When the Warriors traded away Jordan Poole for Chris Paul this offseason, the conversation shifted to the fallout of Draymond Green’s punch last October.
Could the Warriors make Poole and Draymond co-exist after a tumultuous season when locker room chemistry was compromised?
Golden State owner Joe Lacob joined Tim Kawakami on his latest “TK Show” podcast and discussed the trade at length. Lacob acknowledged that the Poole-Draymond friction was real but that it wasn’t the defining factor for the high-profile trade.
“I don’t wanna say absolutely that’s true,” Lacob said. “I think it’s fair to say that there was some level of concern going forward, whether that was going to be something that would work out. To be honest with you, I think it would have worked out and could have worked out. But I think it is fair to say that in order to make the team work next year, to make the numbers work and so on, someone probably was gonna be the odd man out. It just turned out – and it wasn’t planned – that it was Jordan.”
While Poole just turned 24 this summer and looks to be on the verge of his prime years, the 38-year-old Paul is definitely in the twilight of his career.
Throughout the year, Paul was often Public Enemy No. 1 for Dub Nation and Steph Curry fans. Even Lacob had to scratch his head when the topic of trading for CP3 was broached.
“Chris Paul? When I first heard that and thought about it, was like, ‘Really?’” Lacob said. “It seemed highly unlikely we would do that. But the more we thought about it and considered our options, we thought, ‘Hey, he’s a great player. He’s always made other people better.’ He hasn’t won a championship yet, but maybe he can do that with our group. It would be a hell of a storybook ending to his career or year-ending, if he was able to do it with us. We kinda warmed to the idea.”
While Paul’s role – whether it be a starter or bench player – is yet to be resolved, the Warriors are hoping that the veteran can provide a steady presence for the second unit after last year’s hit-or-miss bench play. Paul is old by basketball standards but still has built a reputation as being a solid defender throughout his career, something Poole has struggled to do throughout his four seasons in the league.
Money is also a huge factor, as Poole is about to begin his four-year, $123 million contract extension and the Warriors could cut loose Paul and his $30 million salary in 2024-25.
“The more we processed it, the more we felt it really made sense – at least for the short to intermediate term,” Lacob said. “Long term, I’m not gonna deny we gave up a great attribute in Jordan Poole, who probably has a decade or so left to play in this league and is probably just going to get better. We’re going more short-term than long-term on this, but for a lot of different reasons. Both for basketball reasons and financial reasons, it just made sense to do it.”
According to @GSWCBA, the Warriors currently have a $395 million payroll when you include luxury tax penalties. But that figure could soar above $400 million once the Warriors fill out their roster, as they currently have two full-time vacancies that could be filled via free agency or guaranteeing a two-way contract.
A couple years ago, Lacob told Kawakami that a $400 million payroll wasn’t reasonable, but here we are. Once again, Lacob is opening up the checkbook to keep the championship window open for Steph, Klay and Draymond.
“This wasn’t the plan,” Lacob said. “I’m not gonna tell you it was the plan, because it wasn’t. But, again, we wanna win. Right now, our core players are getting older. We don’t know how long they’re gonna play at this level, hopefully a while. But I think we have to maximize that opportunity.”
Going forward, Lacob said he’d like to keep the Warriors under the NBA’s second tax apron, which will be fully in place by next summer. While Lacob didn’t mind paying the cash penalties associated with going over the luxury tax line in years past, the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement calls for the second apron violators to be prohibited from including cash in a trade, trading first-round draft picks, using trade exceptions generated by aggregating salaries in a trade, carrying trade exceptions from previous years, etc.
“It is very penal, as everyone knows, to be above it,” Lacob said. “I think our goal would be to be under it. You just lose too many options in terms of constructing your roster with draft picks and a variety of things. It is very difficult to contemplate not being under it. But, look, it’s a year-by-year thing, we’ll look at it.”