Once Kevin Durant decided to leave the Warriors for the Nets, Golden State elected to acquire D'Angelo Russell from Brooklyn in a "sign-and-trade" transaction.
As a result, the Dubs find themselves in a "hard cap" situation this season, which means they cannot -- under any circumstance -- have their payroll go above $138,928,000.
When you add up the salaries of the 13 guaranteed contracts -- plus Alfonzo McKinnie's non-guaranteed deal and Shaun Livingston's $666,667 cap hit -- you get a total of ... $138,520,743.
That puts the Warriors $407,257 below the hard cap. A minimum contract counts for more than that on the books, which is why the Dubs have an open roster spot and can't sign anybody ... yet.
As Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes:
Assuming the Warriors can stay $407,257 below the hard cap, they could add a 15th guy on a minimum deal on March 3. Deals signed at various points of the season are pro-rated.
The season is 177 days long. Each day that passes, the minimum counts 1/177th less against the cap or — again, credit the assist to Nate Duncan — a reduction of $9,156 per day. On March 3, that pro-rated minimum cap hit would be reduced to $402,852, finally putting it in a usable range for the Warriors.
A lot can change between now and March 3, but the Warriors do not have much flexibility at all when it comes to tweaking the roster over the next five months.
Injuries to Willie Cauley-Stein, Kevon Looney and Alen Smailagic are making matters worse, and complicating things for management.
This is why coach Steve Kerr told reporters this after Golden State's 123-101 exhibition loss to the Lakers on Saturday night:
"It's impossible right now to figure out what's what with our injury situation and our cap situation. I'm happy to be coaching and not being a GM because there's a lot of minutiae in the CBA and I'm not exactly sure how it all plays out."
But the main takeaway here is that when you ponder who the Dubs might sign with roster spot No. 15 later in the season, remember that March 3 is the key date.