After winning back-to-back NBA championship titles, Kevin Durant inked a new deal with the Golden State Warriors in the recent free agency. However, his current contract has a player option that will enable him to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason. In the ESPN Summer Forecast, most panelists still expect Durant to return to Golden State, but there are growing speculations that the All-Star forward may consider making another shocking decision after the 2018-19 NBA season.
Matt Burke of Metro US believes that the summer of 2019 will be a “real free agency” period for Kevin Durant. Burke opined that Durant could be eyeing to join the Los Angeles Lakers and team up with LeBron James in the 2019-20 NBA season.
“Kevin Durant has already shifted the balance of power in the NBA once by jumping to the Golden State Warriors. While he quietly re-upped with the Dubs the past two summers, it looks like next summer will be a ‘real free agency’ period for Durant as he plots his next destination,” Burke wrote. “The Warriors want to do right by one of the original members of the Golden State dynasty, as it looks as though they will stop at nothing to keep Klay Thompson in Oakland. That means re-signing Durant suddenly becomes more difficult. Not impossible. But difficult.”
Steve Kerr is not focused on Kevin Durant's future right now https://t.co/7H1m7lW5AO— Intl. Business Times (@IBTimes) September 5, 2018
Kevin Durant is not the only Warriors superstar who will hit the free agency market next summer. Klay Thompson is entering the final year of the four-year, $68.9 million contract he signed with the Warriors in 2015. With his impressive performance on both ends of the floor, there is no doubt that Thompson deserves a huge payday. Being buried deep in the luxury tax hell, it remains a big question mark if the Warriors are willing to give two maximum contracts in the 2019 NBA free agency.
As Burke noted, the Warriors are expected to prioritize re-signing Thompson. If they take too long on giving KD a new contract, the Lakers could use the opportunity to steal him from the Warriors. The Lakers purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019.
After reaching a buyout agreement with veteran small forward Luol Deng, the Lakers are in a strong position to give Kevin Durant a max contract next offseason. LeBron James will surely love the idea of having Durant on his team. His tandem with James will undeniably make the Lakers a team to fear in the deep Western Conference. The departure of Durant will not take away the Warriors’ status as a legitimate title contender, but it will make them vulnerable compared in the last two seasons.