The Golden State Warriors brass have made it clear they like the roster they have but staying “lightyears ahead” of the competition, as owner Joe Lacob once described the franchise, means never leaving good enough alone.
The Warriors were good enough last season to win a fourth title in eight years. They were also good enough to earn back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2015-16 and win a championship, but that didn’t stop them from signing Kevin Durant and creating arguably the best team in the history of the sport. So what’s different now?
Clearly, some things have changed. Everyone is older, everyone commands more money, but the championship window in Golden State remains wide open, and the franchise’s stalwart trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remain in Warriors uniforms.
The Dubs appear to be thinking more about the future, while also caring deeply about the present, than perhaps was necessary when they acquired Durant the first time around six years ago. That philosophical shift has led to a protective position on young assets like James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga, which is what initially shut down the notion of the Dubs doing a deal for Durant earlier this summer.
But the door to Durant has been kicked violently ajar once again by the player himself, following a meeting with Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai over the weekend. The details of that interaction may have lit a fire under New York City’s second franchise to move the 12-time All Star.
That isn’t to say that the Nets’ price for a generational player like Durant will suddenly drop off a cliff, but it could stumble enough that it’s worth it to the Warriors to at least inquire again about getting the old band back together.
The latest Warriors news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Warriors newsletter here!
Durant Gives Nets Owner Ultimatum, Opens New Trade Possibilities
Trade talk surrounding Durant had died down to a whisper until it was resurrected with a fury on Monday, August 8, by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“In a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai, Kevin Durant reiterated his trade request and informed Tsai that Tsai needs to choose between Durant or the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, sources say,” Charania tweeted.
In his story, Charania goes on to note that sources said Durant “does not have faith in the team’s direction.” The irony of that statement aside, as it was Durant whose hand was probably strongest on the steering wheel of the Nets’ franchise over the previous three years, the former Warriors’ superstar has clearly upped the ante in his strongest push yet to get clear of Brooklyn.
Warriors Among Teams Best Positioned to Deal For Durant
Regardless of what Durant might want, however, the two teams best positioned to give the Nets the kind of return they seek are the Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans. If the Warriors decide to take a swing, the cost will be steep. And it will hurt, both the organization’s future prospects and its current fan base, as they will have to say goodbye to multiple fan favorites.
What the deal would look like exactly is unclear. It would certainly include first-round draft compensation, probably more than one pick, which the Warriors can accomodate. It would also take young players, at least two from the group including Wiseman, Kuminga, Jordan Poole and Moses Moody.
And finally, Andrew Wiggins would have to be part of the deal to make the salaries matchup. Durant carries a $47.6 million cap hit in 2022-23, and Wiggins’ $33.6 million salary next season is the only contract the Dubs could use to get enough money up without moving Curry, Thompson or Green — all of whom would likely be non-starters if requested as part of a Durant trade.
The Warriors have acquiesced to the reality that they will probably be forced to part with at least one of Thompson, Green, Wiggins or Poole next offseason due to financial reasons. That departure will likely come as part of a trade so that Golden State doesn’t lose the asset for nothing.
There is something to be said then for the idea of moving two of them, likely Wiggins and Poole, for Durant and recycling last decade’s super team all over again.