In a matter of days, it feels like the Golden State Warriors‘ dynasty has already started crumbling.
Prior to Game 5 of the NBA Finals, it appeared as if the worst-case scenario the Warriors were facing was their possible defeat in the 2019 NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors. Trailing 3-1 in the NBA Finals was bad enough, but the Achilles’ injury suffered by Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson’s torn ACL, which should sideline him until February at the earliest, has now planted seeds of doubt.
The Warriors will now enter an offseason period where they not only have to try to re-sign the likes of Durant, Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins. They will enter the 2019-20 season knowing those injuries will leave them without both Durant and Thompson in the lineup even if they do re-sign with the franchise.
Following the Warriors’ 114-110 Game 6 loss to the Raptors, general manager Bob Myers was faced with many questions from reporters. But the most notable of which was whether he is confident that Durant will re-sign with Golden State.
Needless to say, Myers was unsure whether or not returning to the Bay Area to continue his career is what Durant wants to do in the end.
“I don’t know,” Myers replied before going on to describe all the qualities he admires about Durant. “What more could we ask for from him? He’s been everything to us. The guy has been everything we could have ever dreamed. Been an awesome member of this organization. There’s so much stuff he does in the community that probably doesn’t get as many headlines. The things he’s done in D.C., his foundation. How he kind of lives his life. Like I said, we’re lucky to have been around him. Hopefully, we can keep doing that.”
The fact that Myers is so uncertain as to what Durant’s dive into free agency will hold is not surprising considering team owner Joe Lacob echoed a similar sentiment following the Warriors’ Game 6 loss regarding Durant’s potential return — or exit.
Durant has several options in free agency — he can choose to opt in with the Warriors on a $31.5 million salary for the 2019-20 season, he can re-sign a new long-term deal with Golden State or he can leave. The Warriors have the leverage when it pertains to a new contract given that they can re-sign Durant to a five-year deal north of $200 million. Any other team that signs Durant would only be able to give him a four-year deal worth $164 million.
While it seemed definite a few days ago that the Warriors would re-sign both Durant and Thompson while giving them both max contracts, they’ll have to re-think that philosophy as Golden State will enter the 2019-20 season as non-title favorites for the first time in years.
More importantly, we’ll find out real soon whether Durant wants to return to Golden State to finish his career off there on a winning note or if he wants the new challenge of signing with another team in hopes of leading his own franchise to the championship.
These are all questions that will be answered at the beginning of free agency in July.