Report: If Kevin Durant leaves Thunder, Warriors leading candidate

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Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson — and Kevin Durant?

It sounds like a daily fantasy sports roster, or something you try to pull together with NBA 2K trades. However, it’s something the Warriors have been thinking about for some time as a possibility.

The smart money is still on Durant staying put with the Thunder when he becomes a free agent this summer (at least on a short deal). But if he changes his mind, the Warriors are at the front of a very long line, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The truth is that (the Warriors are) the most intriguing destination to him. If Durant leaves the Thunder, the Warriors are the significant frontrunners to sign him, league sources told The Vertical…

Make no mistake: Durant isn’t close to gone in Oklahoma City – no decision, no leaning, sources said – but the real threats on the summer market are beginning to reveal themselves. Durant is determined to win – to be an immediate championship contender at 27 years old – and that keeps bringing him back to the Warriors should he make the decision to leave Oklahoma City.

Durant has said he hasn’t even thought seriously about this summer, he’s focused on winning this season. No doubt there’s truth to that. But other teams have to start their planning now. And KD knows where he stands as of today.

Durant is at the legacy point in his career — he knows he needs rings to be thought of among the game’s all-time greats. It’s part of what lured LeBron James to Miami.

That need to win now makes the pitch from teams that would get an interview such as the Lakers and Knicks a hard sell. The Lakers, even with Durant, are a few years away from winning at best, plus there will be a coaching change and other organizational questions, and finally the Warriors and Spurs are still in that conference. The Knicks have a better foundation of players (with Kristaps Porzingis and Durant’s friend Carmelo Anthony), and they are in the East, but are they really in a better spot to win than the Thunder? Does that move get KD closer to a title? The same question is true for Washington, Houston, Miami, and every other suitor.

Except Golden State.

My guess is that this summer Durant signs a two-year extension with the Thunder that has an opt-out after one season — he stays put for one more season to see if OKC can win with this core, he also becomes a free agent in 2017 when the salary cap will be even higher (an estimated $108 million) and by the Durant will have 10 years in the league, so his max salary goes up. Durant makes a lot more money that way.

But a move to the Warriors this summer is possible. Not likely, but possible.

The Warriors would have a lot of salary cap dancing to do make this happen, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks lays out in another article at The Vertical. It involves trading Andre Iguodala, letting Harrison Barnes walk for nothing, and using the stretch provision to release Andrew Bogut, but it can be done.

If you’re Golden State — and especially if you win another title this June — you have to ask yourselves if breaking up this team after back-to-back titles is a smart move? It’s not a simple question.

But if the answer is Kevin Durant, the Warriors will make the moves.