The 2019 NBA playoffs have been dominated by Kevin Durant. He is averaging 35 points per game and is a big reason why the Golden State Warriors have been successful so far. They are relying on Durant to carry them to the NBA Finals but what will they do if Durant doesn’t choose to return after this season?
Durant’s future has been a big discussion throughout the season and now you see why. His epic playoff run so far has already made everyone realize how important he is to the Warriors. Without him, they would probably have lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. So how can the Warriors prevent Durant from leaving?
They can’t. Durant has all the power and he will definitely explore his options this summer. If money is the motivation for Durant, Golden State can pay Durant but at a price. If they want to resign Durant to a max contract, the Warriors will have to offer Klay Thompson less money and that might make him sign elsewhere. Choosing Durant over Thompson is an easy decision but it isn’t for the Warriors.
Thompson is beloved by the team and Warriors fans. If he doesn’t resign, many people will be furious and it may ruin the team chemistry. Letting Thompson go will also hurt the Warriors offense because Thompson’s catch and shoot is a big part of the offense.
Another factor that will come into play is Durant’s legacy and it is a tricky situation. With the Warriors, Durant has the best chance of winning a championship. That may not be true come next year but let’s assume it is. The problem that Durant will face is that he won’t be given the respect that he wants. He may lead the Warriors in scoring and is the one that will carry them to a championship but people will say he had to join the Warriors to win it. I will be the first one to say that Durant is the reason the Warriors are still winning championships and he deserves all the credit but not everyone sees this situation with rationality.
So Durant may need to leave and win a championship with another team to get the respect he deserves. That doesn’t help the Warriors but everyone wants to break up the Warriors so that narrative is serving its purpose. Lastly, I think the result of this year’s playoffs might be the last determining factor.
If the Warriors win, I believe that Durant will definitely leave. He would feel like he fulfilled his purpose and restart his goal with another team. If the Warriors lose, he may feel like redeeming himself and resign for a year or two. Either situation is bad for the Warriors because losing a championship to maybe get Durant to resign doesn’t sound like a good trade-off.
After watching Durant in the playoffs, we are reminded how good he is and can be when he wants to be. He is unstoppable and can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. His 26 points in the regular season was great but it was overshadowed by more dominant stats. But now we realize Durant chose not to score 30 something points because he can if he wants to and whichever team signs him next year will know his true worth come playoff time. Whether or not that team is the Warriors is something we will find out in the summer.