Responses were varied but one Los Angeles athlete feels confident LeBron will NOT be coming to his city next season.
USA TODAY Sports
There’s a certain gravity that comes with greatness.
In sports and otherwise, the elite have a special way of attracting the attention and admiration of others. The same goes for the Golden State Warriors, who won a third title in four years earlier this month and now find themselves with a chance to make the most of their magnetism in free agency – again.
With the official business set to tip off at midnight Eastern, here’s how …
It’s been nearly two years since Kevin Durant was the one being pulled in by Golden State’s gravitational force, and he isn’t about to leave now. Durant intends on signing a two-year max deal with the Warriors with a player option for the second year, which would put the Warriors in prime position to bolster their bench because of the luxury tax savings that would result.
Durant gave back nearly $10 million last summer, which helped the Warriors hold on to Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. With this expected one-plus-one deal, Durant’s salary for next season will be $30 million (as opposed to the $35.3 million it would have been on a four-year deal).
That $5.3 million makes a massive difference when it comes to overall cost. The Warriors are projected to be paying an extra $3.25-per-dollar tax by the time they’re making decisions about the supporting cast. As such, a player who was given their entire taxpayer mid-level exception of $5.3 million would actually cost $22.5 million. A minimum salary addition of $2.3 million, by comparison, would cost approximately $7.1 million (the NBA only taxes approximately $1.5 million on minimum deals).
All of this matters, of course, because there are some compelling candidates on the Warriors’ radar. But after a season in which players like Nick Young and Omri Casspi didn’t pay off as they’d hoped, it remains to be seen if owner Joe Lacob and his group are willing to pay big for periphery pieces.
Eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard, who has yet to complete an expected buyout with Brooklyn, has serious interest in joining the Warriors. But there remains skepticism within the Warriors’ walls about whether he would be a good fit, with Howard also known to be interested in joining LeBron James (wherever he winds up), New Orleans and Washington.
Considering coach Steve Kerr just secured a three-year extension that reportedly brought his salary to eight-figure territory annually, it’s safe to assume he’ll have a significant voice here. And if Howard could find a way to allay the concerns about chemistry, this could give Golden State the kind of rim protector they need — especially considering JaVale McGee is also a free agent and may not return.
If Houston small forward Trevor Ariza can’t find a big-time payday with the Rockets or anyone else, the prospect of joining the Warriors on a one-year deal is known to be of interest. Golden State has also discussed Avery Bradley as an option, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen the eight-year veteran hound the Warriors’ scorers these past few years. Bradley’s season was cut short by abdominal surgery in March, and he played just 46 games for Detroit and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Former Warriors guard and three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford has serious interest in joining the Warriors, too, and is well aware that it would require a financial sacrifice to take part. The Warriors have interest in Crawford as well, but it appears a minimum salary slot would be the only way to make this happen.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick on Twitter @Sam_Amick