How Warriors' finances might impact their 2020 first-round draft pick


Warriors general manager Bob Myers recently said that the team will "consider" trading its top-five pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.

Of course he did. He wouldn't be doing his job if that wasn't the case.

Obviously, though, considering trading the pick does not necessarily mean that Golden State will. There are a variety of factors to consider, none of which have been made any simpler by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Potential salaries, championship windows and roster construction must all be taken into account.

The financial component is real. The league and each of its 30 teams inevitably will experience a significant drop in revenue due to the ongoing pandemic. ESPN's Brian Windhorst believes that will compel the Warriors to not only hold onto their first-round pick, but also consider altering previously-laid plans.

"The Warriors' whole planning and future has been exploded by this situation," Windhorst said Tuesday on "The Jump." "They have a $140 million-plus payroll for next year, and their cash cow arena that was going to pay for it is shut down. I'm not sure they can afford to trade [the pick], and I'm not sure that if they do make a trade that it's not going to be to reduce salary. 

"Everybody's talked about Andre Iguodala, that trade exception they have -- I don't know if they're going to be able to afford to use it, because this is going to be such a strain on their planning. They went from light years ahead to on their heads because of this unexpected turn of events."

Not being able to use the $17.2 million trade exception obviously would be a huge blow to the Warriors. That, along with their own 2020 first-round pick and the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2021 first-round pick, undoubtedly are their top-three non-player assets. Were Golden State to acquire an expensive veteran this offseason, it was fully expected the trade exception would somehow have been involved in that transaction. Eliminating it due to financial constraints would make Myers' attempt at an expedited turnaround that much more challenging.

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It's worth noting, though, that Warriors chairman Joe Lacob rarely has let expenses get in the way of acquiring premier talent, and while Chase Center won't produce anywhere near the revenue originally expected for its first year in existence, it will remain a "cash cow" for decades to come. Golden State must be fiscally responsible, but the long-term financial outlook is far rosier than the immediate. Lacob, Myers and Co. know their championship window is ongoing, and that surely will be factored into their offseason decisions.

Speaking of that championship window, Kendrick Perkins completely ignored it in his argument for why the Warriors should keep their first-round pick. That shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise, considering every word out of Perkins' mouth is an insult to anyone who has dedicated themselves to a career in sports media.

"I mean, come on Bob," Perkins said. "My thing is, look, you built a dynasty on drafting players. You drafted Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Steph Curry, and you won championships through the draft. Don't change what you've done that got you success. You gotta keep on. Don't change up the blueprint."

Perkins actually is correct -- shocking, I know. It's true, the Warriors' dynasty was built on homegrown talent. Well, that and this guy named Kevin Durant. However, it took a handful of seasons for that core to become a championship contender and Golden State doesn't have that same luxury this time around. In theory, the Warriors are more likely to acquire an immediate contributor by trading the pick than they are by using it themselves, and that option must be considered.

ESPN's Rachel Nichols also is of the belief that Golden State should retain its first-round pick, but for a different reason.

"It's so interesting," Nichols began. "The Warriors were in this once-in-a-lifetime situation because of Steph Curry's ankles, they were able to re-sign him to a contract that didn't really have his worth, and then you have the salary cap explosion in 2016 that enabled them to add Kevin Durant. That's never going to happen again, right? 

"Well, guess what? One of the other 'we never thought it would happen again' situations is what happened to the [San Antonio] Spurs when David Robinson was hurt for most of the year and they were able to draft Tim Duncan to a team that was already really good and should probably not have had a No. 1 draft pick. Well, that's what the Warriors are looking at again, because of these injuries to Steph and Klay. I don't see them giving that up."

The idea that the Warriors would be able to turn their outlying season into a future Hall of Famer sure is enticing. However, it ignores the reality of the situation. There is no Duncan in the 2020 draft class. Heck, there isn't even a consensus top prospect. Whoever the Warriors select with their first-round pick -- if that's what they choose to do -- won't be nearly as close to a sure thing as the greatest power forward of all time. Golden State can hope and pray for a similar result as San Antonio's, but the likelihood is extremely doubtful.

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So, what should the Warriors do? Do they draft someone who Curry can eventually pass the torch to, or do they trade the pick to try to extend the dynasty? Or, is there a way both can be accomplished? 

You can be sure Myers has been deliberating such questions, and will continue to do so all the way up until the Warriors are on the clock -- that is, if it ever gets to that point.

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