The Athletic's Tim Kawakami told Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post on his podcast, Posting Up, that both he and Marcus Thompson of The Athletic believe the Golden State Warriors will make a strong push to sign superstar Paul George next summer (h/t Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk):
"Marcus and I have teased this for more than a year. We think they’re going to go after Paul George, somehow. I think Joe Lacob is going to try to find a way to get Paul George. I don’t know how that would happen, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen when they were—three years ago, when they said they were go after Durant. Well, they didn’t say it. But they might have whispered it."
While that sounds intriguing (or horrifying, depending on your team allegiance), it would be quite the feat if the Warriors could somehow afford George under the salary cap. Let's take a look at the team's main commitments for next season, per Spotrac:
- Steph Curry: $37.4 million cap hit
- Kevin Durant: $26.2 million cap hit (player option)
- Klay Thompson: $18.9 million cap hit
- Draymond Green: $17.4 million cap hit
- Andre Iguodala: $16.0 million cap hit
- Shaun Livingston: $8.3 million
With the salaries above, the Warriors are already sitting at $124.2 million against the cap, which takes them way into the luxury tax and ensures they couldn't afford George under the hard cap.
Durant likely will opt out after this season and earn himself a nice raise. That actually helps the Warriors, since they will have his Bird rights next summer and can go above the cap to sign him, which is how they can squeeze him in.
They wouldn't have them for George in free agency, however. And while the hard cap will likely rise from the $119.266 million it is this season, it wouldn't rise enough.
There are workarounds. Maybe they trade one of the above pieces to land George at the trade deadline. Maybe they convince the Thunder to take on Iguodala and Livingston in a sign-and-trade, though they'd still have to squeeze all of these salaries under the hard cap in that scenario, which would mean major discounts from Durant and George.
So barring a trade of some kind, it's hard to figure out how the math would work for George in Golden State, and even then it's complicated and might cost the Warriors a player like Thompson. But the Warriors shocked the NBA and signed Durant a summer ago, so if any team could figure out a way to work the cap and land George, it's Golden State.