If Kevin Durant wants to leave…
The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of what has been a somewhat disappointing season for the two-time defending NBA champs. On pace to win just 54 games, there’s been internal issues between star forwards Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
The backdrop is real here. KD is set to hit free agency this coming summer after earning each of the past two NBA Finals MVP awards. There’s certainly no guarantee that Durant will be back with the Warriors next season.
Sure Golden State would love to have one of the planet’s best players return. But there are a few reasons why the team should consider moving on from him.
Here are five of those reasons.
Keeps championship core together
People have short memories. Those on the national stage seemingly forgot that these Warriors won the NBA title in dominating fashion back in 2014-15. This is the season that saw the likes of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson become household names — en route to seeing the Warriors win 67 regular-season games and lose just five playoff outings.
The following season saw Golden State win an NBA record 73 games. The team’s championship aspirations were cut short in Game 7 of the Finals against LeBron James and the Cavaliers after Green was suspended for an outing and with Curry dealing with injury. Who here doesn’t think the Warriors can contend for a title with this trio returning to earlier form? It’s certainly something to consider.
Helps retain DeMarcus Cousins
We already know that the Warriors can offer Cousins far less than other team in free agency. Even after he suffered a torn Achilles with New Orleans last season, it was a shock to see the All-Star center take the mid-level exception from Golden State. Now set to return from injury here soon, it’s being reported that Cousins will consider signing another smallish deal to remain in Golden State.
The dynamic here is rather interesting. Golden State can retain Cousins, Durant and Thompson this offseason. The team’s brass has made it clear that the financials are no big deal. But the idea of Cousins being the No. 2 option behind Curry has to be appealing. It would give the Warriors an inside-out game the team has not boasted since the start of their current dynasty. A healthy Cousins and Curry together would make for one hack of a duo.
It is still is Stephen Curry’s team
Warriors fans are certainly thankful for Durant and what he’s been able to accomplish since joining the team. Winning two consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards is nothing to sneeze at. Durant remains one of the top-two players in the NBA with King James. There’s little doubting just how much he means to the Warriors.
With all of that said, Durant will never be on the same level as Stephen Curry in the Bay Area. Back in 2009, Curry joined a true laughingstock of an organization that had made the playoffs just one time in the past 16 years. With his game-changing ability and leadership tendencies, Golden State turned it around. Curry was the true catalyst for said turnaround. And now with the team set to relocate to San Francisco, he remains the face of the Warriors’ franchise — not Kevin Durant.
Warriors brand of basketball remains alive
One of the biggest issues during a somewhat pedestrian first half of the 2018-19 campaign has been Golden State’s decision to go iso ball with Durant late in games. It changes the entire make up of this team’s offense. The Warriors’ pace slows down. Their ability to dish out assists crumbles. The entire offense just becomes a cluster mess.
Sure this wasn’t a problem in Durant’s first two seasons in Northern California. We’re not exactly too sure what’s happened thus far during the 2018-19 campaign. What we do know is that the status quo is not sustainable. The Warriors are nearly unbeatable when they swing the ball around on offense and dish out 30-plus assists. That has not happened much this season. It’s also led to some issues with staggering minutes between KD and Curry. If Durant were to exit this coming offseason, this wouldn’t be an issue moving forward.
Helps avoid massive luxury tax hit
If the Warriors somehow hang on to their entire core long term — Durant, Thompson and Green included — it will cost the team’s ownership group north of $400 million on an annual basis. That would represent the largest payroll in North American sports history. Sure the owners are seemingly willing to dole out the cash. And in no way is this a concern for Warriors fans. It’s not their money.
Though, these Warriors are moving into a brand-new state of the art arena in San Francisco next season. Ticket prices are already going to be through the roof — pricing out the true Oakland diehards in the process. Add in a record payroll, and those who rooted for these Warriors during their lean years will be completely priced out as the Chase Center. That’s no small thing.