Consider the 2016-2017 NBA season lost even before it tips off in late October; for all the absurd happenings on the transfer market, either reigning champions Cleveland Cavaliers and finalists Golden State Warriors will emerge champions. After calling the just ended season correctly by predicting Warriors’ failure to retain their title prior to the just ended season, all indications point to Cleveland and Oakland hosting games in June for the third straight time.
Free agent Kevin Durant’s move from Oklahoma City Thunder to the Warriors irked just about everyone in the league as his move crippled the chances of Oklahoma as a contender and more importantly, created a team built to win multiple championships.
Getting Durant alongside two time NBA Most Valuable Player of the Year Steph Curry and All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, gives the Warriors a new look super team that features four of the best 15 players in the NBA. In times past, super teams had three excellent players atop the roster just the way it was when LeBron James teamed up with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade at the Miami Heat in 2010.
Same way Dennis Rodman joined Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen at the Chicago Bulls in 1996, and James did (once again) when he rejoined Cleveland who had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. This system has proved to be a sure fire way to win a championship and that is perhaps the ultimate reason behind Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma. Building a “Big Three” system proved the right mix in the league which capped salaries well below what the league operates with now.
The salary cap’s jump from 70 million dollars to 90 million dollars in the offseason has been the main reason behind exorbitant spending on players from teams cue Portland Trailblazers four year 106 million dollars. Golden State profited from the spike in cash flow by signing Kevin Durant to a two year 54 million dollar contract with the second year being a player option to an already stacked payroll. However, this all could change in the future as the salary cap, which has been on the rise since 2011, begins to fall back to earth. That wouldn’t be a problem for the 2017-2018 season as the cap hits 102 million dollars but it surely will be when it starts to drop off.
In the near future deals signed, exorbitant deals at that, will be difficult to manage on a roster along with other substantial deals. The Warriors top hierarchy will pay Steph Curry and Durant (who most definitely will opt out of his deal and sign another for more money) massive deals beginning at 30 million in the first year alone. Coupled with a combined 30 extra million for Green and Thompson, Golden State will have a hard time fixing all the salaries a 90 million dollar cap space which makes it near impossible to keep all four players on the team in the near future. Meaning either Green or Thompson has to go or Durant leave town for the team to avoid huge financial punishment for going over the cap. After the pump and glitzy manner they have operated in the past two years, moving from darlings to villains of the league, management will be wise to keep Durant and Curry but same cannot be said for Draymond and Klay.
Both guys are preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with Team USA for a third straight win in the basketball event. However, Green’s off and on court shenanigans aren’t making the decision tougher than it actually should. In light of kicking Steven Adams in the groin and doing same with his arm, to a lesser degree that time to LeBron James, he was involved in a public altercation and posted what ought to be a private video on Snap chat. His versatility and work rate can counter any differing argument but the calm Thompson isn’t a free loader riding on a transcendent wave Coach Steve Kerr set in motion two seasons ago.
His sniper like skills and tenacious defense make him a tough customer on any opponent in the league. Swingman Andre Iguodala on the other hand, becomes a free agent after this season but unlike Steph, he will be on his way out of Oakland should he desire a much valuable contract than what the team offers. Conversely, losing two key pieces of the Warriors versatile small lineup will be death onto the team but retaining Iguodala and letting Thompson or Green walk plugs a lot of holes for Golden State. Either way,the team will never be as good as it will be in a couple of years.
The frenzied days are not over but they surely wouldn’t last long either and teams getting super by the day should be wary of what lies ahead in the so distant future.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah