And so the inevitable has happened. The Warriors have signed both Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins to contract extensions just shy of a combined $250 million, keeping them in the fold through 2027. As predictable as the weekend news may have been, the consequences remain no less eye-popping; the defending champions’ payroll for the 2023-24 season figures to come close to hitting half a billion dollars as a result. For all the positive on-court effects of the development, and notwithstanding the deep pockets of owner Joe Lacob, the numbers are so staggering as to be unsustainable.
Getting Poole and Wiggins to commit early on was a no-brainer for the Warriors. They represent the future, and ensure no small measure of competitiveness in the medium term. And, make no mistake, it likewise helps them as they prepare to keep the hardware in their mantel. For the two, there would be no lingering distractions related to salary. The development figures to make the vital cogs fully motivated for the 2022-23 campaign — made more important in light of the depth of the field.
To be sure, the same questions can be asked of Draymond Green, whose own desire to seek a maximum deal could keep his eyes off the ultimate goal. Even as he has admitted that talks on an extension likely won’t get under way anytime soon, there can be no going around the fact that his teammates will be getting checks with figures closer to his own. And for one whose engine runs on emotional fuel, the possible repercussions run the gamut. Connected or not to disparate contract situations, the altercation he had with Poole the other week underscores, at the very least, his capacity to be a double-edged sword.
Green has a player option for the 2023-24 season, but it’s not clear if he intends to exercise it. Were pundits compelled to predict his choice today, they would likely point to his departure. The staggering repeater tax bills put the Warriors in a bind; at most, they can choose between him and Splash Brother Klay Thompson, whose own free agency looms. And because his skill set is predicted to erode more over time, his worth as a volatile 32-year-old veteran vis-a-vis that of a generational shooter pales in comparison.
The silver lining, if at all, is that the Warriors do not need to act on Green’s predicament just yet. A lot of things can happen in a year, and that’s not even taking into consideration Thompson’s injury history. Which is why they’re right to focus on the here and now, and why the signing of Poole and Wiggins cannot but be deemed a step forward.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.