After failing to win their third consecutive NBA championship title, the Golden State Warriors headed into the 2019 NBA offseason full of uncertainties. When the clock turns at 6 p.m. on June 30, three of the Warriors’ core players — Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and DeMarcus Cousins — are set to become unrestricted free agents.
Though they are expected to spend most of the 2019-20 NBA season recovering from injuries, Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN revealed that the Warriors’ “first choice” in the 2019 NBA free agency is to give both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson max contract.
“By the time free agency opens Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, the Warriors will have offered both Thompson and Durant full five-year maximum contracts. For Durant, that means $221 million, and for Thompson, $190 million. Even with the reality that Durant might miss all of next season recovering from a torn Achilles and Thompson might miss the bulk of it coming back from an ACL tear, this remains the Warriors’ first choice.”
Despite their failed three-peat, the Warriors know that as long as they have the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green, they will remain as one of the top favorites to fully dominate the Western Conference and win the NBA championship title. Unfortunately, although Klay Thompson is highly expected to re-sign, multiple signs are pointing out that Durant will be leaving Golden State this summer.
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If Kevin Durant is determined to leave, the Warriors are reportedly planning to convince the All-Star forward to agree to a sign-and-trade deal. This would prove beneficial to the Warriors since they will be acquiring precious trade assets instead of losing Durant as an unrestricted free agent without getting anything in return. Also, as ESPN noted, it will enable the Warriors to create a $37.6 million trade exception in which they could use to find Durant’s replacement on the free agency market.
However, a sign-and-trade deal only makes sense for Kevin Durant if his preferred landing spots don’t have enough salary cap space to offer him a max contract. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the top two favorite free agency destinations for Durant — the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets — will have two max slots this summer. If they end up losing Durant for nothing, the Warriors’ backup plan is to bring back DeMarcus Cousins in the 2019 NBA free agency.
“If a deal to sign and trade Durant can’t be worked out, the Warriors have the option of trying to retain DeMarcus Cousins.”
Though the Warriors can’t give DeMarcus Cousins a huge payday, they can assure him of a much larger role on the offensive end of the floor in the 2019-20 NBA season. The Warriors could help Cousins rebuild his value, which will give him a better chance of landing a max contract in the summer of 2020.