Is the Dynasty of Golden State Warriors Coming to an End?
Many people debate whether or not Golden State is really a “dynasty” of this basketball era. I don’t think that this is even a question. In 20 years people are going to look back and say that this was one of the greatest teams to play in the NBA. They are playing in their 5th straight NBA Finals. They have won 3 of the last 4. Members of the Warriors have broken numerous records, both team and individual. A large portion of these are because of the “Splash Brothers.” Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are the greatest 3 point shooting duo of all time. They hold the majority of 3 point records in the NBA and Steph is on track to become the all time leader.
The real reason this dynasty may be coming to an end is that many of their players have developed into all stars after signing contracts early in the league. This and taking reduced contracts for a chance to win a championship, such as Draymond Green did. Now those contracts are coming to an end and Golden State won’t be able to pay them all what they are worth. Now that they have some rings, I imagine many of these players will be looking to try and win in other cities.
Golden State’s owner, Joe Lacob, is confident that they will re-sign Durant and Thompson, but the choices are ultimately up to the players. Also consider that Draymond Green may be eligible for a supermax contract extension this summer. There are a lot of things that could happen. Let’s take a look at some of these players, the options they have and where they might go.
At the end of this season Kevin Durant will have an important choice to make. He has one year left on his contract, but it is a player option. If he chooses, he can leave and join another team. There are rumors that he may go to the New York Knicks. If the Knicks can also land Kyrie Irving this would make for a formidable team. However, since they did not get the number one lottery pick and they traded Kristaps Porzingis, things may be different. They still have the #3 pick in the draft and a lot of cap space to sign both of these star players.
Durant may also look to join the Los Angeles Lakers with Lebron James. This is also skeptical after Magic Johnson leaving and reporting on how bad the upper management of the team is. Other options include the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Oklahoma City Thunder, or the Dallas Mavericks. He has many options and the power is in his hands to control his destiny.
Klay Thompson is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. After getting snubbed by not making the All-NBA team, he is not eligible for the supermax contract. He is still eligible for a standard max contract at 5 years, $191 million. With the rumors of Durant planning to leave, many expect Klay to stay in Golden State and sign this max contract. Keeping him and Curry together would be a huge step to maintaining the level of dominance the Warriors have shown over the past few years. However, if he does decide to leave, there are plenty of other teams that would love to add him to their roster.
The top options right now are pretty similar to KD’s, as these teams have enough cap space to work with. These top spots include Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, and LA Lakers. Also in the mix are Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers. I would love to see him end up with the Jazz but that is just me. He would be a great addition to Brooklyn, but I don’t see them being championship contenders for at least a couple of years. The Lakers have the same issue as with Durant, management. With the addition of Porzingis, Dallas could be a good fit. Considering Doncic as well, the trio could spread the floor quite well. With his proven ability, he will have plenty of options.
With yet another injury, DeMarcus Cousins may have some trouble in his free agency. Not trouble getting signed, but rather trouble getting paid. His upside is huge, making him quite valuable. His injuries, however, pose a great risk. With his limited playing time this year, he is set to play in just his 31st game of the season for game one of the NBA finals. Much of his value will be determined by his performance here in the finals. This will be the only true insight as to how well he has recovered from injury.
Let’s look at teams that may have an interest in him. For starters, the Warriors may end up re-signing him, especially if they have cap space. This could happen if Durant or Klay decide to leave. There are other teams looking for a dominant big man who can shoot threes, grab boards, and play solid defense. If Milwaukee decides that Cousins can out perform Brook Lopez, then they may be in the hunt. The Mavericks may also be a good fit with Dirk Nowitzki entering retirement and a young Porzingis on the roster. There is also a possibility that he returns to Sacramento if he can use his attitude to inspire the young talent there.
Other Notable Players
In addition to these key players for Golden State, there are several bench players with expiring contracts. Depending on how, or if, they keep Durant, Thompson or Cousins, they may not be able to sign many of these guys again. Also some of them may be looking for a larger role as a starter on another team. These players include Andrew Bogut, Jonas Jerebko, Kevon Looney, Quinn Cook, and Jordan Bell. We may see some of them return but likely, many of them will part ways with the team.
More Contracts Next Year
At the end of next season, there are several other key players that will have contracts expiring. It is too far ahead to speculate who may stay and who may be leaving. Much of this will depend on the roster for next year, cap space, and how the team chemistry works. These players include Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston. The future of these players may be uncertain, but there are a few things that we do know.
Draymond was one of the players who signed a contract for less money than he could have gotten back in 2015. His 5 year deal was still worth $84 million dollars, but he was eligible for $94 million dollars. He made this sacrifice so the team could pursue Kevin Durant. This allowed them to win back to back NBA championships over the past 2 years. Now that they have the fame and the rings, it is likely that Green will be looking for a max contract. Rightfully so and many teams will be willing to pay him. Depending on how the next year plays out, Golden State may be able to sign him again if he wishes to stay.
Andre Iguodala has had an impressive 14-year NBA career. Since joining the Warriors in 2015, he has been awarded the NBA Finals MVP (2015) as the first player to do so without starting a single regular season game. He has also played a pivotal role in all three of their championships. Iguodala is also releasing his own book, The Sixth Man, later this year. He discusses his planning ahead for retirement, through investments and education. Andre also mentions that he will only play as long as he is enjoying the game, hinting that he may be nearing retirement. I would expect him to retire at the end of next year if he doesn’t after the finals this year.
Shaun Livingston has played a long stint in the NBA as well, approaching his 15th year in the league. He has been with Golden State for all three of their recent championship and provides depth in the guard position for the team. He is another player who may be retiring at the end of this year or next year. In 2007, he suffered an extensive left knee injury. This took almost a year and a half to recover from. Now, over 10 years later, he says that the injury is catching up to him. Retirement may be a good option to avoid anymore damage to his knee. I mean he already has three rings and possibly 4 after this year. What more could he want?
What Does All of This Mean?
The future of any team is pretty uncertain. We don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what will happen. The Golden State Warriors definitly have some major decisions to make over the next two years. Regardless, they will be losing talent. So the real question is how much talent can they bring in to fill the gaps? And will this be enough to continue their dynasty? Chances are, we will see another super-team emerge in the next two years. This is emphasized by the fact that there are other big name free agents becoming available this year; Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and Jimmy Butler (Player Option). I guess we just sit back, grab some popcorn, and see how this all plays out.