The Golden State Warriors have contingency plans in place if they aren’t able to land Kevin Durant, but their main priority is him. That is forcing them to essentially sit out the first few days of free agency while other free agents get swooped by rival teams.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Warriors, because they’ve done their due diligence and realized that Durant would improve their team more profoundly than any second-tier free agent would at this stage.
As much as losing the Finals after being up 3-1 inspires the most impulsive of decisions regarding roster orchestration, it’s important to keep in mind that this is still the same squad that won 73 games during the regular season, battled through injuries and suspensions to get within one game of back-to-back-championships, and were actually tied with one minute to go in game 7. It would be a shame if the Warriors were to drastically alter a roster whose only really fault was just going cold at the worst possible time.
Durant is too intriguing to not go all in for, though. He’s perhaps the most dynamic scorer the NBA has seen in the past decade. He has been in the league for 9 seasons, and has lead the NBA in points per game in 4 of those seasons.
The possibilities of adding him to a 73 win core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala (assuming Andrew Bogut gets trade to clear cap space) are too enticing to pass up.
Spending money for the sake of spending money tends to set back teams indefinitely with questionable deals that look terrible in hindsight. The Warriors may miss out on free agents as they wait for Durant, but sometimes the best money spent is the pile that isn’t spend at all.
Durant is meeting with the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs today, and each can offer Durant intriguing places to take his talents.
Boston is flush with both cap space and future high draft picks. Combine that with a star point guard in Isaiah Thomas, their place as maybe the NBA’s most storied franchise, and an easier Eastern Conference playoff picture to navigate through, and Durant could pick Boston without too much shock from onlookers.
San Antonio is in a similar situation to the Warriors, where they’d likely have to move some contracts to free up more space for Durant. The most obvious candidate is Danny Green, who is owed $10 million for next season, but the combination of Boris Diaw and Patty Mills also represents $10 million. Moving either Green or the Diaw/Mills combo puts them well over $20 million in cap space.
The Spurs like to keep free-agent presentations short and wrapped up this AM's visit with Kevin Durant in less than two hours, sources say
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 2, 2016
Durant joining forces with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge in San Antonio would give the Spurs possibly the best trio in the NBA. Combine that with being coached by the well-respected Gregg Popovich and joining a franchise that has won 5 championships in the recent past would catapult the Spurs back to the top of the Western Conference power rankings.
The Warriors can only sit back and hope that Durant doesn’t choose another team, particularly one in the Western Conference. Durant’s choice would represent a huge power shift if he were to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder.
If the Spurs or Los Angeles Clippers were to land him, they’d threaten the Warriors as the premier team in the Western Conference. If the Warriors get Durant, though, the league had better watch out for the damage that the Warriors squad could do with that much talent on the court at the same time.