The Golden State Warriors have two potential franchise cornerstones in Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. But for how much longer? With the Warriors set to begin their post All-Star Break schedule, this is a major backdrop.
Warriors ownership has been paying into the NBA’s luxury tax since their recently-ended dynasty started all the way back in 2014-15. Led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, said ownership group has always concluded finances won’t be an issue.
Unfortunately, it now seems inevitable with aging stars such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green playing under max contracts.
The situation involving Pool and Wiggins complicates things further. In the midst of a breakout season, Poole will hit restricted free agency following the 2022-23 season. Meanwhile, first-time All-Star Andrew Wiggins will be an unrestricted free agent the same summer that Poole hits the restricted market.
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Given his performance this season, Wiggins will likely demand a max-contract offer either this summer or in 2023. Said contract will come in at roughly $37 million annually.
According to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, Golden State will also look to extend Jordan Poole this coming summer. Said deal is not going to come in cheap.
“The Warriors also will try to sign Poole to a multiyear extension this summer, which would allow them to avoid having to deal with him in restricted free agency in 2023. Keith Smith, a salary-cap expert for Spotrac, estimates that deal to be in the four-year, $80 million range.”Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle
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How Jordan Poole contract extension could impact Andrew Wiggins’ future with the Golden State Warriors
It’s all about the finances here. Let’s just look at Golden State’s cap situation in 2023-24 with Poole’s hypothetical extension figured in.
- Stephen Curry: $51.92 million
- Klay Thompson: $43.22 million
- Draymond Green: $27.59 million
- Jordan Poole: $20 million
That’s north of $142 million in salary commitments to just four players. To put this into perspective, the 2022-23 NBA salary cap is projected to be $121 million with a luxury tax number of $147 million.
Assuming that the NBA’s cap sees a typical 8% increase in 2023-24, that would put the number at $127 million or so. That’s where this gets especially difficult for Golden State to retain Wiggins long-term if it extends Pool. Keeping both would result in an estimated $182 million commitment to five players — $55 million or so over the cap and $29 million over the tax.
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Golden State Warriors are happy with Andrew Wiggins
To say that general manager Bob Myers and Golden State won the Wiggins trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves back in February of 2020 would be an understatement. In addition to acquiring Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell, the Warriors ultimately landed stud young forward Jonathan Kuminga with one of the picks they received from Minnesota.
Thus far this season, Wiggins has proven skeptics wrong en route to starting the NBA All-Star Game.
- Andrew Wiggins stats (2021-22): 17.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 48% shooting, 41% three point, 56% effective field goal
All things equal, Golden State would love to retain Wiggins long-term and for him to act as a franchise cornerstone with both Pool and Kuminga once the current trio retires. Remember, he’s still only 27 years old and is just now in his prime.
Unfortunately, the finances are going to make this hard to navigate. What does that mean?
Golden State Warriors’ options with Andrew Wiggins
At 42-17 on the season, Golden State is back to top-end NBA championship contention. It has Klay Thompson at 100% after he missed the past two seasons to injury. Draymond Green (back) is set to return from injury within the next few weeks. Stephen Curry has not slowed down. Wiggins himself is in the midst of a career-best season. Poole looks to be a star in the making.
- Jordan Poole stats (2021-22): 16.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 44% shooting, 34% three point, 92% free throw
At just 22, Poole is nowhere near close to hitting his ceiling. The same thing can be said about 19-year-old rookie Jonathan Kuminga. He’s been exceptional with Green sidelined.
- Jonathan Kuminga stats (past eight games): 15.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 60% shooting
Poole’s ascension and Kuminga’s status as a potential franchise cornerstone moving forward also clouds Wiggins’ status in San Francisco.
In particular, Kuminga’s rookie contract could end up leading to Golden State pulling the trigger and shockingly moving Wiggins as early as this summer.
Jonathan Kuminga cap hits by season
- 2022-23: $5.74 million
- 2023-24: $6.01 million
- 2014-25: $7.64 million
No one could have envisioned a raw Kuminga already being part of the rotation for a championship contender. Alas, that’s where he’s at with the Golden State Warriors.
It could lead to Wiggins’ departure from the Warriors much sooner than anyone anticipated. This season, the forward’s win shares ranks among the top-50 players in the NBA. Here’s a look at who Wiggins compares to.
- Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers: 4.7
- James Harden, Brooklyn Nets: 4.6
- LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets: 4.6
- Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers: 4.6
Given what we’ve seen from the former No. 1 pick this season, his trade value would be at an all-time high.
With Golden State boasting all of its draft capital moving forward and given Wiggins’ $31.58 million salary for 2022-23, there’s a reason to believe he could be used as part of a package to land a disgruntled star from another team.
While the finances would be similar to extending both Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins this coming summer, the presence of Kuminga could very well lead to the Golden State Warriors’ brass moving in another direction. It’s that simple.