The defending champion Golden State Warriors fell short of last year’s championship, with a loss to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference semifinals.

With four championship rings in the Stephen Curry era, Golden State may be facing the dawn of a new era this season with an aging core and a bloated payroll. Veteran fan favorites like Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are approaching the ends of their current deals, and the Warriors will have difficult decisions to make on how far they will go to preserve their core.

Offseason guides for every eliminated team

State of the roster

The Warriors have been here before. After they lost the 2019 Finals to the Toronto Raptors, they lost Kevin Durant to free agency and faced a season without Klay Thompson because of a torn ACL in his left knee. Two years later they lost twice in the play-in tournament, and questions turned to whether the dynasty in Golden State was over. The Warriors bounced back to win their fourth championship the next season. However, this offseason is different.

Draymond Green has a $27.6 million player option and could become a free agent. Thompson is entering the last year of his contract and is eligible for a long-term extension. The architect of the roster, general manager Bob Myers, has an expiring contract.

And, finally, the new collective bargaining agreement that starts July 1 places significant restrictions on how Golden State can improve the roster. If Green and Thompson are extended, the Warriors will continue to pay a significant luxury tax penalty in addition to the increased challenges in roster building (no midlevel exception, harder to make trades, etc.). There is also the question as to how much trust the coaching staff has in Jordan Poole. Signed to a four-year $123 million extension last October, Poole had an inconsistent regular season and struggled in the postseason.

Offseason finances

If the roster stays intact, including Green opting-in to his contract, the Warriors project to pay a combined $457 million in salary and tax penalties. That number will increase to $500 million once the roster is filled out in free agency. If Green and Donte DiVincenzo do not return, Golden State is still over the $179.5 million second apron and will not have access to the $5 million taxpayer midlevel exception.

Because of that, Golden State is not allowed to offer free agent JaMychal Green a contract exceeding $3.4 million and will have only the veteran minimum exception to sign free agents. The Warriors will also be restricted to taking back no more than 110% of salary in any trade. For example, the maximum salary allowed in return in a hypothetical Poole trade is $30.2 million (it was $34.3 million under the old CBA). Green and DiVincenzo have until June 29 to opt into their contracts.

Top front-office priority

It is naïve to think Green’s days with the Warriors are done. Yes, Green can decline his player option and enter free agency, but is there a team outside of Golden State willing to commit to a long-term lucrative contract? The teams with cap space include Detroit, Indiana, Houston, Oklahoma City, Orlando and San Antonio.

If there is not a safety net with one of those teams, the smart play would be for Green to opt into his contract for next season. After that happens, would Green sign a team-friendly extension for the third straight time? Would the Warriors even offer a long-term deal? Green, 33, ranks in the top 10 in total minutes played (including the playoffs) since the 2014-15 season.

The Warriors finished this season with a defensive rating of 109.6 with Green on the court and 115.3 when he was off. He held opponents to 39% shooting as the closest defender. That ranked second among players to contest at least 500 shots, trailing only Kevin Durant, according to Second Spectrum tracking. Green could also opt in and then ask to be traded, something Kyrie Irving did with the Brooklyn Nets this past season.

DiVincenzo has a $4.7 million player option. If he declines, the maximum that Golden State can offer in the first year of a new contract is $5.4 million. That is likely a nonstarter unless DiVincenzo signs a below-market contract to establish early Bird rights in 2024. This would allow the guard to sign up to a four-year contract with a starting salary of $12 million next summer.

Extension candidate to watch

Is there a compromise on an extension for Thompson? After missing the better part of 2½ seasons, Thompson played 69 games this year, posting the third-best scoring average of his career. While he shot over 40% from deep for the ninth time in 10 seasons, he shot under 60% on layups and dunks for the first time since 2014-15. His 47% shooting on 2-pointers was his worst in a season under Steve Kerr.

Thompson is eligible to sign a four-year, $220 million extension, but a contract that size is reckless considering that he would be set to earn $61 million in 2027-28, when he turns 37. Additionally, the Warriors have no players (including Stephen Curry), under contract past 2026-27. Curry has three years left on his deal.

Team Needs: Even with a team that ranked second in 3-point percentage, there is a need for frontcourt help that can stretch the floor. Green shot 30.5% from 3 and Kevon Looney did not attempt a long-distance shot. Reserve Anthony Lamb shot 36.7% but is a free agent.

Draft picks in June: No. 19

Future draft assets: The Warriors owe Memphis a 2024 top-4 protected first. The pick is top-1 protected in 2025 and unprotected in 2026. The earliest Golden State can trade a first is two years after the conditions to Memphis have been met. The Warriors have four future second-round picks available to use in a trade. If the Warriors are in the second apron in 2024-25, their 2032 first-round pick will become frozen and cannot be traded. Their 2032 first would also fall to the later part of the round if Golden State is in the second apron three-out-five seasons starting in 2024-25.

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