The Golden State Warriors are not exactly the first team that comes to mind when thinking of NBA penny-pinching anymore. The team that’s won two of the last three championships while blowing a 3-1 Finals lead in between has spent gobs of money on its roster, with a payroll of around $135 million this season alone, according to Basketball Insiders.
$135 million may not sound like a ton as NBA cap figures skyrocket, but the salary cap is still around $99 million, meaning the Warriors are going to have to pay a hefty tax bill.
In order to brace for that, and reportedly because the team was doing well enough to not need his expertise as much, the Warriors asked former advisor Jerry West — who is now with the Clippers — to take a pay cut this offseason, according to an excerpt of Jack McCallum’s new book on the team, “Golden Days”:
“Exact figures are hard to come by because West’s salary was partly dictated by franchise evaluation and some monies were deferred to enable him to buy a small stake in the team—remember that “small” in this business means as much as $1 million. But the best estimate is that West was asked to take what one source called a “material” pay cut to about $1 million. The best guess on material is about 50%, meaning that West had been making about $2 million. (Neither West nor Lacob would comment directly on dollar figures.)”
West was rumored to be connected to the Lakers, which he says was never on the table, and he ultimately ended up taking a role with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Warriors decision can be partially justified by how much they’re spending or how the team may not need a mastermind like West at the helm to make decisions like whether or not it’s a good idea to keep paying Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to keep playing basketball for them.
Still, West is a basketball genius and one of the best executives in the history of professional sports, and only time will tell if the Warriors will regret letting the man who convinced them to make sure they didn’t trade Thompson for Kevin Love and played a large part in the franchise’s meteoric rise walk away.