EruditeWarrior: Why trade for Ben Simmons when he can just be added in 2025?
How Steph Curry being the highest-paid player led to this epiphany
Before we reveal our Ben Simmons hot take… Looks like my sources came through [13th paragraph of that link] this morning, as it was confirmed Kris Weems will take over Aaron Miles’ previous position of player development coach with the Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile, Seth Cooper will become the Santa Cruz G League head coach, which I predicted about a month ago on our Discord server, which btw comes free with all paid subscriptions to this website ($5/mo or $50/year):
I will follow up after this article with a deep dive (for subscribers only) into the hiring of Weems, how it transpired, and what might be happening coming up soon in terms of free agents with the Warriors before training camp officially starts on September 27th (insider alert 🚨).
Now, onto Ben Simmons… It all started when user “bawpli” on our Discord server posted that Stephen Curry would be the highest-paid player in the NBA next season at $47.5 million — congrats to Steph, btw, on signing that massive max extension that by 2022-23 will put that annual figure to over $50 million, something that up until now you’ve never seen before on a team’s salary cap table. As mentioned in the previous post [paywalled], even seeing Chris Paul’s $40+ million slot warranted a “👀” but now, it’ll be Curry’s $50 million that sure dwarfs a, say, $2.6M veteran’s minimum down at the bottom of the cap table or even Draymond Green’s $27 million for 2023-24.
Yeah, this was about a month ago, and shortly thereafter Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers commented on Curry’s extension as well:
Following that, again on our Discord, user “Leonad” added that Steph will be the highest-paid player for the next five years. But “Lepidoptery” (aka “Lepi”) chimed in to say maybe not, because if the cap spikes again as it did in 2016, we could see some wild contracts.
Lepi also found that each NBA team’s salary cap jumped from $70 to $94 million in the summer of 2016 which, with the departures of Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, allowed the Warriors to sign Kevin Durant [again, check out the previous article on him, for subscribers only].
And then Lepi dug up info on the NBA previously securing its nine-year, $24 billion, at $2.6 billion per year, rights deal with ESPN and Turner, a 180% increase from the previous deal, as well as CNBC’s report from long-time NBA beatwriter Jabari Young that the next deal in the summer of 2025 could be worth $75 billion at about $8 billion per year. Meanwhile, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and the Players’ Association is due up the season before that in 2024.
And so it follows that we can expect the salary cap to jump, probably more than the 34% between the aforementioned 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, assuming the timing of the new TV contract is correct. And we should expect that GSW co-owner Joe Lacob knows this.
When KD the superstar signed with Golden State in 2016, that was after his standard three-year rookie deal, plus the OKC Thunder’s option on the fourth year, plus a max extension of five years. In other words, Durant was a superstar with nine years of NBA service when he joined the Warriors as a free agent.
So who might be a similar superstar nine-year veteran in the summer of 2025, a free agent that the Dubs can simply add a la KD 2016, assume the cap spikes upward?
For that we check the 2016 NBA Draft. On our Discord, “rpadillajr” quickly looked it up: There’s Jaylen Brown. There’s Pascal Siakam. There’s Brandon Ingram. Oh, and #drumroll there’s one Ben Simmons!
And so today, we talk about how Simmons doesn’t have a jumper and would probably have to play the 5. Why bother with all that speculation when we can wait until 2025 and see if there’s a superstar version of this guy?
Incidentally, I did report a confirmation [paywalled] among other exclusive NBA summer free agency tidbits that Simmons was not getting along with Joel Embiid and, not surprisingly, probably could not continue to co-exist together, as a result of some talks I had with NBA insiders at Summer League in Las Vegas last month.
Alright, let’s step off the “gross speculation of future 2025 Ben Simmons and associated roster moves” ledge for a second. Let’s drop out of warp speed and come back to 2021 for a moment.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that a trade between GSW and the Philadelphia 76ers to land Simmons in San Francisco this year has a super-low probability of happening, despite what the Vegas odds-makers will tell you. If you’ve seen enough cap tables and hung around the team for the past couple years, you know that Curry, Klay Thompson and Green are virtually untrade-able [again, the previous article established Dray as such].
That only leaves the “albatross” (aka “negative value”) contract of Andrew Wiggins as a possibility to match salaries with Simmons in order for a theoretical trade to happen. The problem with that is the Sixers general manager happens to be Daryl Morey, a brash personality whose ego probably would get in the way of acquiring said negative value contract.
