When the Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant in the offseason, it wasn’t a short term move. It was an attempt to position re-signing both him and Stephen Curry in 2017, creating a duo to rule the NBA for years. But changes in the CBA could mean it’ll be impossible to make that happen.
Why would this happen? Because the next CBA could make holding on to a team’s max players more difficult, or at least more expensive. The Warriors have a number of free agents to worry about in 2017, including Andre Iguodala, but Durant and Curry come first, obviously. Making $12.1 million this season, Curry is one of the most underpaid players in the NBA, considering he’s a two-time MVP. According to the current CBA, he’ll make $29 million next season. Kevin Durant signed a 1+1 deal, making $26.5 million this season, but will be making more than $33 million in the first year of his next contract.
The problem isn’t the salary, but the cap hit. Even before changes to the CBA, the Warriors don’t have Durant’s bird-rights, which means they need to sign him without breaching the cap. Current projections for the salary cap being $103 million could mean Durant’s first-year salary would be $33.9 million. So either he leaves a bit of money on the table, or the Warriors need to find a way to make room for him, which wouldn’t be easy.
Under the current CBA, Curry would count 150% of his current salary against the cap once he signs the new deal, which means just over $18 million. However, there could be a rule placed that takes the cap hit from 150% to 300%, which means a $36.3 million cap hit on his next deal, and that’s before another rule that the Warriors find troubling falls into place. A cap hold can’t exceed a player’s maximum salary, with the max for a nine-year player like Curry next season being $29 million. However, the max tiers might be different under the next CBA.
Right now a 10-year veteran can make 35% of the salary cap, but it seems that the league will agree with the NBPA to lower the years required to get 35% of the max. Assuming nine-year players would make 35% of the max as well, Curry will be able to make $33.9 million just like Durant, and carry the same kind of cap hit too. Minimum salaries are going up, and it’s going to be impossible to carry 13-player rosters anymore. Teams will have to be with the full 15, and anyone carrying less is charged with a cap hit, which right now is just over $500,000.
Nothing here is set in stone. The 300% could be for players coming off a rookie deal and not someone on his second big extension like Curry. But considering the Warriors don’t have too many players on the salary cap for next season (Thompson and Green are, which makes things simpler) and they can’t build a team to win a championship with just Curry-Durant-Thompson-Green and minimum wage players around them, they need to hope the CBA rumors aren’t true. Or perhaps if they are, trying to convince their two biggest stars to leave some money on the table could be the key to maintaining the best roster in the NBA.