First of all, the Warriors are not made up of porcelain dolls. They’re not going to crack when there’s a little adversity or an obstacle or challenge is put in front of them. They’ve made it through a half-season without their head coach Steve Kerr and a good portion of it without forward Harrison Barnes, who was hurt.
But they might be facing a more daunting issue now: The constant background noise regarding Kevin Durant.
The whispers of Durant possibly joining the Warriors at the end of the season turned into shouts when Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that Golden State may very well be the frontrunner to land the former MVP and free agent to be. And it just so happens Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder will be at Oracle on Saturday for a game against the Warriors.
The Warriors are 44-4 right now, with a game against the Washington Wizards later today and a trip to the White House to meet the president tomorrow. They are coming off their first championship in 40 years and they are being talked about as one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
The idea of Durant joining this juggernaut is fascinating, no doubt. It wasn’t long ago that the Warriors struggled to lure free agents to the Bay. Now, the biggest free agent on the market is thinking about joining an already loaded Warriors team. Hey, the Warriors have done a 180 and there’s no reason not to enjoy it.
But the acquisition of Durant would come at a price. Danny LeRoux wrote in the Sporting News months back that a Durant-to-the-Warriors scenario was a possibility. But LeRoux speculated that the Warriors would likely have to lose two of the following three players to get it done: Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes.
Still, Durant is a game-changer and the Warriors would have to be crazy not to explore all possibilities to try to get him. As bright as the Warriors’ future looks with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green it’s impossible not to imagine what adding Durant to that mix would look like.
Still, conventional wisdom is that the Warriors are currently set up for a big-time run so the question is: Why would you mess with a sure thing? The bottom line is the Warriors are set up for the future so bringing in Durant would mess with that.
But it’s not just the future to think about. There’s also the present. With the Golden State Warriors working on back-to-back titles, and working on it in historic fashion, do they really want and need this Durant distraction now?
The Warriors’ chemistry is very real. They get along, play the right way and are as together as any team in the NBA. But the louder the calls for Durant get, the more and more their current players will likely think about whether they’re a part of the future or not. In the midst of this historic, once-in-a-lifetime season how will some players react to the idea, perhaps even the plan, that they won’t be needed or wanted next year?
Human nature suggests that when you’re 44-4 you’re going to be disappointed when you hear you might not be around next year. Sure Bogut, Iguodala and Barnes have heard their names in trade reports before, but this would be different — as key core players on the best team on planet Earth.
There hasn’t been a team in the NBA that has shown they can beat the Warriors this year. But this would be another kind of gut-check for the Warriors — keeping everything intact and humming nicely while Durant seemingly waits in the wings.
Or maybe waits front and center. For example, is Durant now going to get a standing ovation when he is introduced on Saturday, with Warriors fans knowing he wants to come? Wonder how some Warriors players might feel about that.
Of course, there’s a lot to play out here. Who knows how the season is going to finish out? What if the Warriors win a second consecutive title? Would Durant really want to join a team that’s won without him? That wouldn’t be a good look for a so-called superstar. Would the Warriors really want to break up a team that just won back-to-back titles?
Well, the answer to that last question is: Yes. If there’s one thing Warriors owner Joe Lacob has shown it’s that he’s willing to take risks. Big risks. So there’s no doubt he’s absolutely looking at ways to get Durant here in the future.
But it’s not the future the Warriors should worry about. It’s the present.