The Warriors have a lot of question marks on their team going into next season. This isn’t a team full of young, first-year players signed long-term – they have a number of key veterans who are set to hit free agency. Harrison Barnes, perhaps one of the most important role players on the team, is approaching his first tour at restricted free agency – ditto that for big man Festus Ezeli. Both players were key for the Warriors throughout the regular season.
So, what can the Warriors do in free agency to reclaim their throne from the Cavaliers and continue to rule the Western Conference? They’ve still got Curry under contract for one more season before he hits unrestricted free agency, and also have Klay Thompson and Draymond Green locked up for the next few seasons. They’ve said they will be “very, very aggressive” in free agency. The core is intact, so the question begs – should the Warriors upgrade their role players, or add to their core? Recent reports have indicated at both suggestions, but there’s two big names floating around in free agency that the Warriors are heavily interested in:
Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki.
Golden State’s interest in Durant can be traced back throughout the last several months. Durant, 27, a life-time member of the Seattle Supersonics/Oklahoma City Thunder, could very well be ready to leave OKC to jump on the Warriors’ wagon. After years of coming so close with Russell Westbrook and the Thunder, it’s looking more and more likely that Durant could be ready to move on. While he’s said that he’s considering a return to OKC, the understanding is that the Warriors are his preference if he does not return to the Thunder. The Warriors, because of the favorable contracts of Curry, Thompson, and Green, will have the cap space to accommodate a Durant signing. It’s conceivable that a Curry-Durant-Thompson-Green foursome could rule the Western Conference, if not the NBA, for at least the next five seasons. Durant is holding meeting with teams in Los Angeles for his free agency process.
The Warriors’ interest in Nowitzki is a bit of a surprise. The 38-year old German has spent his entire career in Dallas with the Mavericks, and has indicated that it’s always been his desire to retire with the team. However, Nowitzki has said that if the team were to approach a rebuilding phase, he would seek out a new team with a chance to “win-now” while his window is still open – there’s no team that’s more of a “win-now” team than the Warriors. He’d be a major upgrade over the Bogut/Ezeli/Speights tandem in the front court, but with Durant as Golden State’s Plan A, Nowitzki seems to be their Plan B in the event that Durant returns to OKC. The idea of Nowitzki leaving Dallas seems unlikely, but if the Mavs truly commit to a rebuild then this could become increasingly likely.
Durant and Nowitzki are just two of several key free agents available this offseason. If the Warriors are true to their word about an aggressive offseason to right the wrongs of their unfortunate end to the season, things could get very, very interesting. There was no doubt that whoever came out of the losing end of this year’s Finals would shape the landscape of the NBA for another season, but it looks like the Warriors are intent on shaping the foreseeable future in their favor.