Kevin Durant may not have wanted a reunion. The Brooklyn Nets may not have really ever wanted to trade him anyway.
However, the Warriors had serious internal discussions about bringing Durant back to the Bay Area where he was central to two Golden State titles, Stephen Curry told Matt Sullivan of Rolling Stone. And Curry was all-in on the idea.
“I was never hesitant. The idea of playing with KD and knowing who he is as a person, from our history in those three years, I think KD’s a really good dude. I think he is misunderstood. I think he has had certain things happen in his life that hurt his ability to trust people around him, in a sense of making him feel safe at all times. So all of those things, I understand, having played with him and gotten to know him. I love that dude.
“And if you said, ‘Oh, KD’s coming back, and we’re gonna play with him,’ I had so much fun playing with him those three years, I’d be like, ‘Hell, yeah!’ Then you have to think: What does that actually mean? What does it look like? … And if anybody’s saying that you wouldn’t entertain that conversation — no disrespect to anybody on our team — but you don’t know how things work. But you also understand, like, if we run this thing back, I’ve got complete confidence in my team that we can win it again, as constructed.
“So, all those things were true. And it started with me wanting to play with KD at the beginning. Yeah, it’s about winning, it’s about having fun, playing the game of basketball. And that was part of the reaction of, like, ‘Yeah, it’d be amazing.’ What does that actually mean?”
It would have meant trading away depth and the future — the Warriors would have had to send out Andrew Wiggins (to balance salaries), Jonathan Kuminga, and another young player such as James Wiseman or Moses Moody, plus multiple first-round draft picks and pick swaps.
Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has been very public about his desire to build a team that can win now with a core of Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, while still building toward the future with Jordan Poole, Kuminga, Moody and more. To trade for Durant would have meant to give up on the future part of that equation and go all-in on winning the next couple of seasons with the 34-year-old Durant.
Lacob and management might never have signed off on the trade, but those final steps proved moot. It never got that far. By all accounts, the Warriors discussed the trade in depth internally but didn’t get far down the road with the Nets.
Lacob’s “win now while building a bridge to the future” plan worked last season and the Warriors will get their championship rings on opening night. With some of the veteran depth gone (Otto Porter, Gary Payton II) this season, the Warriors are going to lean more on their young legs to help them during the regular season, and into the playoffs. Once there, the Warriors are a threat to repeat as champions.
They might even have to face Durant and the Nets, should the Warriors get back to the game’s biggest stage. Then we will all revisit those trade discussions again.