Gary Payton II shows why Golden State Warriors paid an extra $ 10 million in luxury tax

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It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors are spending huge sums of money this year as they first hit the NBA repeat tax, with essentially four contracts max on the books. Through Sportrac they will pay an NBA record $ 346.2 million in wages and luxury tax savings this season.

Luxury tax savings vs 15th man

Because of this, there was a real question mark as to whether the Warriors would use their 15th place in the roster. Since they were already in the $ 35 million to $ 40 million range above the luxury tax threshold, each dollar is multiplied by 6.25. A minimum wage of $ 1,669,178 costs them more than $ 10.4 million in taxes and over $ 12.1 million once wages are included.

At the end of the preseason, they gave up all the players vying for that 15th place, including Avery Bradley, which was a bold move for a team in desperate need of rear defense and a common sense of veterans.

But that was not the end of the story. Gary Payton II had already signed a partially guaranteed contract at the end of last season. By giving him up and then resigning him to a new veteran’s minimum contract, the Warriors ended up with their 15th man, and a lesser saving of $ 1.7 million in luxury tax, thanks to the difference between Payton’s contract. signed last season and the part of the veteran’s minimum that counts towards the salary cap.

Payton is worth the cost

Still, $ 10.4 million in taxes, and $ 12.1 million in total, is a hefty price to pay for the 15th man on the list. But last night in Sacramento, Payton proved why it was worth it for the Warriors. With Iguodala at rest, the Warriors needed a defensive guard to fight Sacramento’s impressive young backcourt. Payton II responded to the challenge, proving “a thousand percent” that the Warriors were right to spend the extra money according to Stephen Curry.

There was never a question about the defense with Payton, and it was quite visible. The question mark over Payton has always been, what can he give you on offense?

Interestingly, the Warriors used Payton more as a sharp wing than a keeper, which uses his athleticism and timing off the ball. They can get away with their reverse attack with forwards like Draymond Green, Otto Porter Jr and Nemanja Bjelica.

But the three-point shot is what will make or break Payton’s career. It’s tough to survive in the NBA with a career average of 26.7% beyond the arc, especially as a perimeter player. The Warriors version of Payton seems to have made a breakthrough, however. Against the Kings, Payton had 10 points in 17 minutes, including two big three-pointers in the fourth quarter. This follows 10 games with the Golden State last season where Payton shot 50% from beyond the arc, and an impressive performance in the Summer League.

Warriors have a reputation for developing marginal players

Payton isn’t the first player to go through the Warriors system and dramatically improve his shooting. Juan Toscano-Anderson was in roughly the same position during the 2019-20 season as an older NBA fringe player who was a defensive scholar but held back by offensive limitations. Last season Toscano-Anderson really broke through, and part of that was down to his 40% shot from deep. This season it is at 50%, albeit on a very small sample size.

Damion Lee is another example of an NBA fringe player the Warriors have developed over the years. Although he’s always been a solid shooter, Lee has improved to the point where he averaged less than 40% last season and is now an integral part of the Warriors’ rotation.

What Payton, Lee, and Toscano-Anderson all have in common is that they are smart, savvy gamers who have had to work on their games to correct flaws. Due to their experience, intelligence and versatility, they are able to contribute as rotating parts to the complex system of the Warriors. And more importantly for the Warriors, they were able to secure all three on veteran minimum contracts to complete their extremely expensive roster.

Warriors won’t be cheaper

With Curry’s mega-expansion, Warriors’ bills are unlikely to be any cheaper in the future. That’s why their young rookie players are so important. The emergence of Jordan Poole this season is a prime example of the hoped-for merging of their timelines. He was on the verge of unplayability in his rookie season, before becoming a solid contributor in his second season. Now in his third year, he’s ready for a jump.

A salary cap that gives the Warriors two years of production well above its value. By the time his contract is extended, Wiggins’ agreement will have expired. If they can pull off the same trick with Wiseman or Kuminga this season, and they could definitely use 15-20 minutes of someone who can put pressure on the rim, then they can continue the process and not have to worrying about paying them big bucks until Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are kicked off the books. This is the key to the longevity of the Warriors.

But Poole also shows the risk. There is no guarantee of anything when you take young, unpolished prospects. And Poole’s game, while vastly improved, still includes the recklessness of youth a little too much. The shot selection can get a bit wild and turnovers are a bit too frequent. This is what happens when you take on younger prospects who need to grow. In the long run, they might take you to a higher place, but the ground is a little lower.

At the other end of the spectrum, free agency offers the possibility of signing contracts of value. But, even though the Warriors have done well there, there are more places available on the contenders than there are veterans in the limited pool who are willing to play for the minimum and can contribute to a squad. in the playoffs.

This leaves the Warriors in need of some players in between their two timelines, who are a bit more experienced and savvy, but don’t come with a hefty price tag attached. Guys who don’t make too many mistakes can play solid defense, knock down open shots, move the ball around and be always ready. And the emergence of Payton II is perhaps just the latest example.


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