The Golden State Warriors now employ Andrew Wiggins, and the road here was complicated. OK, deep breath: Kevin Durant chose to join the Brooklyn Nets in free agency last summer, and the Warriors tried to salvage the situation by executing a double-sign-and-trade, bringing back D'Angelo Russell on a maximum contract. Trade rumors about Russell started immediately, and they indeed moved him last Thursday, just before the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, in exchange for the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected 2021 first-round pick and 2021 second-round pick. They also took on Wiggins' contract, which will see him making $33.6 million in the 2022-23 season, and maneuvered themselves out of the luxury tax, sending Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman to the Wolves with Russell. Whew.

To understand why Golden State did all this, you must understand the specific problem its front office was trying to solve: It had an extremely expensive roster with stars who want to compete for championships, but it had limited ways to either acquire more top-end talent or add more proven role players. Russell was not a perfect fit, and he came with a hefty price tag, but the Warriors decided that getting him was better than getting nothing. They knew they might move him, and they did. 

(More minutiae: The Warriors traded their top-four protected 2024 first-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies to dump Andre Iguodala's contract and facilitate the Russell acquisition. They also traded a pick that will convey as a 2025 second-rounder to Brooklyn, and they hard-capped themselves for this season. Got it? Cool!)

I wasn't particularly excited about the Wiggins move when it happened, but from an asset-management perspective, this series of trades looks pretty impressive. Golden State essentially made an extremely valuable draft pick appear out of thin air, and its accidental tank job this season puts the franchise in an even better place. In an interview with The Athletic's Tim Kawakami, owner Joe Lacob sounded extremely pleased with how things have come together:

"Anybody who can't see that this is a great deal for us, I don't know what they're thinking," Lacob said. "You can sit and talk about what his salary is, but [Wiggins] had the same salary as D-Lo. They're both good players. They're different players. You can question whether this is a better fit; we think it is, as much as I liked D-Lo. He's a really good player. And I think it's good for him, too. So it's a fair, good thing for both teams."

"What people don't understand is that if we lost Kevin Durant [straight up in free agency], we would've got nothing," Lacob said. "We just got somewhat fortunate that he went to Brooklyn and we were able to get a sign-and-trade for a guy that is a good player. Questionable whether he was going to be a fit. You've heard [Steve] Kerr's comments. I mean, everyone knew that.

"But we were hopeful. And you want to have a positive attitude. And we didn't have Steph and Klay to play with him this year, so I don't think that we had a fair test. But I think … there was a chance that we were going to make a move at some point that maybe made more sense. There was a chance.

"And it just turned out that we did it now. We got what we wanted. I think if I would've bet before the trade deadline, I probably would've said we would've re-evaluated in the summer, gone through the whole year. But we were fortunate. We got what we wanted, and we did it."

Lacob dismissed concerns about Wiggins' salary, saying the more important thing is that, as a small forward, he fits positionally with the rest of the roster. He said he feels "pretty damn good" about the future of the team, and he emphasized that the team will be much more flexible now. Thanks to injuries to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State might end up with the top pick in this year's draft. Thanks to the trade, it will be able to use the full mid-level exception in free agency, not the smaller one that you get if you're a taxpayer. It also has a $17 million trade exception from the Iguodala trade, which expires on July 7. Avoiding the repeater tax next season was not a small thing, either.

Again, from The Athletic: 

"Yes, I'm talking about mid-level exception, I'm talking about trade exception, any of the possibilities." Lacob said. "Doesn't mean we will, doesn't mean we'll be able to, but we have the opportunity, we have the chance to do that now.

"Our payroll right now, right now, is well over $200 [million] for next year [counting luxury-tax penalties]. People don't do the math to understand it. We know what it's going to be. It's going to be the highest payroll we've ever had next year. We know that. The question is how high. If there's a trade-exception [deal] that we really want, that's worth it, let's consider it. Mid-level exception? Very likely to use.

"The first pick in the draft, if we were to get that? With luxury tax, [that contract would be] huge. Really, the emphasis is on next year. The next two years, our window -- Steph's last two years under contract, before we hopefully bring him back again -- we need to field the best possible team we can. That was the emphasis."

It is fair to be skeptical of the Warriors' ability to bring the best out of Wiggins, even in a smaller role. It is fair to wonder if the front office should have been able to extract more out of Minnesota, given how desperate it was to pair Russell with Karl-Anthony Towns and how little the league thinks of Wiggins. Golden State entered last summer's free agency with almost no flexibility, though, and that will not be the case this summer. It is extremely rare that a roster as talented as this also has two first-round picks as good as these.

In a way, the Warriors' short-lived Russell era should be instructive. Wiggins' fit on the court is interesting to discuss, but it's not really the point. There is no guarantee he will play out his contract in Golden State, and he might even be moved along before next season's trade deadline, perhaps along with one or both of those draft picks in exchange for a genuine star. The Warriors are always, always thinking big.