A 73-win team adding a former MVP in his prime.
The Warriors will be an experiment for the ages.
Kevin Durant in The Players Tribune:
I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.
I’m from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me. It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.
It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.
Durant and Stephen Curry will give Golden State the last three MVPs, and Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are supporting stars other teams could only dream of. Not even the Heat’s vaunted big three — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — were this talented.
What an emphatic answer to LeBron leading the Cavaliers to a stunning upset of Golden State in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors instantly become favorites for 2017 (and 2018 and 2019 and…).
There will be an adjustment period as Golden State’s stars learn to play together. LeBron didn’t win a title his first season in Miami or back in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. But the Warriors will have more margin for error.
The ripple effects will be felt wide, starting in Oklahoma City, where this news must be just devastating. The Thunder are now Russell Westbrook‘s, and Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo start a decent supporting cast. Oklahoma City is no longer a legitimate championship contender, but the team can compete for the playoffs.
But do the Thunder want to go down that road? Without Durant, what chance do they have of re-signing Westbrook next summer? Westbrook instantly becomes the hottest name in trade talks.
The defending-champion Cavs aren’t going anywhere, and the Spurs are too far down the road of contending to stop now. Otherwise, teams might push back their timelines, fearing the NBA’s latest super team — though the Mavericks get a bump with Golden State no longer positioned to match Harrison Barnes‘ offer sheet.
That’s the first step in clearing cap space for Durant’s max contract. Dumping Andrew Bogut and renouncing all their major free agents would get the Warriors there. If Bogut is gone, Golden State might trade Shaun Livingston to keep Festus Ezeli‘s cap hold on the books. A starting center is more important than a backup point guard, even with Ezeli’s injury issues and Green seeing key minutes at center.
No matter how they handle the odds and ends, the Warriors won’t be deep next season. Cheap cap holds could allow them to retain some of their backend free agents: Brandon Rush, Leandro Barbosa, James Michael McAdoo, Ian Clark and Anderson Varejao. They’ll also have the $2,898,000 room exception. Otherwise, they’ll fill the roster with minimum deals — though ring-chasing veterans will be hungry to join this juggernaut.
Durant nearly upended the Warriors in the playoffs. Imagine what they can do with him.
Then, watch the electrifying reality unfold.