The NBA’s landscape changed during the 2010 offseason when free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh left their teams to join Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat. It was the first time in NBA history that two stars left their respective franchises in the same summer to create a super team.
The ripple effect of the 2010 offseason is still being felt a decade later. The Houston Rockets are dealing with drama when it comes to their superstar James Harden, who hasn’t reported for team workouts ahead of the new season.
Harden is just the latest former league MVP who wants out of his current situation. Even though the 31-year-old has no leverage because he still has three years left on his contract with the Rockets, he is still trying to control when he ends up.
Harden is looking to become the eighth MVP winner since the 2000-01 season to move on to a different team. Only three players who won the MVP award in the last 20 years remained with the team that drafted them for the rest of their careers: Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, while Stephen Curry could become the fourth. It remains to be seen what happens with reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is eligible to sign a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks by Dec. 21, or he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
Here is a list of some of the star players who were in their primes that have moved to different teams in the past 10 years: James, Bosh, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving. Eight out of the 10 either asked to be traded or signed elsewhere during free agency.
Noticeably missing from the list are Golden State Warriors players. The Dubs have been one of, if not the best franchise in the NBA over the past decade. Led by Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Golden State has made seven playoff appearances, five NBA Finals and won three championships. Yet, not one of the Big 3 has moved on to a different organization. Curry is about to negotiate his fourth contract with the Dubs, while Thompson and Green are both locked in through the 2023-23 season.
The Warriors have been able to keep their talent because of a number of different factors. Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber took over the franchise in 2010 and quickly turned it into a juggernaut.
Lacob and Gruber have shown the players that they’re willing to spend to the maximum in order for the team to compete each season. They have hired the right people and are committed to winning.
The Dubs also have continuity on their side. General manager Bob Myers has been with the team since 2011, while head coach Steve Kerr began manning the sidelines before the 2014-15 seasons.
Curry, Thompson and Green are homegrown stars and were always going to be more connected to the fanbase because they were around when the Warriors started their journey to the top of the NBA.
When the league saw a dramatic jump in revenue thanks to the new national TV deals before the 2016-17 season, Myers and co. pulled a checkmate move on the rest of the NBA by signing Durant during free agency.
Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder despite losing to Golden State in the Western Conference Final in 2016 and had also had a Finals appearance on his resume. Durant then bolted for the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 after three seasons in the Bay Area that saw him win two championships. I don’t know if Durant ever truly planned on staying with the franchise for the rest of his career, but his disputes with Draymond and possibly the fact that he wasn’t ever going to be as beloved as Curry led to him leaving.
The fact that Golden State has been able to keep Curry, Thompson and Green is a testament to the organization. We haven’t heard whispers about Curry or Thompson potentially leaving in free agency or had any drama surrounding their contract extensions.
Curry and Thompson don’t have the reputation of being divas in their locker room. By all accounts, their teammates love playing with them, and we saw how unselfish each of them was when they happily deferred to Durant when the situation called for it. Green — who wears his heart on his sleeve — has had his fair share of emotional outbursts but still clearly has the respect of everyone in the organization.
The Harden drama will play out over the coming weeks, but it is a good reminder of how well the Warriors have done keeping their star players happy.