SAN FRANCISCO — After Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a Warriors win that took them one game away from their fourth title in eight years, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst went to the Sports Center and decided to embarrass himself.
“They have a payroll of $340 million when you consider taxes,” Windhorst said of Golden State. “You don’t just have to beat the Warriors on the court, you have to beat their checkbook. Nothing takes away from Andrew Wiggins tonight but it was a checkbook win for the Warriors.
A “checkbook win.”
In the days to come, no matter what the spin, it was not meant as a compliment.
No, it was intended to undermine the success of the Warriors this season.
And that’s fine. Indecent, but okay. Heaven knows I might even give a good pot-shot.
But what really bothers me about this is that it’s taking water for the cheap owners of the NBA who want to complain about a really rich team, really investing in theirs.
That’s the embarrassing part.
There’s a lot of “rumble” around the NBA that tells owners not to like the expense of Golden State. The Warriors have the highest payroll in the league at $178.9 million per USA TODAY, and with their luxury tax payments, they are, in fact, close to the $340 million mark for this season.
But how is this anything but a good thing?
Not just for Bay and Warriors fans and Steph Curry’s great-grandchildren, but for the entire league?
It is not that the luxury tax just disappears.
And shouldn’t it be ideal for a team to actually spend money on its players in an effort to make the best team possible?
The Warriors don’t break any rules, nor are they pushing any limits – they’re playing within NBA rules and are heavily punished for not being cheap.
They pay the luxury tax – making you spend more – because they want to win.
Obviously, this is not a universal wish in the NBA.
The Warriors are not the basketball equivalent of the Steinbrenner Yankees going all out and using the Oakland A’s as a farm team. This is not Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain sports washing position.
No, the Warriors spend money on their players from the money they bring in through investments in their basketball product.
It is also redundant to speak in a derogatory tone on such an enterprise.
On top of Windhorst’s SportsCenter hit, I listened to their “Hoop Collective” podcast after Game 5. I’m actually a longtime subscriber to the show – it’s often an enjoyable and informative listen.
But again there was the “checkbook wins” argument. And with a little more time to elaborate, the subtext was clear that Windhorst thought Wiggins — who had 26 points and 13 rebounds in Game 5 — was a luxury item the other teams couldn’t afford.
We are now beyond shameful. It must be some kind of practical joke.
When the Warriors traded for Wiggins, the general consensus was that he had the worst contract in the NBA.
The Warriors only traded for him because they had determined internally that, no, there was actually a worse contract – it was the one they signed for Kevin Durant to D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Had given. ,
Wiggins was regarded as such an over-paying disappointment that the Timberwolves bounced a first-round pick in the deal to do so.
And now Wiggins is a luxury?
Revisionist history is ridiculous.
The Warriors actually have four players with “maximum” salaries – Wiggins, Klay Thompson, Drummond Greene, and the NBA’s highest-paid player, Steph Curry.
He drafted three of those players and rewarded them for contracts corresponding to their three championships and now six NBA Finals trips.
The other “maximum” contract – Wiggins – is only on the team because the NBA and the players’ union refused to smooth out the league’s salary cap in the summer of 2016, raising the cap for each team to about $20 million.
The Warriors could have used that money to re-sign wing Harrison Barnes to a great deal, but instead, they convinced Durant to come to the bay.
When Durant left, instead of letting that pay slot disappear, the Warriors opted to fill it with Russell, striking a deal with the Nets and the player — and even in the draft pick — his To maintain four maximum spots. The post-Durant era. He had grand plans for last place, but ended up with Wiggins, who has become an impact, two-way player.
Each one of the Warriors max players is, in essence, a household product. Wiggins wasn’t drafted by the Dubs, but he didn’t play anything like it when he first showed up in San Francisco.
Warriors’ success was not bought, it was built.
And building in San Francisco is expensive.
The Warriors know, because they finance this payroll spending through the money they make at the Chase Center, building the Arena Warriors ownership group—with their own money—in town.
The Warriors now make a handful of money in the chase center and this playoff success has brought in more than nine figures.
If the warriors are operating in the red, it is only because they are investing in other things to expand their empire. Otherwise, it’s a self-sustaining hoops venture – until the dubs win. And the profits go to court.
Nothing is stopping the other teams from doing the exact same thing.
I understand that not every NBA owner is making money, but that’s not the Warriors’ problem.
Nor is it a warriors problem if the other bosses don’t want to spend what it might take to win.
For example, the Celtics made some trades last February in an effort to avoid the luxury tax. Boston wanted to improve its team this winter, yes, but it seemed like the organization’s top priority was to keep costs down.
There is no merit in being cheap. There is even less in turning the rich into villains. There are no victims in the ownership of the NBA.
If you can’t keep up, cash out.
That said, the notion that the Warriors are only paying for victory is also comical.
Yes, on Monday, Golden State introduced four “maximum” players, but they also had one player on a minimum-price contract in their starting lineup, Otto Porter. (NBA rules allow teams to add as many players as they want on such deals, regardless of their cap status.)
He closed Game 5 with Kevon Looney—a center he twice signed to cheaper-than-expected deals because the big market never developed for him—and Gary Peyton II, who was at the end of training camp. Was disconnected and was available to someone else. League to sign. He’s also on the lowest deal.
The Warriors have four minimum-value players in their 10-man rotation, as Nemanja Bejelica and Andre Iguodala are also making league minimums.
Are those players also luxury?
Brian, how much can you spend on a team for a title to be completely legit?
It’s all so funny because not long ago, the Warriors were undoubtedly the laughing stock of the NBA.
Twelve years ago yesterday, Lacob & Co bought Dubs for a then-record $450 million. One more expense? At that time, yes.
But the new owners got lucky—they inherited the curry, then in their second year.
A little over a decade later, the franchise is estimated to be worth $6 billion.
Now was that assessment an accident or a byproduct of skill increased?
Next season, the Warriors’ payroll could exceed that original $450 million investment.
After all, he has some really good players on his team who deserve to be raised.
While other bosses shamefully plead poverty and try to undermine ESPN’s journalist warriors, they really put their money where their mouth was.