Could playoff run be the glue to keep Warriors together?

NBA opening night: Nets-Warriors
Apr 26, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Kevin Durant (35) react in the first half of game six of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the LA Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a certain humble feeling around NBA circles that suggests Kevin Durant might not depart the Golden State Warriors in free agency.

It’s an unspoken feeling. After months of speculation that Durant’s third season in Northern California might be his last, the Warriors’ current run to a potential three-peat could very well change this.

Durant himself has not shied away from noting just how much fun he’s having with Golden State since the playoffs started.

“This is where this s–t is fun, this is when it’s serious and I’m just embracing it,” Durant told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports after Tuesday’s Game 2 win over the Houston Rockets. “I’m just having so much fun right now. This time of year is what I’m geared for.”

This is a complete reversal from a regular season that saw Durant spar with both teammates and the media. His tone has changed. The games matter. And in this, his performance on the court has been taken to a whole new level.

Durant is averaging an NBA-best 34.3 points on 53 percent shooting from the court in the playoffs. He’s having more fun. Up 2-0 against Houston in the Western Conference Semifinals, it appears that the Warriors as a team are having the most fun since last year’s NBA Finals sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Could this mean that Durant’s departure from the Warriors isn’t as much of a foregone conclusion as it seems?

Second fiddle: Narrative surrounding Durant and Stephen Curry is changing.

  • Prior to this year’s playoff run, it was Durant who stepped up big time in the postseason. He’s the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP for a reason.
  • This has not changed during the 2018-19 NBA Playoffs. Just look at the past few games as a case study. Durant is averaging 38.3 points over the past six outings. Curry? He’s averaging less than 20 points during that span.
  • The idea that KD plays second fiddle is limited to the Bay Area fan base. On the court, he’s been as crucial to the Warriors’ recent success as Curry. His first three playoff runs prove this to a T.

What drama: We’re not seeing the same drama in Oakland as we saw before.

  • Remember that early-season clash between Durant and Draymond Green? Given the body language of the two, this seems like a distant memory.
  • Not only are Green and Durant getting a long, they seem to be genuine in having fun with one another.
  • Durant’s body language tells us this story. He’s smiled on the court more over the past handful of games than at any point throughout the season.

Winning cures all ills: If you don’t believe this, there’s a seaside property in Kansas for sale.

  • Let’s say Golden State wins a third consecutive title, it would be hard for Durant to depart this dynasty. The Warriors are moving into a new arena in San Francisco — one that KD is fond of.
  • Continued success on the court and within Silicon Valley off the court might just be too much for Durant to pass up on.
  • Look at it this way. How would Durant’s reputation take a hit if he left the Warriors to play for a fledgling team like the Knicks?
  • All the while, Curry and Co. are still contending for championships out west without Durant.

Durant refuses to talk about his impending free agency. He’s even got a bit upset when confronted with said free agency. Despite this, rumors continue to persist that he’s bolting Northern California.

The fact of that matter is that we have no idea what Durant’s plans are. He has yet to make a decision.

That’s why the remainder of this year’s playoffs will act as a huge determining factor in Durant’s ultimate decision.

More so than the Warriors potentially winning a fourth title in five years, another championship could lead to the greatest dynasty we’ve seen in the NBA since the Boston Celtics of the 1960s.

That’s where other teams must step up. The Warriors winning a title wouldn’t guarantee Durant’s return. But it would go a long way in making it happen.

Defeat Golden State before it wins another 10 games, and this changes dramatically.