acquired purely with cash, one of the benefits of receiving so many playoff gate receipts lately. I'm going to list him at just the $543,471 rookie minimum here, but you'll notice that there would still be close to $700K of cap space remaining at this point (depending on where the salary cap actually falls), an insignificant amount to sign anyone else at this juncture. If the Warriors view McCaw as a potential rotation player in a couple of years, they'd be smart to use this remaining space to give him a bit more upfront money guaranteed in order to secure a 3 or 4 year contract instead of just signing him with the Minimum Exception that maxes out at 2 years, like they did when using part of the Mid-Level exception to give Draymond Green 3 years, $2,640,743 in 2012.