NBA Rumors: Kevin Durant’s GSW Departure ‘Could Open The Door’ For Rockets, Thunder & Other West Contenders

The arrival of Kevin Durant in the 2016 NBA free agency has undeniably made the Golden State Warriors unbeatable in the past two seasons. The Warriors successfully built a dynasty after winning three NBA championship titles in the last four years and as of now, they are still the heavy favorite to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the 2018-19 NBA season. However, the Warriors’ dynasty will be in great danger after the season as two their championship core players, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, are set to become unrestricted free agents.

Klay Thompson has already expressed his desire to re-sign with the Warriors, but Kevin Durant continues to refuse to talk about his impending free agency. In the past months, rumors and speculations continue to swirl that Durant will be leaving the Warriors to face the next biggest challenge of his NBA career. That’s undeniably very bad news for the Warriors, but one of the things that other Western Conference contenders are waiting to happen, according to Dan Devine of The Ringer.

As Devine noted, losing Kevin Durant won’t take away the Warriors’ status as a legitimate title contender as long as they have the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. However, Devine believes it “could open the door” for NBA teams like the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and the Portland Trail Blazers.

“But its stranglehold is loosened, and a narrowed margin between the Warriors and the rest of the Western pack could open the door for established threats like the James Harden–Chris Paul Rockets and the Paul George–Russell Westbrook Thunder. Maybe it emboldens would-be contenders like the Nuggets, with plenty of intriguing young pieces positioned around MVP candidate Nikola Jokic; the Jazz, building around the core of Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Joe Ingles; or the Blazers, perpetually in search of a level-up jolt alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.”

The departure of Kevin Durant from Golden State will be good news for most NBA fans as it will make the league less predictable compared to the past NBA seasons. If Durant decides to part ways with the Warriors, one of the NBA teams emerging as his next landing spot is the New York Knicks. After dumping the lucrative contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks before the February NBA trade deadline, the Knicks opened up enough salary cap space to sign two max free agents next July.

The Knicks believe that keeping DeAndre Jordan for the remainder of the 2018-19 NBA season will help them convince Kevin Durant to take his talent to New York next summer. Aside from Durant, the Knicks are also keeping an eye on Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics.