The Warriors beating the Thunder, losing the Cavaliers, signing Stephen Curry to a cheap contract extension years prior and seeing a massively escalating, unsmoothed salary cap all conspired to allow Golden State to sign Kevin Durant in 2016.
But the Warriors could have used their flexibility to pursue an even bigger free agent that year – LeBron James.
Tim Kawakami of The Athletic:
Of course the Warriors discussed it. They at least discuss pursuing every star. It’s what smart, ambitious teams do.
But Golden State was wise to focus on Durant, who was far more attainable. LeBron wasn’t leaving the Cavaliers after delivering Cleveland its first championship in decades. That would have tarnished a legacy-defining victory. And it’s not as if Durant is a big downgrade.
Maybe the Warriors could unite both next summer. LeBron is reportedly willing to meet with Golden State if it clears max cap space.
I still think that rumor is mostly about LeBron trying to pressure the Cavs into doing more to win this season. But this revelation about 2016 at least slightly hints the Warriors would be open to it, though it’s important to remember there’s a huge difference between shedding Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut rather than Klay Thompson or Draymond Green to clear cap space.