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Warriors $375 million plan to keep core together

Vincent Frank
Klay Thompson Kevin Durant
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in all the hoopla surrounding free agency is the fact that the Golden State Warriors are dealing with financial ramifications that no other North American pro sports team has ever seen.

Regardless of what happens with Kevin Durant, the five-time defending Western Conference champs will be in the luxury tax once again this coming season. That’s dependent on whether Klay Thomson re-signs, which seems to be a foregone conclusion.

In addition to Thompson and Durant, prized young center Kevon Looney is slated to become a free agent after a breakout 2018-19 campaign.

What does this all mean from a financial perspective? If Golden State were to re-sign all three, it would be looking at a record $375 million payroll next season. That includes a luxury tax of $200 million, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst.

Thompson’s max deal would come in at $190 million over five seasons. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ offer to Durant on Sunday will be for $220 million over five seasons. It’s $57 million more than any other team can offer KD, including $50 million for a fifth season that no one else can offer.

As it relates to Looney, he’s looking at $12-plus million annually. As a repeat offender of the luxury tax, these numbers take on completely new meanings.

For example, a looming Draymond Green extension coupled with these three moves would place Golden State’s total payroll, luxury tax included, at $1.6 billion over the next four seasons.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers has indicated that Golden State is operating without a budget. That’s fine and dandy.

But there are issues here. That’s especially true when we take into account that Golden State’s current ownership group paid $450 million for the franchise less than a decade ago.

The good news? San Francisco’s new Chase Center is expected to bring in north of $200 million in revenue on an annual basis. Meanwhile, Golden State is now the NBA’s highest-revenue team at north of $400 million.

None of this takes into account the possibility that these Warriors will be facing a $375 million payroll with Durant sidelined for the entire 2019-20 season and Thompson likely sitting out for a majority of it.

That’s a major backdrop heading into free agency.