Warriors just won it all, and here's why they're built for even more NBA titles

Warriors just won it all, and here’s why they’re built for even more NBA titles

BOSTON — In the immediate afterglow of the Golden State Warriors’ championship-clinching win over the Celtics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, Jordan Poole did what many Gen Z’ers would do in his situation: He streamed the locker- room celebration on Instagram Live.

The most memorable segment was a 22-second clip in which Poole told teammate Andrew Wiggins, “You’re about to get a bag!” Index finger waving, Wiggins smiled and shot back, “You’re about to get a bag!”

Finally, with both players’ eyes locked, they danced as they proclaimed in unison: “We’re about to get a bag!” A voice off camera could be heard yelling, “We’re all about to get the bag!”

This joyous exchange reinforced the financial reality Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob now faces: A record-setting payroll is about to spike into a stratosphere bordering on the absurd. And given how much Lacob relishes championships, he is unlikely to complain. This is the cost of greatness.

Late Thursday, as players popped Champagne and reflected on the arduous journey here, they understood that there is plenty yet to achieve. Though their core of Stephen Curry (age 34), Klay Thompson (32) and Draymond Green (32) is in the latter half of its prime, the Warriors’ future might be as promising as their present.

That’s because they have done something few NBA teams have: Successfully groom the next generation while vying for a championship. Curry, Thompson and Green deserve the bulk of the credit for the franchise’s fourth title in eight years, but the Warriors wouldn’t have hoisted another Larry O’Brien trophy without their up-and-comers.

“You go to these last two years, and there’s conversations, narratives that we’re ‘too old,’” Curry said. “The parallel timelines of developing young guys and keeping our core together, all those tough decisions that we had to make, that weighs on you for as much time as we’re going through it.

“Then you get to a point where you’re in a playoff series against Denver, and then Memphis and then Dallas, and get to Boston, and it’s like, ‘We’re right here,’ and it’s surreal.”

Given that Wiggins — Golden State’s newest All-Star — just finished his eighth NBA season, it’s easy to forget that he is only 27. Poole, 22, looks like a franchise cornerstone — the type of high-scoring guard who could help lead the Warriors into the post-Curry era.

Though rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody were mostly relegated to mop-up duty in the playoffs, they flashed enough potential during the regular season to believe they are vital parts of the franchise’s long-term outlook. At 6-foot-7, 225 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan and 40-inch vertical leap, Kuminga, 19, is the rare athlete who can affect NBA games despite minimal knowledge of X’s and O’s.

Moody — who just turned 20 last month — doesn’t possess Kuminga’s physical tools, but he is an intriguing “3-and-D” wing whose basketball IQ belies his youth. Then there is James Wiseman. Though injuries have limited him to just 39 games over his first two NBA seasons, many within the organization remain adamant that he is destined for greatness.

There are only so many 7-footers who run like gazelles and knock down jumpers with ease, which is why Warriors executives can’t help but look forward to Summer League next month. In addition to watching more Kuminga and Moody, Golden State brass will get its most extended video of Wiseman in well more than a year.

This should provide important insight as the Warriors prepare to decide Oct. 31 whether to pick up Wiseman’s $12.1 million team option for the 2023-24 season. But regardless of how he fares in coming weeks, Golden State will likely keep him around for at least the next couple of years. The prospect of a future core of Poole, Kuminga, Moody and Wiseman is too enticing.

To even have such a possibility, the Warriors needed to make shrewd moves and capitalize on down years. Many of the same pundits who once called Poole a “reach” with the No. 28 pick of the 2019 draft now all him as a “star.” Long before the Warriors watched Kuminga average 14.8 points per game this past February, they acquired his draft rights in a blockbuster trade with Minnesota that also netted them Wiggins.

It would have been easy for Golden State to trade the picks that became Wiseman (No. 2 in 2020), Kuminga (No. 7 in 2021) and Moody (No. 14 in 2021) for proven rotation players, but the team insisted on following the Spurs’ blueprint for sustained success. That meant trying to balance short-term aims with long-term goals.

Thanks to the NBA salary cap, the Warriors are victims of their own greatness. Poole is expected to order a contract-extension offer this summer of around four years, $100 million. When Wiggins hits free agency in 2023, he could warrant another maximum contract of roughly $37 million a year.

Then there are the massive deals Golden State must still pay Curry, Thompson and Green, as well as the team options it is expected to pick up for Wiseman, Kuminga and Moody. To keep this roster relatively intact for several more years, the Warriors could stare down a payroll worth well north of $400 million in salary and luxury taxes.

A couple of months ago, the mere thought of such a lofty price tag would have made Lacob queasy. But championships have a way of changing owners’ bottom lines. As that voice off camera announced Thursday, almost everyone who mattered to this title run is poised to get the bag.

Letting a group this special break up would be much more upsetting than any check Lacob might have to write.

“This is the reason we play basketball, to change our families’ lives and compete at the highest level,” said Poole, who had 15 points in 18 minutes Thursday. “It’s truly remarkable to be around such a special group of guys.”

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Con_Chron

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