LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 10: Alec Burks #8 and Glenn Robinson III #22 of the Golden State Warriors … [+]
Ahead of the NBA trade deadline, the Golden State Warriors traded Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return, the Warriors are receiving three second-round picks via the Dallas Mavericks in 2020, the Denver Nuggets in 2021, and the Toronto Raptors in 2022.
The Warriors options on the wing are thin
The trade of Burks was not really a surprise as a veteran gunner who had shown he could rack up the points off the bench, but Robinson had fitted in well with the Warriors and looked like he might be a future option for their wing depth. He was shooting 40% from three-point range, defending reasonably capably, and was reportedly very happy in Golden State. The Warriors would only have been able to offer Robinson a 20% raise on his minimum deal next season, but he was apparently open to taking less than he might make on the open market.
The Warriors do still have their taxpayer Mid Level Exception (MLE) to play with in the offseason, so it’s not inconceivable that Robinson could come back for part, or all, of that. That’s more possible now that Andre Iguodala has been traded to Miami by the Memphis Grizzlies and signed a $30m, two-year extension in the day’s other big news, ruling out any kind of reunion with the Warriors.
The Warriors certainly don’t have many good options to guard the league’s premier position without Iguodala. Maybe they can find someone better than Robinson with that money, but they probably would have liked to have the option to try to re-sign him on the cheap, and then use the taxpayer MLE elsewhere.
So what did the get for their trouble? Together with the second-rounder they got via the Utah Jazz by trading Willie Cauley-Stein, the Warriors have replenished their empty war chest of second-round picks after spending all of their own up to the 2027 draft, with the lone exception of 2022 which also happens to be the year when the “one-and-done rule” barring high school players from entering the NBA draft may be scrapped.
The picks themselves may not help the Warriors find much value in their respective drafts. All would currently fall in the late 40s or mid-50s, which traditionally does not yield much of a return. That said, the Warriors have had some recent success in drafting in the second round, taking Eric Paschall with the 41st pick last year. Toronto’s is also far enough out that if they decide to rebuild around Pascal Siakam, it may yet yield a decent prospect.
However, the true value may be as sweeteners for more minor moves around the edges. The situation is still fluid, but the Warriors have every incentive to try to duck under the luxury tax this season, as it would lead to them avoiding the “repeater tax” next season. The most straightforward way to do this would be to trade Kevon Looney. But he is an important player for what they hope will be their next championship team.
The trade of Robinson and Burks may open up another path, though it will be very tight indeed. The Warriors are currently $472,891 over the luxury tax line, according to the salary cap website, earlybirdrights.com. However the trade drops them to just 11 players, so they will need to sign three more players to get back up to the league-mandated minimum of 14 players. With 70 days left in the regular season, a pro-rated rest-of-season minimum contract will carry a cap hit of just under $641,000. This means that the Warriors need to find a way to drop salary of just under $2.4m.
The Warriors could look to get under by trading players on more than the minimum. Their obvious candidates are their three younger players on the first-round rookie scale. Jordan Poole, their first-round pick in 2019 is making $1,964,760, while 2018 picks Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman are making $1,925,880 and $1,897,800 respectively. Poole and Evans together would leave them just short of $1.5m under the tax line. Accounting for the addition of two rest-of-season contracts should just about keep them under for the rest of the year.
Another wheeze the Warriors can try, courtesy of The Athletic’s John Hollinger, if the money gets really tight is to fill the 14th spot by cycling through 10-day contracts, with two-week gaps in between, as teams are permitted to drop to 13 roster spots for two weeks at a time.
So can the Warriors do it?
The problem for the Warriors, other than the very fine margins they are operating in, is that of those three young players Jordan Poole and Jacob Evans do not look like NBA rotation players at all. It may cost a fair bit of the draft capital they have acquired to dump them. And with every team now knowing that this is what they’re up to, and there’s only one day in which they can do it, they don’t really have a lot of leverage.
Whatever happens, it’s shaping up to be an eventful trade deadline day for the Warriors.