The Golden State Warriors have remained steadfast in their commitment to James Wiseman, Moses Moody, and Jonathan Kuminga. All three of them were drafted with a lottery pick and with the hope that they would act as a collective bridge to the next era of contention.
That hasn't happened, and the prevailing question remains when the Warriors might pull the plug on their youth experiment and strike a deal to either bring back actual contributing players or save some money.
While Kuminga has cemented himself as a part of this current rotation, neither Wiseman nor Moody can get on the floor, and word is starting to percolate that Golden State might finally be ready to discuss at least the possibility of moving on one or both of them.
The noise around the league the last couple of days is an increased willingness from the Warriors to engage in conversation and explore the idea of moving their younger, out-of-the-rotation players if a significant enough upgrade is offered. There's a greater whiff of aggressiveness.
Offers always get more realistic as the deadline nears. In recent weeks, teams called the Warriors in search of a bargain. If James Wiseman and Moses Moody weren't providing any current on court value, could they be had for pennies on the dollar? But in recent days, as the conversations league-wide progressively turn more practical, the conceptual deals coming the Warriors' direction have increased enough to believe something might actually materialize before the buzzer.
As mentioned above, trading Wiseman and/or Moody, neither of whom has any real value on the market, wouldn't just be about the possibility of adding some depth to the roster in place of a player who can't get on the court. It would be about money. And not a little bit of money; a lot of money.
Wrap your head around these next two paragraphs from The Athletic's John Hollinger:
Golden State has the league's second-biggest payroll, stands at 28-26 and is without Stephen Curry for the next few weeks at least. The Warriors will write a $130 million [tax] check to the league for this roster as things currently stand, and they also face a staggering luxury-tax bill next season if they keep the roster together. Even if Draymond Green declines his player option and departs in free agency, this will be an impressively expensive team.
As a result, even small bits of window dressing could save eye-popping amounts of money after accounting for the tax penalty and the Warriors' repeater status. That, in turn, focuses attention on James Wiseman. He's owed $9.6 million this year and $12.2 million next year, meaning that San Antonio, Detroit, Utah or Indiana could trade for him without sending anything back. Such a transaction would save the Warriors about $51 million in salary and tax this year and an estimated $85 million in salary and tax next year; a total of $131 million in savings to dump a guy who rarely plays.
It bears repeating that the only way the Warriors would save the full $131 million is if Wiseman were to be dealt to a team with the cap space to absorb him without salary going back to Golden State.
But there are still massive savings to be had even if Golden State takes back equal salary, so long as that player(s) is on an expiring deal and would thus save Golden State the $85 million next season. Of course, the Warriors would likely replace that roster spot next season, although it could be a lower annual number and thus a lower tax penalty.
Still, the idea that Wiseman, if he's not dealt, will cost the Warriors $131 million over the next two seasons is absolutely wild. It's a tough pill to swallow to cut bait with a guy you invested a No. 2 overall pick in, but there's something to be said for not perpetuating a mistake.