Free agency officially begins on July 1st and the Golden State Warriors are one of just six teams to have a confirmed meeting with the jewel of this year’s free agent class: Kevin Durant. Recently, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Durant seems inclined sign a one year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and then revisit free agency in the summer of 2017. However, this puts the Warriors in a particularly tricky situation.
If Durant does indeed go back to OKC on a two year deal with an opt-out after the first season, will the Warriors be forced to match an offer for Harrison Barnes? Will that then take them out of the running for Durant’s services in 2017?
Or, deeper still, can Draymond Green and Klay Thompson get in Durant’s ear while the three players are in #TeamUSAMode and somehow convince him to sign (either now — if for some reason he hadn’t yet decided — or next year), come westward, and reap the benefits of a hungry horde of Silicon Valley investors vying for his endorsements, a new stadium opening up soon, and co-billing with Stephen Curry?
Two videos I found of note:
Team USA is set to rocknroll in Rio in just a month or so. Before they travel south, the players will meet for training camp in Vegas from July 18th - July 22nd, and then will play a string of promotional/exhibition matches before flying to Brazil for the Olympics, which begin August 6th.
So, given that, here are some uncoordinated, unfiltered thoughts:
This timeline is all funky. Kevin Durant has said he wants to make a decision on his free agency quickly. He’s rumored to want to be signed and sealed before he leaves for the Far East on July 9th for some publicity/marketing events. Given that hastened timeline, and given the fact that he can make a HELLLLLLL of a lot more money if he signs a 1+1 with OKC and then reenters free agency next summer, I really don’t see him signing with the Warriors this year.
But, then what?
Let’s say for argument’s sake that he does sign with OKC on a 1+1. The Warriors send recruitment ambassadors to Rio with Durant in the corporeal forms of Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. They hang out, they talk about life, God, and basketball. They have a great frickin time and bring home the gold. Durant, though he’s already pledged himself to OKC for the next year, starts to seriously consider joining the Warriors in 2017, regardless of outcome.
Where is Harrison Barnes during all this? Has someone given him a max offer already? I’m betting yes. Has he accepted it? Also betting yes. Have the Warriors matched??
Let’s say someone does something crazy, like the Mavericks (or the Sixers —hahahahahaha read the responses) offer Barnes a max straight away on July 1st. He can’t technically sign the contract until the NBA’s moratorium has expired on July 6th, plus then the Warriors would have to match within three days. So, that gives the team until the 9th on the Harrison front. Again, Durant is making a decision by the 9th. Surprise surprise, ninths abound here. So, you throw all the cards and chips and other betting implements into the sky, see where they fall, and then move on. But say the Warriors decline a Barnes max offer sheet because, a.) C’mon, they’re not matching a max. Did you see how he f’ing played in the postseason??? Ugh. Please. And, b.) They are trying to keep their options open for 2017 with Durant.
However, hedging bets on a player signing a full year later is dangerous. Too many things could happen. OKC could win it all, and Durant and Westbrook could bro out, decide to remain together forever, and sign matching 100 year deals to be best friends for life. The Warriors really can’t afford to miss out on Durant this go-around, because they won’t be in as strong a position come next year. Bob Myers is a shrewd man, I can’t see him deciding to just ”hope for the best” with a 2017 Durant pitch. If they do miss out on Durant, I think they’re forced to match Barnes’ offer, thereby taking themselves out of the running for his services in 2017.
So, basically, Joe Lacob has to get this dude now. Right now. Can’t you see it? Lacob in a room, pacing laps, pointing to the sky, to the earth, pounding his chest and tearing his clothes. Sweating, screaming, “YOU NEED TO COME HERE NOW BECAUSE WE’RE NOT SURE IF WE CAN DO THIS AGAIN IN A YEAR AND ALSO HERE’S MORE MONEY THAN YOU’LL EVER NEED AND OH, BY THE WAY, SILICON VALLEY WILL MAKE YOU TRIPLE THAT, I KNOW PEOPLE, BY GOD, I KNOW EVERY SINGLE M’FER IN THIS ENTIRE PLACE HASHTAG LIGHTYEARS HASHTAG WE WILL BE AGGRESSIVE!!” while Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Bob Myers, Steve Kerr, and Draymond Green hide their faces in their hands.
And then Durant will sign the 1+1 with OKC, and then Green and Klay will have to woo him gently while they’re all in Rio drinking Cachaca and chilling in the hotel pool wearing mosquito nets around their entire bodies to protect themselves from Zika but it might all be for naught because the Warriors will have matched Barnes’ deal and then Dub Nation will openly weep at the thought/reality of paying $20M a year to the guy who went 5-32 from the field during Games 5-7 with a horrid total +/- of -32 in those games and was benched for James Michael McAdoo and then Brandon Rush during crucial stretches. Reminder: A win in any of those games would have given the Warriors their second straight championship.
Dammit, now I’m just angry. Hold on, let me go find a pillow so I can smother my own face.
So, what does it all mean? Can the Warriors really sign Durant? What sort of team will we see on opening night? Will Barnes be back? Can he be back after his showing in the Finals? What about Bogut? Will they have to trade him to clear space if Durant says yes? Hell, what about Ezeli? What if some desperate-for-size team throws him a max? (Hint: That’s why the Warriors drafted this dude)
It’s a strange, feverish time in the NBA. Warriors fans very easily could have been sitting on a second straight title, reaping the benefits of “Best Team Ever,” but instead we’re hip deep in free agency rumors, prolonged sadness, pain, and confusion. Life needs to remind us that things shouldn’t come easy. As the brilliant medieval scholar Thomas of Pynchon the IVth said, “Y’all need to suffer.”
Damn, guess we’ll just have to wait and see how those airborne gambling implements fall into place in the next few weeks.
Warriors' meeting with Thunder free agent Kevin Durant is Friday afternoon in The Hamptons, source told The... https://t.co/DjX0xLD5Jq— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) June 29, 2016
Time to pop open the bubbly, watch some gentle waves lap against a serene shore, and pitch like you’ve never pitched before.