The Golden State Warriors have dominated the NBA in the last four years. The Dubs have played in the last four NBA Finals and have won thrice, including the last two. Golden State is considered as one of the best teams in NBA history and often referred to as the best offensive team the league has ever seen.
But after all their success and the individual sacrifices of their players, many believe that the end is near for the dynasty. The only thing constant in this world is change. And change may be coming very soon in the Bay Area and we could be seeing the breakup of the team that has defined greatness in the current era.
Durant Wants To Get Paid
When Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors three years ago, he changed everything. Golden State was a champion without him in 2015 and they had a record breaking regular season without him. When he joined the Dubs, Golden State suddenly became unbeatable on the court. Outside it, KD took short term contracts and gave discounts to help the Warriors keep the team together but things are changing now. Durant became a free agent last summer and he re-signed quickly. However, his new contract has a provision that allows him to be a free agent after the 2018-19 season. A handful of people believe that he could look to sign elsewhere especially if the Warriors are going to win the title again this season.
KD took a discount in the last two years to help the Warriors keep their core but this time around, Durant said he wants the most money out of this free agency. Because the Warriors have his bird rights, they will have the ability to sign Durant to a super-max deal, even if it would mean exceeding their salary cap. However, if Durant doesn’t take a discount next summer, which is likely because he’s always said in his interviews that he wants to get paid right this time around, then retaining the other key players in the team would be more difficult, leaving the Warriors with difficult decisions to make. And that’s just one part of the story.
The other part of the story is that there is some trouble going on between Durant and Draymond Green. Remember that incident early this season when Green refused to pass the ball to Durant in the final possession of a game against the Clippers? The Warriors lost that game and the two argued in the locker room. Green reportedly dared Durant to leave in free agency. Draymond ended up getting suspended for one game by the Warriors due to “conduct detrimental to the team”. For sure, that is water under the bridge now. But when you have these superstars, they have big egos and sometimes, they just can’t let bygones be bygones. That incident should be on KD’s mind when he decides what to do next.
Draymond Eligible For Extension
And then of course there is Draymond Green, perhaps the most under-appreciated among the Warriors starting unit. Green is having a fantastic all-around season, leading the Dubs in assists and steals. But this is the first time that Green isn’t averaging double-digits in scoring in five seasons. Now scoring isn’t a problem for the Warriors but with the addition of Cousins, Green isn’t getting enough shots anymore. I know Draymond is an unselfish player but at the end of the day, these guys are individuals and would want to accomplish individual success, especially after already having too much team success in the last couple of years.
Locked in & locked down.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) March 25, 2019
Green is eligible for an extension next summer and it’s likely that he will want to get paid as well. Three years ago, Green signed a five year deal with the Warriors and took a big discount so that they could sign Kevin Durant. That decision has led to back to back NBA titles with a third one possible this year. But like Durant, Green has made it clear that he wants to get paid when the time comes. There is no better time for that than this summer, when he is eligible to negotiate for another contract extension. Many executives believe that Green will not take another pay cut this time around and that should put more pressure on the Warriors’ management too.
There is no doubt that Draymond Green is one of the best defensive players on the planet. There is no question that he is one of the most versatile players in the game today but there is also no denying that he is one of the most volatile persons in the game and he is a lot to handle. Green has made a living as an undersized power forward. But with the game changing and bigger, younger guys coming in every year, he is starting to lose his edge not to mention the wear and tear as the player who does all the dirty work for Golden State. Given his profile and his history of arguments with Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant, I’m not sure if the Dubs are going to commit to giving him what he thinks is due him.
Don’t Forget Klay Thompson
A lot of the free agent chatter surrounding Golden State is about Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. But don’t forget that Splash Brother Klay Thompson is also a free agent this coming summer. Many believe that Thompson is a Warrior for life because of his seemingly laid back personality and his willingness to stay in the background, remain silent and just do his thing.
When the Warriors won back to back titles this past June, there were indications that Thompson was going nowhere and that we would be signing a contract extension that would keep him in the Bay Area much longer. But as the summer passed, no deal was made and Thompson will become an unrestricted free agent this coming summer. Now if you think he is going to take a discount to return to Golden State, that would be foolish because Thompson has also already made it known that he wants a max contract from the Warriors.
Thompson has been one of the main stabilizing forces on the team. He isn’t a Steph Curry or Kevin Durant but his shooting and defense have helped the Warriors win their three NBA titles. Thompson is 29 years old already and he’s spent his entire NBA career playing second and third fiddle to superstars that he is just as good as on the basketball court. Don’t you think at some point he’s going to want to be the guy on a team? Of course, rings are more important to him than accolades but given this time around that the Warriors can’t afford all of them, isn’t this the right time to leave for Klay? If he re-signs again, he will be over 30 when he becomes a free agent again. For sure, he won’t get the same money next time than this time around.
Finally, there is DeMarcus Cousins. While you might say that he is dispensable because he wasn’t there in any of their three title runs, he is one of the best big men in the game today when healthy. The only reason he came to Golden State, aside from hoping to win a ring, was because he wasn’t getting his free agent money after an ACL injury. I’m not sure how much Boogie is worth after the season but with the Warriors seeing what he can do for them on the court and him being 100% healthy now, would they not consider keeping him instead of Draymond Green? When you come to think of it, Cousins is just as volatile as Green. But he is bigger and more talented than Draymond (sorry). I think that the Warriors will have that in mind and Cousins could be the guy who breaks the original core. But again, keeping Cousins will be expensive and that will only make the Warriors problems even grow bigger.
Good thing for Golden State is that they have secured Stephen Curry. Curry was also underpaid until his most recent contract extension. While we talk about all the talent in Golden State, we all know Curry is the most valuable piece as the team has struggled when he isn’t around. The Warriors were right in paying him the moon. But while that is already taken cared of, keeping the rest of the Hamptons has become tricky and of course, expensive.
Money alone won’t completely break the Warriors dynasty up. Curry is already secured. They can keep a second max free agent but the rest will have to take a discount to keep the band together one more time. If they win the title again this year, there is a possibility of players changing their minds and taking another discount. But what if they lose? The Warriors’ stranglehold of the NBA has never been more shaky than it has been this season. If they lose the title, breaking up is almost inevitable.