Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is willing to sacrifice financially if it means keeping the team’s core players together.
As was the case when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach seven years ago, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant raised a few eyebrows when he decided to join forces with the team that defeated his Oklahoma City Thunder squad in last year’s Western Conference Finals.
While the overall consensus was players have every right to suit up for whatever team they choose, there was some backlash that came with this decision as well.
After all, why join a team that you were so close to beating, even if they did let a championship title slip through their fingers in dramatic fashion?
As expected, with the addition of one of the most elite scorers in the NBA, the Warriors won 67 games on the heels of a 73-9 season in 2015-16. Additionally, they have destroyed every playoff opponent en route to remaining perfect through 13 postseason games, including a 113-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Fittingly, it was Durant who was one of the major headlines following the game. Playing in his first Finals series in five years, Durant was nothing short of phenomenal.
In 38 minutes of action, the former MVP dropped 38 points on 14-for-26 shooting from the field to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. For good measure, let’s also mention that he converted three of his six attempts from three-point range as well.
With Durant and the Warriors clicking on all cylinders, the Cavaliers didn’t match up very well against a team that is looking for a measure of revenge after last year’s historic collapse. And if this game is a preview of things to come, Durant could be on the verge of winning not only his first title, but a Finals MVP award as well.
Think about it for a second. How befitting would it be if Durant knocked off James and the Cavaliers this year considering it was the Big Three of the Miami Heat that defeated OKC in five games in Durant’s first trip to the big stage back in 2012?
While the outcome of the series between these two heavyweights is still up for grabs, what has become crystal clear is Durant’s desire to remain with the Warriors for years to come. In fact, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Chris Haynes, Durant is willing to restructure his current contract in such a way that would allow the team to retain its core players.
Talk about being committed.
What does this move mean for the Warriors moving forward?
In a word: Everything.
With Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston hitting unrestricted free agency this summer, plus Stephen Curry‘s super-max contract to take into account after playing on a bargain deal for so long, KD taking less than the max allows the Warriors to make room for new deals for everyone.
Not only does Durant’s willingness to take less than max money allow the team to keep its core players in the fold, it would also allow Golden State to dominate the Western Conference on an annual basis — a sentiment expressed by ESPN analyst and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy.
“Just the combination of offense and defense, the talent that they’ve been able to amass, it puts them in position where this is a dynasty to me,” he said, per Omnisport’s Joe Rodgers (via Sporting News). “They have their youth, their health. I see nothing preventing them from going to eight to 10 straight Finals. It will be a massive upset if they’re not there each and every year.”
With a dynamic starting lineup of players in their primes — along with the talent they have coming off the bench — the Warriors do have the making of a dynasty as Van Gundy alluded to.
As long as health doesn’t become an issue, there is little that can prevent the Warriors from becoming a team that can win a title year after year for the next five or six seasons…and maybe even longer.
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Source: Fox Sports