Rumor: Kevin Durant could sign with Warriors

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The Warriors are 30-2 and atop the NBA world.

They could get even better next season.

Golden State didn’t extend the contracts of Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, and the salary cap is skyrocketing. Those factors will give the Warriors plenty of flexibility.

They might use it to try signing Kevin Durant.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

At this point, everything is speculation.

When you talk to some executives, a name that has been thrown will shock people – Golden State.

Now, this is not something coming out Durant’s camp.

There are those around the league that think Golden State is a possibility.

Klay Thompson‘s dad, Mychal Thompson, said last spring the Warriors would pursue Durant. Perhaps, that alone has driven the speculation Durant could sign with Golden State. Or maybe the executives Broussard cites have additional information.

Either way, it certainly seems possible.

The Warriors have eight players under contract for next season: Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut,Andre Iguodala,Stephen Curry,Jason Thompson,Shaun Livingston andKevon Looney. Add a first-round pick (which we’ll pencil in at No. 30) and roster charges, and that’s a team salary of $84,501,199.

With a projected salary cap of about $90 million and Durant’s max starting  salary around $30 million, that won’t cut it.

Livingston ($3 million guaranteed) and Jason Thompson ($2.65 million guaranteed) have partially guaranteed contracts. But waiving those two would still leave significant outlays on the books. Golden State would probably need to trade those two and Bogut to clear enough cap space to sign Durant outright.

If they trade Bogut, Livingston, Jason Thompson and their first-round pick without taking any salary in return and renounce all their free agents, the Warriors would likely have about enough cap room to offer Durant the max (though it’s close enough that it depends exactly where the cap lands).

That’d leave a stripped-down roster of Durant, Curry, Green, Klay Thompson and Iguodala, but that’d be an incredible lineup. Golden State would happily start there and figure out the depth and center questions later.

The Warriors could also try swapping Barnes for Durant in a dual sign-and-trade. That’d trigger a hard cap, but that’s the least of the complications. Durant, Barnes and the Thunder would all have to agree. But at least that route could allow Golden State to re-sign Festus Ezeli.

If the Warriors want to keep Barnes while adding Durant, they could ask Oklahoma City how many draft picks they’d have to attach to a sign-and-trade package of Bogut, Jason Thompson and Livingston. Again, that’d leave Golden State hard-capped, but it’d at least be possible – depending on the exact luxury-tax line – to re-sign Barnes.

The Warriors have been down this road before. They made a strong impression on Dwight Howard in 2013, when they didn’t come close to having enough cap space to sign him. They ended up trading substantial salary to the Jazz and signing Andre Iguodala.

Golden State has the ambition necessary to make this happen.

But that’s a long way from saying Durant is interested, and that’s really what matters most.