Where do the Warriors go after brutal NBA Finals injuries?

By Vincent Frank
un 2, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr talks with forward Draymond Green (23) after he was called for a foul against the Toronto Raptors during the second quarter in game two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If you were to ask each member of the Golden State Warriors, losing the NBA Finals doesn’t compare to the injuries they saw over the final two games of the series.

An otherwise dramatic Game 5 win saw star forward Kevin Durant suffer a ruptured Achilles. This came after Durant returned, potentially prematurely, from suffering a calf injury a month-plus earlier.

Then, with the Warriors’ backs against the wall in Game 6 against the Raptors, Klay Thompson poured in 30 points in 32 minutes.

Those final two points are most notable in that they come after Thompson suffered what is now reported to be a torn ACL.

Golden State may have lost the NBA Finals. But this team lost a whole lot more than that. Where do the Warriors go from here? It’s certainly a question on the minds of many.

Futures of Thompson and Durant: This is now completely up in the air.

  • We had no idea if Durant was going to re-sign with the Warriors in free agency. We still don’t know how his ruptured Achilles is going to impact KD’s decision.
  • Durant is now lost for the entire 2019-20 season. If he does re-sign with the Warriors, it will be a major injury risk for Golden State.
  • Thompson is different in that he was always likely to return to Golden State. That has not changed.
  • The stud guard will likely now be out until after the All-Star break. It all depends on surgery and his recovery process.

The Warriors have limited options in this regard. They were going to offer Durant the super max with a potential player opt out (via a trade). Meanwhile, Thompson missed out on a super max because somehow he was not voted into an All-NBA team.

The contracts.

  • Kevin Durant: Five-years, $221 million.
  • Klay Thompson: Five-years, $190 million.

Let’s say Golden State decides to bite the bullet and offer these two max deals. That’s $411 million for a duo what might very well sit out next season.

The luxury tax: This is no small thing.

  • Golden State’s ownership group has made it clear that financials won’t impact their decision-making process.
  • Moving into the Chase Center in San Franciso, the Warriors are going to see a huge revenue increase.
  • Even then, the finances might change here with both Thompson and Durant having to recover from two of the most-serious injuries an NBA player can suffer.

Simply by just re-signing Durant and Thompson, Golden State’s tax total would be a whopping $65 million. This would bring the team’s entire payroll to $215.2 million in 2019-20.

These numbers don’t get any better moving forward. They would increase to $115 million and $281 million in 2020-2021 before reaching $143 and $322 million the following season.

Those are some absolutely ridiculous figures right now. With Durant and Thompson healthy, it’s something the Warriors’ brass would do without question. Now that both are suffering through serious injury, we can’t be too sure.

However. It’s Klay and Kevin. This can’t be lost on the Warriors.

These two left everything on the court. They were men among boys. Durant returning prematurely, only to suffer a ruptured Achilles weeks before free agency.

Klay valiantly sinking two free throws after suffering his injury, only to tell head coach Steve Kerr he’d be back in two minutes. Thompson did this after suffering what we now known to be a torn ACL.

This has to count for something. The Warriors have built their empire by changing what had previously been a toxic culture under the past ownership group.

It’s something Joe Lacob has talked about a great deal. They’ve followed up that talk with five consecutive NBA Finals appearances and three titles.

They’ve done so by becoming a model franchise around the Association. Even if it were to save countless millions, we can’t see this organization turning its back on Durant and Thompson.

Other financials: It’s not just about Klay and Durant.

  • Warriors All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins noted after the Finals that he’s open to re-signing with Golden State.
  • Coming off a one-year, $5.3 million mid-level deal, the Warriors can offer Cousins only a 25 percent pay raise.
  • Even then, the luxury tax plays a role here. Cousins’ $6.7 million deal would in fact cost the Warriors’ brass well north of $13 million.

Building something: With Thompson and Durant sidelined, there’s no easy answers.

  • Even if Golden State were to re-sign both, it would have hard time coming out of the Western Conference next season.
  • The Warriors’ depth was a major concern with both Durant and Thompson in the lineup.
  • Already over the luxury tax, bringing in viable free agents becomes an issue.
  • Golden State can use the mid-level exception to find a short-term replacement for Thompson while riding Andre Iguodala at small forward for one season.

If all the cards were to fall in Golden State’s favor this offseason, we’re still not looking at a viable championship contender.

Let’s say the big three consists of Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and DeMarcus Cousins. The Warriors would still have to fill out a bench with limited resources.

Losing Durant is one thing. Losing the lesser-known half of the Splash Brothers is a completely different story.

The end result: Bob Myers will have to get to work.

  • The Warriors general manager was already feeling the weight of these injuries mere minutes after Thursday’s loss.
  • That’s not going to change over the next couple weeks. Myers and his front office will have to get to work in short order.
  • It’s a tall task given the emotional attachment Myers must be feeling right now.

The best-case scenario is for Golden State to bite the bullet by offering Thompson and Durant max deals. Make a full-court press to re-sign DeMarcus Cousins in hopes that he returns 100 percent for next season.

From there, use $3.5 million in expenditures that’s allocated to Golden State in order to buy an early second-round pick. Draft well with that selection on the two picks Golden State already boasts.

The rest gets even trickier. Hope against hope that the lure of the new waterfront arena in San Francisco and five consecutive NBA Finals appearances entices a top free agent to take a mid-level deal.

It’s a lot to ask. The Warriors are reeling right now. And it’s not because of an NBA Finals loss. It’s about the injuries. The shaky foundation of the organization heading into a important summer.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s never to count out these Warriors.