There was a wide range of reactions to the Warriors' trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves that brought Andrew Wiggins to Golden State, many of which insisted the Dubs had made an egregious error and set the franchise back in making the move to acquire the often-criticized small forward.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob couldn't disagree more.
"Anybody who can't see that this is a great deal for us, I don't know what they're thinking," Lacob told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami. "You can sit and talk about what his salary is, but [Wiggins] had the same salary as [Russell]. They're both good players. They're different players. You can question whether this is a better fit; we think it is, as much as I liked D-Lo. He's a really good player. And I think it's good for him, too.
"So it's a fair, good thing for both teams."
So many of the negative reactions to the trade concerned Wiggins' contract, which has another three seasons and nearly $95 million remaining on it. Lacob insisted, however, that Golden State is focusing on how Wiggins fits in with the already-established core, rather than how he impacts the team's salary.
"I don't really think about that number," Lacob said. "That's really not the point. The point is that we have a small forward that we absolutely can depend on and fits really well with Steph [Curry], Klay [Thompson], Draymond [Green] and our team. That's what really matters."
In addition to dealing the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III in two separate trades with the Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers, the Warriors also included Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman along with Russell in the trade for Wiggins -- all in a successful attempt to duck below the luxury-tax line. As such, Golden State won't be subject to the repeater tax penalty this coming offseason, which will allow the Warriors to bring in much higher salaries than they would have been able to otherwise as they attempt to get back to championship-contender status.
Lacob not only suggested that Golden State will take advantage of those non-repeater benefits, but also offered some additional motivation as to why.
"Our payroll right now, right now, is well over $200 [million] for next year [including luxury-tax penalties]," Lacob explained. "People don't do the math to understand it. We know what it's going to be. It's going to be the highest payroll we've ever had next year. We know that. The question is how high. If there's a trade-exception [deal] that we really want, that's worth it, let's consider it. Mid-level exception? Very likely to use.
"The first pick in the draft, if we were to get that? With luxury tax, [that contract would be] huge. Really, the emphasis is on next year. The next two years, our window -- Steph's last two years under contract, before we hopefully bring him back again -- we need to field the best possible team we can. That was the emphasis."
The Warriors know what they have in Curry, Thompson and Green, and obviously they're hoping Wiggins can become part of a fearsome foursome. Add in a gigantic trade exception, the full use of the mid-level exception and what should be a top-three draft pick, and Golden State could turn this thing around in a hurry.