Cavs, Warriors steep investments pay off; NBA Finals has Bucks/Wisconsin flair

Nobody can question the commitment to excellence by the ownership of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

Both ownership groups have dug deep into their pockets to pay an exorbitant price of having championship-caliber teams.

The Cavaliers and Warriors, who are competing in the NBA Finals, were the top two highest-spending franchises in the 30-team league.

According to sources with access to NBA team payrolls, the Cavs are shelling out $135.9 million for player talent this season. That is slightly more than the Warriors, whose payroll is $135.3 million.

The Cavaliers’ and Warriors’ payrolls far exceed the NBA’s luxury tax threshold of $119 million and, as such, both team will have to pay a penalty. Because the Cavs are a “repeat’’ luxury tax offender, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert will be writing out a hefty check for approximately $50 million to the NBA.

The only team that came remotely close to having a payroll as gaudy as the Cavaliers and Warriors is Oklahoma City, which has a player payroll of $132.9M.

The Washington Wizards were a “distant’’ fourth in payroll at $124 million, followed by Portland ($119.2M), the Los Angeles Clippers ($119.1M), Detroit Pistons ($118.8), New Orleans ($118.2M), Houston ($118.2M) and Charlotte ($117.2M).

Of the 10 highest payrolls in the NBA, only the Clippers, Detroit and Charlotte failed to make the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks had the 12th-highest payroll at $116.1 million. The Bucks posted a 44-38 regular season record – the 16th most wins the league – before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Boston.

Warriors, Cavs have familiar look

There are four former Bucks coaches in the Finals.

Golden State assistant coach Ron Adams was an assistant coach for the Bucks for five seasons and was on George Karl’s staff that advanced to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals, while Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue was a point guard for the Bucks during the 2008-2009 season. Also, Cavs assistants Larry Drew and Jim Boylan are former Bucks head coaches.

Another Cavs assistant coach, Damon Jones, had two stints as a Bucks player in 2003-2004 and 2008-2009.

Some other Bucks/Wisconsin connections in the Finals:

Kevon Looney, a Milwaukee Hamilton High School graduate, starts for the Warriors, while Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston, former Bucks, are reserves for the Warriors.

Larry Harris, a former Bucks general manager, is the Warriors’ assistant GM and player personnel director; Chris DeMarco, a graduate of Appleton Xavier High School who played collegiately at Madison Edgewood, is an assistant coach for the Warriors, and Brett Winkler, who was born and raised in Fond du Lac, is the Warriors’ director of public relations.

Harris makes his mark

Larry Harris, by the way, is in his 10th season with the Warriors, who have been to the Finals the last four seasons.

In a recent story written by Mark Medina, Warriors general manager Bob Myers acknowledged Harris’ role in the team’s amazing success.

“If you look at our track record, he’s been involved in all of it,” Myers said of Harris. “He’s been a great reason why we’ve had some success. He’s been a huge part of it. For me, I know without him, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

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