If the Golden State Warriors finish the job in these NBA Finals vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, it will cap a historic season that was initiated by having the best regular season record in NBA history with 73 wins.
But here is what’s an even scarier proposition for the rest of the league –The Warriors are going to be really, really good for a very, very long time.
It’s now been established that their core of the future is built around Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. What’s more impressive is their contractual situations. Curry, who is currently on the books at just around $12 million per year might, in fact, be the best value contract in the entire league given just how incredible he has been the last two seasons. Curry isn’t due to be re-upped till the summer of 2017. He will obviously cash in huge when that time comes, but that time isn’t going to be THIS summer. That prospect alone gives the Warriors more than enough time to plan their work for the future.
Klay Thompson is locked into his current deal till the summer of 2019. One can argue, with the escalating salary cap rising every season beginning this summer and beyond, Thompson is also a player on the Golden State roster who is making much less than he would make on the open market. This is especially true given how tremendous he has played this postseason.
Then there is Draymond Green, who opted to lock himself into a long term 5 year $82 million deal last summer. Green is one of the most versatile players in the league and was an MVP candidate this past season. Draymond is on the books till 2020.
The Warriors also have short term flexibility entering this summer. The team, if necessary, can shed close to $20 million alongside the aforementioned rising salary cap if they choose to let players like Harrison Barnes, Shawn Livingston, Festus Ezeli and others walk. There is also that other long shot option of whether they want to enter the Kevin Durant sweepstakes should the All Star make himself available to suitors.
Obviously, nothing is ever guaranteed in the ultra competitive Western Conference, but here’s the reason this is significant to Golden State’s future:
Even if the Oklahoma City Thunder bring back their current roster in 2016-17, there is no guarantee that beyond next season they will be the same team in the future. Assuming Kevin Durant does what many believe he will do this summer, which is sign a two year deal with a player option in the second year. Should the Thunder fail to get past Golden State next season, both Durant and his sidekick Russell Westbrook would then be on the same free agency cycle in 2017. OKC could actually lose both players. That would immediately take the Thunder out of the championship conversation.
The San Antonio Spurs are always going to be in the mix, even when Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili decide to call it quits. But have they already hit their ceiling with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge? I’d still put my money on the Warriors in a head to head matchup at this time.
The Los Angeles Clippers are always going to be that untrustworthy franchise. For all the talent that exists in LA, there isn’t a year that goes by now that either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin’s names aren’t being attached to trade rumors. Plus CP3 isn’t getting any younger.
You also have to account for the unknown teams off the radar that are in position to make a splash in the next few seasons.
For example, the Portland Trailblazers, who have a young core in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, plus oodles of cap room heading into the summer. Plus, there’s the Minnesota Timberwolves, who may have the most young and talented core in the league with Andrew Wiggins, Zack Levine and Karl Anthony-Towns in addition with newly hired head coach Tim Tibodeau.
All that to say is this. The Western Conference will always be a challenge, but the advantage Golden State contains is constant continuity within their core. Whether it translates into championships each season is another conversation. One thing is for certain: the Warriors are not going away anytime soon.