Why Poole’s extension will dismantle the Golden State Warriors title team

Jordan Poole (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
Jordan Poole (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images) /

Lost in the recent drama surrounding the Golden State Warriors is the fact that the team and guard Jordan Poole were still negotiating a potential rookie extension. Contract negotiations are difficult enough as is, but this one was high-stakes, particularly for the Golden State Warriors, who already have more than $170 million in committed salaries for next season.

That’s not including the luxury tax, and since they’re repeat offenders, it will dramatically increase their tax bill amount. That sky-high salary and luxury tax bill will eventually force them to cut costs, especially now after agreeing to a 4-year, $140 million extension with Poole.

Retaining Jordan Poole will cost the Golden State Warriors

Poole’s contract extension is the latest and greatest in a line of recent extensions signed by fellow guards from the 2020 NBA draft. The New York Knicks signed RJ Barrett to a four-year, $120 million contract, while the Miami Heat signed Tyler Herro to a four-year, $130 million contract. By receiving $140 million, it shows just how much the Warriors value Poole.

Paying Poole $35 million per season will bring about major changes to the Warriors and force them to choose between several high-profile players on their team. After all, if they extended Andrew Wiggins too, they’d be paying Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Wiggins, and Poole more than $30 million apiece. The salary cap for next season is projected to be only $134 million. I’m no mathematician, but that won’t work.

That’s not even including Draymond Green, who wants a max contract extension. By extending Poole, the Warriors may be forced to eventually trade Wiggins and let Green leave in free agency after this season and reshape the team around Curry, Thompson, and Poole. That might work, especially with top-tier prospects like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody all on the roster.

Still, that means letting a part of their big three leave after Green helped the team win four championships in 11 seasons with the team. It would also be difficult to lose Wiggins, particularly after he emerged as an All-Star last season and managed to shut down a superstar in Jayson Tatum in the NBA Finals en route to a Warriors championship. Those are the breaks, however, and the luxury tax is doing its intended job by forcing good teams to tighten their belts, thus ensuring competitive balance.

Golden State Warriors: Is Jordan Poole worth $140 million?

In short, probably not, at least at the moment, but it’s more complicated than that. Poole is only 23 years old and clearly improving. Meanwhile, the NBA’s salary cap is set to absolutely skyrocket in just a couple of seasons, with the league’s TV deal set to expire after next season. The last time that happened, the salary cap went from $70 million to $94 million in only one year. Don’t act stunned when the salary cap hits $160 million in the near future.

All that’s to say that although Poole may not be worth $140 million now, his contract may be a bargain in just a couple of years as he continues to improve and the salary cap continues to increase. Better yet, at 23, he’ll allow the Warriors to bridge the gap between old school and new school and help the team move on from Curry and Thompson when they inevitably retire. A core of Poole, Wiseman, Kuminga, and Moody, assuming they all pan out, could allow Golden State to continue to compete without skipping a beat.

Of course, Poole will help the team in the short term too. Last season, he made a huge offensive leap, averaging 18.5 points and 4 assists per game in just 30 minutes, and connecting on an impressive 36.4% of his 7.1 3-point attempts per game. His emergence was key to the Warriors’ surprise success, especially with Thompson missing more than half the year and Green also struggling with injuries and his clear decline.

Heading into this season, Poole’s role will only increase, and he’s already shown what that will look like. In five preseason games, he’s averaged 13.2 points in just 14.2 minutes and showcased why he’s become one of the more explosive offensive players in the NBA.

He’s terrific at getting into the paint, either by using ball screens or attacking closeouts. Poole is then able to weave his way to the basket and finish with some nifty layups or stop on a dime and knock down a mid-range jumper while the opposing big man tries to contain his drive. Additionally, he can bomb from three off the dribble, making him an even tougher cover and thus the perfect player to play alongside Curry and Thompson, who draw plenty of attention when playing off-ball.

The same goes when Pool’s playing off-ball, with teams reluctant to leave him open to stop his splash compatriots. This season, now that he’s fully proven himself, expect him to have the green light and to see his scoring jump yet again as he becomes a more featured part of the Warriors’ offense. That could result in him averaging more than 20 points and five assists per game and being one of the Warriors’ three most important offensive players.

Defensively, he still needs to improve, but being a well-above-average offensive player in today’s NBA definitely helps negate any shortcomings on that end.

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All in all, the Golden State Warriors made the right decision by extending Poole, even if it means they have to drastically reshape the roster. Still, he’s worth it, and keeping him around will ensure that the team will be able to bridge the gap when Curry and Thompson retire.