The Golden State Warriors won legions of new fans with their enthralling playoff performances this postseason. Media and fans gushed over their young core of Steph Curry, Klay Thomson and Harrison Barnes and whether the team can improve again next season.
Well, that improvement will have to come from players already on the roster.
Big man Andris Biedrins will reportedly opt-in to the final year of his contract. His $54 million, six-year contract is one of the worst in the league and although fans hoped he would opt out and become a free agent, Biedrins will elect to stick around the Bay Area for one more season.
On top of Biedrins’ $9 million, Brandon Rush will want to play next year after missing the season while he recovers from surgery. Richard Jefferson holds an $11 million player option for next season that he will presumably exercise rather than take a lower deal on the open market.
This leaves Golden State heavily over the cap and paying the punitive luxury tax before they have even entertained bringing back free agents Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, two veterans who played key roles in this playoff run. They have to figure all of this out without the benefit of the Amnesty provision which they exercised to cut Charlie Bell last summer in their futile attempt to woo DeAndre Jordan from Los Angeles.
The silver lining is that the Warriors figure to have plenty of cap space going into the summer of 2014 when the free agency is shaping up to be a frenzy.
Mark Jackson will have to show more coaching nous to coax greater production from his young core and hope the front office can find a way to fill in the gaps with players on smaller contracts.