New NBA Salary Cap Rules Amidst Pandemic Could Elevate Golden State Back To Top

The NBA salary cap and luxury tax will be set at $109.1M and $132.7M respectively, the same as it was for the 2019-20 season. However, tax payments will be reduced in proportion to any decreases in the Basketball Related Income (BRI).

That last part is extremely helpful to a team like the Warriors. With $130.1M committed to the foursome of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins for 2020-21, the team was facing a huge tax bill at season’s end, which could’ve affected roster building and caused them to be much more frugal. 

But this projection means they’ll spend far less in luxury tax payments. 

This will also help teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks as they look to upgrade their roster in “Cream City” with the hope of keeping reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo around for a lot longer. 

 Back to the “Dubs,” as they stand to benefit the most out of any team in the league.  The absence of fans in the arenas will continue to have a severe negative impact on league revenue. If that revenue decreases by 30% which is highly plausible, the Warriors could use their massive $17.2M traded player exception (Andre Iguodala Trade) and save nearly $50M in tax penalties as compared to last season’s structure. 

A 3.5 month layoff in the middle of the season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,  pushed back the NBA’s expiration deadline for TPEs to correspond with the adjusted 2020-21 league year. The TPE originally was slated to expire on July 7.

The Iguodala trade with the Memphis Grizzlies arguably is Golden State’s best non-player asset at the moment.

While the Dubs have a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and what is expected to be a high pick in 2021 — via the Minnesota Timberwolves — the $17.2 million TPE could compel them to be more aggressive in spending, with the tax payments considerably more manageable. The same goes for every other team, and according to reports, some aren’t too happy about it. They view it as another win for the Warriors. 

In theory, the Warriors could acquire any NBA player using the $17.2 million TPE whose 2020-21 salary is equal or lesser to that value.

Steve Kerr’s crew has been ruffling the feathers of rival teams for 5-6 years, as the NBA has been in catchup mode dealing with the Golden State juggernaut. The Warriors have been completely irrelevant for about 15-16 months now, and the rest of the league has breathed a collective sigh of relief. With the rash of injuries suffered and the free agency departure of Kevin Durant, Golden State was a hurdle many teams were happy to see out of their way. 

But now they’re back and it could be with vengeance. The core of their dynasty is healthy, motivated, and energized. That alone should put a shiver in the bones of NBA foes.  

Funny thing is, I hear folks complaining about them cheating, but they’ve done nothing under the new agreement that’s unfair. Just as in 2016 when they signed Kevin Durant. Their front office takes advantage of any opportunity to improve. They’re organically built with the drafting of the Splash Brothers and emotional leaders Draymond Green. They turned KD into an asset that ultimately landed them Andrew Wiggins. They’ve built an organization and culture that players are attracted to. 

Every dynasty requires a bit of luck here and there, but in this case, “timing is everything” as they say. Golden State had no control over things falling into place as they have. They might benefit more than any other team, but how soon we forget how much the franchise lost last season financially. 

Had their new arena, Chase Center had anything close to the opening expected and planned for, they would’ve been able to afford the huge luxury tax bill anyway. The coronavirus cost teams millions. 

The new luxury tax structure doesn’t guarantee anything and especially not a title. But the reaction to it tells you all you need to know about the fear and respect this franchise has earned during the Mark Jackson, Steve Kerr, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green era. 


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