Since joining the Warriors during the summer of 2016, Kevin Durant has signed short-term contracts, opting out and signing new deals twice since then. Those short-term commitments weren’t necessarily a sign of his unwillingness to commit to Golden State long-term, but rather a byproduct of the constraints of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Those short-term contracts allowed Durant to maximize his year-to-year earnings if he wanted to (instead, he opted for a team-friendly discount in year two) and will put him in position to ink a five-year contract with the Warriors in 2019, when the team will finally have secured his Bird rights.
However, while Durant’s return to Golden State was a given during the last two summers, that no longer appears to be the case for 2019. Despite winning back-to-back titles with the Warriors, earning Finals MVP honors both times, Durant isn’t viewed as a lock to remain in the Bay Area for many years to come.
Those rumblings about Durant’s possible departure grew a little louder last week, when multiple national NBA writers, including Chris Haynes, Chris Mannix, and Tim Bontemps, suggested that people around the NBA viewed the Knicks as a legit suitor for nine-time All-Star. Now, a local reporter has joined the conversation and added further credence to the idea that Durant could head elsewhere.
Following up on a radio appearance on KNBR, Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic wrote last night that he’s not reporting that Durant will leave Golden State at season’s end, but if he had to guess, he’d predict the 30-year-old will head elsewhere.
As Thompson explains, Durant’s comments about keeping his options open and taking things “season by season” strike a different tone than what he’s said about his situation in past years. Additionally, Thompson says he’s spoken to several people within the Warriors’ franchise about the subject, and gets the same sentiment from most of them: they hope he stays, but wouldn’t be surprised if he leaves.
It’s hard to imagine any team besides the Warriors entering the 2019 offseason as the favorites to sign Durant, especially if they win another title. After all, they’ll be able to offer him more years and more money than any other club. Still, many teams around the NBA will have the cap space necessary to sign a maximum-salary free agent, and several of those teams will be eager to pitch Durant on becoming the new face of their franchise.
What do you think? Is it crazy to think that Durant might leave Golden State next year after his run of success with the team? Do you expect him to stick around the Bay Area beyond 2019, or will rival teams have a real chance to lure him away?
Head to the comment section below to weigh in!