After blowing a 3-1 lead against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals 2016, the Golden State Warriors decided to make a huge roster shakeup by signing Kevin Durant in free agency. To make salary cap room to give Durant a decent contract, the Warriors parted ways with some of the players that helped them finish with a historical 73-9 record in the 2015-16 NBA season. However, all the Warriors’ sacrifices are worth it as Durant enabled them to win back-to-back NBA championship titles and build a dynasty.
Before he controversially signed with the Warriors, several NBA teams have expressed interest in acquiring Kevin Durant in free agency, including the Cavaliers. According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, then-Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin ordered his men to “explore ways” to add Durant on their team.
“In late June 2016, just days after winning one of the most thrilling and historically significant NBA Finals in history, David Griffin, then the Cleveland Cavaliers’ GM, gathered his staff and gave them a directive: Explore ways to get Kevin Durant. Everyone knew even getting a meeting was a long shot. They would have to gut most of their roster around LeBron James to acquire Durant. But they had to at least do their due diligence.”
Kevin Durant to miss Wednesday's game vs. Rockets. Here's the latest on his injury https://t.co/Kpky5BI1E3— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 13, 2019
Tearing down the roster that helped them win their first NBA championship title would undeniably anger lots of Cavaliers’ fans. But during those times, David Griffin and his staffs must have already known what would happen if the Warriors succeeded to acquire Kevin Durant. Adding Durant to the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green undeniably made the Warriors unbeatable that even the Cavaliers’ “Big Three” of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love couldn’t give them a thrilling series.
“I don’t believe you can dream big enough in the NBA,” Griffin says now in recalling that meeting. “You have to go through the exercise.”
It’s interesting to see what would have happened if Kevin Durant signed with the Cavaliers instead of the Warriors in the summer of 2016. Even if they failed to acquire Durant, the Warriors would still remain a legitimate title contender by retaining the 73-9 win roster. However, the tandem of Durant and LeBron James would make the Cavaliers the No. 1 favorite to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy every season. If only David Griffin turned one of his dreams into reality, the Cavaliers might have succeeded to build their own dynasty which could have given James a better chance of beating Michael Jordan’s championship record.