When I brought this up with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami, it led him to conclude that Green is the only trade piece the Warriors would be pitched by Morey:
Note: I only have Warriors beatwriters such as Kawakami (plus a few credible national NBA news-breakers such as Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, Marc Stein and Chris Haynes) on my Twitter set to notifications, otherwise I hardly ever check that app. I don’t have time in my day anymore to be exposed to so much outrage, which quite frankly leads to irrational takes. Which is why Twitter has become primarily a place of entertainment and not information (outside of GSW beatwriters and Woj, Shams, Stein and Haynes, of course).
The emotion of Twitter gets in the way of the bottom-line task of sorting through the latest facts and forming conclusions based on those facts. And that’s why I often criticize people on that app for “drinking the Kool-Aid” that aggregators and “klout”-seekers offer in their takes, which are designed to incite a reaction, to try and make a tweet go viral, which at the end of the day is entertainment and not actual information. A lot of “casual” fans cannot tell the difference and end up being grossly misinformed, being exposed to a daily diet of this stuff.
“TK” eventually wrote that he doesn’t see any deal for Simmons happening because Morey’s ego won’t allow him to possibly lose again to the Warriors, after two heart-breaking deep playoff eliminations to them as the Houston Rockets’ GM in 2018 and 2019. Even if you throw in James Wiseman in a hypothetical Simmons trade, there’s no guarantee that the Sixers will have gotten the better of the deal, and that is not on-brand for Morey.
However, I simply maintain that Bob will not trade Dray, therefore that only leaves Wiggs’ contract available for Ben’s, and Morey will not acquire that because it is basically a bad look for him to do so. Either usage of cap mathematics combined with common sense knowledge of Morey still ends up with Ben Simmons not becoming a Warrior.
Discord user “rpadillajr” said it best: “Forcing trades for players doesn’t make sense unless that player is a proven winner and adds something to our roster that we don’t currently have.”
So, why bother on 2021? If 2025 Ben turns out to be a winner (with a jumpshot, presumably), then we just woo him over to The Bay. And this time, we probably wouldn’t have to send Steph, Klay, Dray — and Jonathan Kuminga and Wiseman? — to the Hamptons. Maybe by then, “JK” will have a yacht (captained by Klay, of course) and Ben can come aboard there for the free agent pitch!
Of course, the “2025 Ben” hot take is subject to our Discord server discussion’s correctness on the CBA, the new TV deal, and the salary cap, with the elephant in the room: Simmons actually improving into a superstar winner by Year Nine. The best part is, there’s no need to throw anyone under the bus right now because nothing matters until 2025.
Stop throwing Wiggs under the bus!
I always reluctantly slap the “albatross” and “negative value” labels on Wiggins. Usually it’s just to throw the gauntlet down when trying to explain to Kool-Aid-drinking casual fans why trades for big names probably won’t happen (Lacob even said as much in an interview with The Athletic, recently).
When you’ve become part of the NBA community, when the trainers of 450 of the planet’s top roundball players call you by your first name, there’s some camaraderie built, just like I’ve always had with participants in every men’s league I’ve organized since 2002. When you hang out in basketball gyms, you sort of get a knack for how to not throw people under the bus. This becomes even more prevalent when those are gyms utilized by NBA players for their workouts.
I credit former Warriors assistant Luke Loucks for giving me the epiphany on that. One time when the Warriors went to a Seattle Seahawks practice the day before a preseason game at Key Arena, there was a short Instagram Stories video of someone on the Dubs throwing a dart of a football pass to a GSW teammate, who couldn’t corral the catch for a touchdown. The Warriors had a lot of fun with the video, joking around that the guy blew a touchdown reception or something to that effect. The receiver was too far away and obscured in the clip for anyone to see who it was.
Later, while we were at a morning shootaround, I asked Loucks who muffed the catch and he wouldn’t give me the name, even though it would’ve been a fun moment to joke about, maybe even with the guy who actually dropped the pass. You know, all in good fun, roasting our homie type of stuff.
I think Luke literally used the words, “We don’t throw people under the bus around here,” in his response to me.
Anyways, back to Wiggins. Again on our Discord server [you guys really should join!], user “jonah” noticed one ranking of small forwards that had Wiggins at 16th in the league, but also noticed that the only ones not at or near a maximum contract and currently earning roughly the same money are Jerami Grant, Norman Powell, and Gordon Hayward. In addition, Michael Porter, Jr. and Mikal Bridges are still on rookie contracts. Defense seemed to not be part of the equation in ranking Wiggins in the bottom half of the NBA’s wings.
With the small forward position still in high demand, “jonah” believed Wiggins will still earn near-max money with his next contract, whomever that may be with. Meanwhile, our website contributor “Dulow” considered Wiggins the 11th-best small forward in the Association, although he is being paid as if he were Top-Four.
