State of the Cap: Golden State Warriors
2008/09 Golden State Warriors Payroll: $46.7 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million (estimate)
Roughly: $11.3 million under cap
(includes $17.1 million for the player option on Baron Davis's contract)
During his first full season in Golden State, Stephen Jackson topped 20 points a game for the first time in his career. Jackson was one of three Warriors to do so, which is a credit to their high-octane offense. At $7.1 million for next season and $7.6 million after that, Jackson is a pretty good bargain for a 20 point scorer. He still has a problem with low shooting percentages and part of his increase in scoring can be attributed to bombing up a ridiculous amount of threes, but on a roster devoid of high value contracts, Jackson really stands out.
There is a lot to be unhappy about if you are a Golden State Warrior fan. Al Harrington is overpaid at $19.2 million over the next two years. His numbers this year (13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds) were very pedestrian for that kind of money and his field goal shooting was not impressive. Harrington is capable of much more and he needs his old, talented self to show up soon. Adonal Foyle's contract was finally bought out, but that doesn't mean the team is out of the woods yet. A portion of Foyle's contract will still be counted against the salary cap, $6.2 million to be exact. By not being on the team at all, Foyle will contribute nearly as much as he did in his previous seasons as a Warrior. At least they can put this terrible deal behind them next year.
There isn't much to evaluate when looking at the salary cap of the Golden State Warriors because they simply don't have many players under contract. Of the top eight guys in the Warrior's rotation, only three are signed for next season, and that includes the $17.1 million player option for Baron Davis. To make matters worse, a rift between Davis and coach Don Nelson, combined with the team's failure to make the playoffs, has forced Davis to consider opting out of his deal. He is only 29 years old and he played in all 82 games for the first time in many years. Davis also put up nice numbers, scoring 21.8 points to go with 7.6 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game. Golden State needs him if they have any hope of a playoff berth next season.
However, Davis isn't the team's only problem. They have a host of good, young free agents to sign. Monta Ellis played so well this year, he might see his salary jump from six figures to eight. Ellis had a phenomenal season. He put up 20.2 points on 53% shooting, which is amazing for a guard. He hardly ever shoots threes, using his quickness instead to get in the lane and finish around the hoop. Ellis also added a respectable 5 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He is a restricted free agent, and it's imperative the Warriors stay young, and resign the budding superstar. Although, a team might not offer Ellis as much as he wants, which means he could take a one-year tender and try again next summer as an unrestricted free agent. How the team handles Ellis might determine how the Baron Davis situation plays out, and vice versa. If Davis leaves, they can afford to keep Ellis long-term. But if Ellis is let go, Davis might not want to stay on a team that can't contend. It's a tough spot for the Warriors to be in.
The free agents don't stop there. Andris Biedrins is in the same boat as Ellis; a restricted free-agent who might not get what he wants and could simply take the qualifying offer. It would be great for the Warriors for next season, though they would risk losing both players as unrestricted free agents the following summer. Biedrins is an ugly free-throw shooter, but he is an improving young center. He averaged 10.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. He also doesn't take bad shots as he led the league in field goal shooting at 62.6%. The Warriors may play small ball, but you do need some size once in a while and Biedrins is the only real big man they have. The team really needs him back.
Kelenna Azubuike, Mickael Pietrus, and Matt Barnes all contributed well and they are also without contracts. Don Nelson recently promised more playing time to youngsters Marco Belinelli and Brandon Wright, so where will Golden State go from here? They did win 48 games, but that isn't good enough in the Western Conference. Can the same cast of characters really go that deep into the playoffs or did they peak in their amazing upset of Dallas? With some good, young talent already on the roster and no terrible, long-term contracts to speak of, it might be a good time to usher Baron Davis out of town and start fresh. The Warriors don't necessarily need to rebuild, they just need to reboot.
Golden State really ran into some bad luck this season. 48 wins and no playoff berth? That is crazy. Heck, Portland was a .500 team and they finished 9 games out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, three teams .500 or worse made the playoffs in the East. I don't know about you but if I was a free-agent on a Western Conference team, I would be doing everything in my power to find a new address on the other side of the Mississippi.
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