The Golden State Warriors enter the new year with 30-2 record. They have won 97 of a possible 114 regular season games since the start of last year.
Why would a team with this embarrassment of riches and continuity even look to shake things up when the Summer of 2016 comes calling?
That’s the biggest question we have to ask ourselves as lukewarm suggestions that the team might be in play for Kevin Durant come up.
Though, these suggestions have not necessarily been few and far between.
The latest comes from ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who indicates Golden State is a viable possibility for the former NBA MVP:
“There are those around the league that think Golden State is a possibility.”
It must be noted that Broussard did say that this was only speculation. He also made sure to note these suggestions are not coming from Durant’s camp.
Though, this falls in line with a report from Sam Amick of Fox Sports this past July that indicated the Warriors are on Durant’s short list of potential suitors.
The defending champs have clearly made themselves a contender for Durant’s services. With the cap set to skyrocket this upcoming offseason, the possibility is surely here.
Current Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes turned down an extension offer prior to the start of the season. The two have since decided to hold off until after the year to discuss a potential long-term deal. Barnes is set to be a restricted free agent.
Meanwhile, Golden State does have some wiggle room when it comes to its roster. Both Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala are potential trade chips.
While there would be obvious concerns over Bogut’s injury-prone career, he’s proven to be a near All-NBA defender when healthy. As it relates to Iggy, he’s only the reigning NBA Finals MVP.
Of course, any acquisition by the Warriors of Durant would likely have to include a sign-and-trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder — meaning three different things would have to come together in order for it to work.
This came into play when the Warriors attempted to land Dwight Howard a couple years back.
Outside of that, and depending on how much the cap skyrockets, Golden State could potentially sign Durant outright.
That would require the team trading Bogut, Shaun Livingston and Jason Thompson while taking no guaranteed contracts in return — a scenario that would also force the Warriors to yield multiple first-round picks while playing a tricky game of chance with their depth.
It would, however, enable the Warriors to retain Iguodala.
The interesting dynamic in play here is Barnes. If the Warriors were able to land Durant prior to Barnes making a decision on his restricted free agent status, they could then go over the luxury tax and hard cap by signing the former first-round pick to a near-max deal.
In reality, this would be the best possible scenario. It would also include finding a way to match any offer potentially set to come the way of soon-to-be restricted free agent Festus Ezeli, who is considered the team’s center of the future.
Is this scenario a long shot? Sure. Golden State is already on the books for about $80 million in contracts for next season with five players set to earn $10-plus million.
This doesn’t even take into account the need to sign Stephen Curry to a contract extension. Remember, the reigning NBA MVP is the fourth highest-paid player on the team and is set to see his contract expire following the 2016-17 season.
There’s also a little something called continuity. Why change up what has been a roster that’s led the team to an historically good run? How would this change the dynamic in the locker room?
Heck, is there even enough basketballs to go around here? As good as Durant is an all-around force, would you rather have him shooting the ball in lieu of Curry and Thompson?
One thing we do know: Golden State’s ownership group is not afraid to spend the money and go over the tax line to build a championship contender.
As foreign as this might seem to a Warriors fan base that had dealt with a cheap ownership presence in the past, it is the reality we see today.
Any speculation leading to Durant joining the Warriors may very well become moot. After all, this franchise has proven itself to be one of the best in professional sports. It would likely take a tidal change of epic proportions for them to consider Durant.
Still, the fact that Golden State has been mentioned as a possibility and possesses the necessary assets to add someone of Durant’s ilk should be a scary thing for teams looking to knock the defending champs from its pedestal.