Someone on our Discord also pointed out that Wiggins had been the subject of some intense hate for at least a week or two or more on #WarriorsTwitter (and it may still be ongoing), as the void of Dubs news during this lull between Summer League and training camp has left users of the app piling onto the Ben Simmons rumors. But locally it’s been with outrage over Wiggs under-performing his max contract, which btw was originally given to him by a struggling franchise — it’s not really Andrew’s fault he’s being paid so much for what he brings on-the-court as a Warrior.
I think we’re beating a dead horse with the Wiggins slander. In life, there’s a thin line between love and hate, a thin line between half-glass-full and half-glass-empty. Even in the Star Wars universe, there’s a thin line between the Dark Side Of The Force and not succumbing to it. I think it’s time for overall enjoyment and appreciation of the game of basketball to make a comeback. If short shorts can do it at the micro level, why can’t positivity at the macro?
Of course, turning the tide on an app well-established for its ease of use, wide audience, lack of consequences, negativity, fear-mongering, and disinformation is probably a lost cause. And so we’re back to the LGW triumvirate: this website, our Discord, and our YouTube channel. Hope to see you on the other two platforms! 🙏
Below again is the Wiggins appreciation video I made, based on his Team Canada performance. The accompanying article is here.
Doing these long forms is just not my forte. They take too long to think through and proofread over and over. Especially when we head into training camp and there’s new content every day, I think the articles on this website will become more frequent, but have less words each. I’m still feeling my way through it.
Good thing idc and can’t really care what time of day or what day these are published. I’m just glad no one will be pissed off at me anymore for sending this out at 8p on a Friday night (11p Eastern time). We are really going to buck tradition and well-established publishing rules here this year.
I almost have no choice, though. Right now, I have news to break that coincides with the Weems/Cooper details and it really can’t wait, so I need to post this Ben Simmons one first so we maintain our one-free-one-paywalled rhythm on this Substack. From what I can tell, most of you don’t check your email at any set time, and hence this website, until some time has passed anyways.
Again, we’re gonna be different. Way different.
Here’s an update of the stuff that will take us to the beginning of training camp:
✅ Myers breakdown from free agency Zoom call
🔲 NBA Draft experience with DubNation at Barclays
✅ Wiseman’s presence and support (Sacramento report)
🔲 Why Kent Bazemore left (surprisingly)*
✅ The whole Ben Simmons Kool-Aid
🔲 Shaun Livingston’s reaction to Iguodala’s return*
✅ Draymond’s camp’s reaction to the Durant stuff*
🔲 JaQuori McLaughlin scouting report mixed in with Weems, free agency
🔲 What happened to all the Kuminga Draft angst? (Or maybe a JK comprehensive hot takes piece)
🔲 Moses Moody comprehensive hot takes (maybe)
🔲 How LGW will celebrate Klay’s return including fan interaction
Nice work. I admit, I was a Wiggins hater when he played with MIN. "Doesn't play defense, what a bum." But when Bob pulled off the Russell for Wiggins + top-3 protected 2021 pick trade, I saw it for what it was: a midday carjacking on Market Street. By positional, it was a tremendous upgrade. His defense couldn't be worse than Russel's. He was the new flag-bearer of the Durant max salary slot. I withheld judgment on Wiggs because I am a firm believer in Warrior's culture and what it could do for a disenchanted player. Viola! Turns out Wiggs is solid.
Many people still complain about his salary still, but I try to explain it this way. The Warriors had zero draft capital from 2013-2018. They were picking up scraps. Let's say Wiggs real value is 10m less than what he gets. Add up the extra you are paying him above his real value, all years, add the Salary Tax, and say you arrive at $100k. For a Franchise like the Warriors, who haven't a chance to draft a promising young star because they were dumpster diving for talent for 7 straight years, would you pay $100m to obtain the draft rights to one Jonathon Kuminga. Yes, Wiggins has been a placeholder for that max money slot and could have been traded. But you just have to look at the high payroll cost for Wiggins as the vehicle that brought you Kuminga.
And if Kuminga develops quickly, it may lead to him replacing Wiggs on the roster in a couple of years, and now you have a player maybe as good as Wiggs, and the extra money you paid up front carrying Wiggs you get back because your new small froward is still on a rookie deal.
We won't know the final score on that Russel trade until a few years out when we see how well Kuminga develops. But trades don't simply come and go. Some trades can have lasting impacts that takes years to realize.
Personally, I hope Wiggs remains, but he is in line for one more big contract and that just doesn't seem feasible with Steph-Klay-Dray still under contract after 2 more years. I am definitely interested to know how it pans out, if the Wiggs trade ends up including Wiggin's own replacement (Kuminga), thus making 2-way Wiggs a solid 3.5 yr bridge between where they were and where they are going.
2025 when steph is 37? . Lets just assume steph will play till he is 500 then