The Golden State Warriors will not be able to top their free agency haul from last season when they managed to bring Kevin Durant into the fold. However, they started off free agency on the right foot with three key re-signings.
After being massively underpaid on a four-year $44 million contract, Stephen Curry quickly re-upped on a five-year supermax contract worth $201 million. The deal reverses Curry's financial fortunes, as he goes from the league's most underpaid player to the highest-paid player in league history.
The Warriors also got commitments from Shaun Livingston and David West in the opening hours of free agency. Livingston signed a three-year $24 million deal that likely offered him less than he could have gotten on the open market, while David West committed to a one-year minimum deal that he said will be his last NBA contract. While the Warriors still have a major free agent on the market in Andre Iguodala, their haul from the first day of 2017 free agency was both completely expected and vital to their future success.
Steph Curry: Five Years, $201 Million
Kevin Durant may have taken some of his shine last season, but Steph Curry is still Golden State's most important player. While his re-signing for a maximum contract has been almost a foregone conclusion since his second MVP award, the Warriors were smart to lock Curry up the second that the clock struck midnight on the East Coast.
The effect that Steph Curry has on this team is truly staggering. Even though a relatively down year for Curry led to a spot on the All-NBA second team instead of another MVP trophy, his unprecedented shooting touch makes him the most important offensive player on a team that has Kevin Durant. Teams are so afraid of Curry the instant that he crosses halfcourt that the rest of the Warriors can get wide-open looks with really even trying:
They say that a picture says a thousand words, and this seven-second clip says at least that many about Steph's shooting gravity. Four of Portland's five defenders are so keyed in on Curry that Kevin Durant gets the ball before anyone even notices him. The only Trail Blazer player that is not entranced by Curry is Evan Turner covering Kaly Thompson to prevent a wide-open dunk. By the time Damian Lillard realizes that Durant has the ball, he is already starting his shot.
The Golden State Warriors had an unheard-of Net Rating of 12.1 during this regular season per NBA.com, outscoring opponents by that many points per 100 possessions. Thier Offensive Rating (a league-best 113.2) jumps to 118.1 with Steph on the floor, while their second-best Defensive Rating drops from 101.1 to 100.9 with Curry playing. That left Curry with a Net Rating of 17.2 during his time on the floor--second to only JaVale McGee.
When Steph sits? The Warriors barely outscored opponents with a Net Rating of 1.0; that mark was by far the lowest on the Warriors, with Draymond in second place with a 5.6 Net Rating during his time on the bench. Furthermore, Golden State's Offensive Rating cratered to 102.4 with Steph out, which would have been just barely ahead of the 27th-ranked Atlanta Hawks.
Kevin Durant shone on the biggest stage in the 2016-17 playoffs and earned his Finals MVP trophy. However, the Warriors would not be anything close to the dominant force that they are without the talents of Stephen Curry. After one of the biggest contract heists in NBA history kept Curry in Golden State after his rookie contract, he is still underpaid on the richest contract in the history of the league.
Shaun Livingston: Three Years, $24 Million
Given his horrific knee injury early in his career and his long battle back to a prominent NBA role, no-one would have faulted Shaun Livingston for hitting the open market and extracting as much money as he could on his first big NBA deal. However, Livingston instead opted to re-sign with the Warriors for three years and $24 million, which is significantly less than he would have received on the open market.
However, Livingston's contract makes far more sense in the contexts of his comments in the wake of his new deal. He reportedly told CSN Bay Area that "you can't put a price on happiness" shortly after inking his new contract.
Livingston's defensive versatility as a long 6'7" guard and facility in running the pick and roll will continue to make him a great fit for the Warriors. His lack of a three-point shot, his greatest weakness, is far less of an issue when surrounded by the unprecedented shooting talent in Golden State. Shaun will get to compete for titles for another three years and play in a situation that makes him happy. Warriors fans should be overjoyed as well that they got a great player and great person to return home.
David West: One Year, $2.3 Million
TNT's David Aldridge reported that David West will stay in Golden State for one more year before retiring. West could easily have ridden off into the sunset with his first ring last season, but his decision to stick it out for one more year is another huge plus for the Warriors.
With Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee still in free agency (in addition to James McAdoo hitting the market after the Warriors rescinded his qualifying offer), David West is essentially the only regular-season center on the roster. While Draymond Green will take a lot of those center minutes during the playoffs, West's incredible defensive IQ and solid touch from mid-range will make him a great bench cog in his final year--just as he was last season. The center position will continue to be the least of the Warriors' concerns, but West at least shores up their currently wide-open rotation down low.