When five All Stars are assembled on one team, tensions are going to boil over sometimes. There's going to be arguments over missed passes, bad shots, maybe even playing time. It seems like the winning high has faded for the Golden State Warriors, and two vital players, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, were just at each others throats. For really the first time, real speculation is starting to pick up about whether this is truly the end for the Warriors' dynasty. There are multiple factors that play into it, but the window is closing: this will be the last season of the Warriors we've become accustomed to seeing blow out our favorite teams.
Durant v. Green (2016-?)
This media freakout over the Warriors potential split seems to mostly stem from Kevin Durant and Draymond Green's on-court argument Monday during an OT loss to the Clippers. Draymond had a late-game turnover that led to the confrontation with KD during a timeout that had to be mediated by the calmest man in NBA history, DeMarcus Cousins. Apparently it got so heated that Draymond brought up KD's upcoming free agency, reportedly telling him "You're a bitch and you know you're a bitch... We don't need you. We won without you. Leave." (Chris Haynes/Yahoo Sports) Well damn, Draymond. I think it's a non-issue. Yesterday Draymond addressed it to a swarm of reporters, saying that him and KD are moving forward and his emotions sometimes come out. It's no secret Draymond is an emotional player; he's one of the most polarizing players in the league. He's one of the best defenders in the league and is arguably the second-most important player on the Warriors behind Steph, but he also kicks too many guys in the balls. In 2016 he even told head coach Steve Kerr to "suck his dick" (imagine telling your head coach to fellate you). Draymond knows how to win and I'm sure he's had to settle other teammate beefs in the past. He knows what's at stake and won't let one argument derail a dynasty.
This isn't the first time Draymond and Durant have gotten into it. There have been multiple times they've jawed at each other since KD joined in 2016. Each time there's been floods of tweets and coverage pondering their relationship and wondering if these rifts will damper their championship odds, but they've never amounted to anything. Both of KD's seasons with the Warriors have ended with the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, and it'll probably be the same result this year. However, it will also be their last for a while.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
There's going to be a lot of Warriors on the open market the next two summers. The only important player they have locked up long-term is Stephen Curry, who is in the midst of a five-year/$201 million deal that runs through the 2021-22 season. Some will stay, but a few guy are going to seek opportunities elsewhere, mainly because they'll have to. Golden State has a lot of tough decisions to make in regards to their roster because they literally can't afford to keep everyone. The key guys are going to get paid, it just might be in a different area code.
Summer 2019 Notable Free Agents
Kevin Durant: I think he's gone, but not because of the Draymond argument. KD got the rings and Finals MVPs he needed to solidify his legacy as a top-20 player and he's going to seek a new challenge (and money) elsewhere. He's not making it a secret that he wants to get paid and he shouldn't. He's 30 and this summer is his last chance to sign a max deal. There are a few interesting options that Durant could explore this summer due to a number of teams having the cap space to sign him. If he's truly seeking his next challenge, he should head East, but nobody truly knows what he's going to do, and everything until his announcement this summer is purely speculation.
Klay Thompson: It seems like there's two possible destinations for Klay this summer: the Warriors and the Lakers. It must be nice to be Klay. He's going to get a max contract and still be surrounded by his precious Cali gas, all while running around screens and making cuts to get open for threes. The Warriors seem like a franchise to hook it up for their homegrown stars, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them offer Klay a five-year max deal before KD. He's relatively young (28) and is having another solid season (21.1/3.6/1.7) despite a down year from deep (33.9% 3FG). Once his stroke clicks, Klay will be back to being a lethal sharpshooter on a championship squad.
He'll probably stay. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for him to leave. He's done his winning and will potentially go down as the second-best shooter ever. Klay stays!
DeMarcus Cousins: Boogie hasn't even played a game yet and it's already his last year with the Warriors. This was basically confirmed by Steve Kerr: "We made no bones about it when we signed him. This is a 1-year deal and we're not going to have money to sign him next year so we'd like to help him win a championship and sign a great contract somewhere else. That's the reality." Boogie is expected to start slowly easing into practices "in the near future" and should make his return around the All Star break. Boogie is a top center in the league when healthy, but nobody's sure how he's going to bounce back from his Achilles tear. But, yeah, Boogie's gone.
Summer 2020 Notable Free Agents
Draymond Green: Between Steph's max and the max that either Klay or Durant will sign, the Warriors simply won't be able to afford Draymond's demands. Draymond is going to demand a max deal and somebody is going to give it to him, or at least something close. Draymond is a vital player to the Warriors' success with his all-around skill set and ability to stuff the stat sheet. He's having a down scoring year (6.9 points per game) but is making up for it in other categories (7.5 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.8 blocks, 0.8 steals). Draymond is a winner, but often emotional, and that may not be worth $30 million a year to the Warriors.
(Draymond would be a good Nugget.)
Andre Iguodala: Iggy is hitting the tail end of his career. The 2015 Finals MVP is hitting the stage of signing short term deals with contenders who need a veteran presence on the bench. He's 34 and playing the least minutes of his career (20.7 a night) to go along with his lowest scoring average (4.5 points). The Warriors could bring him back on a veteran minimum contract, but Iggy's experience may get him a slightly bigger deal for a team that needs his wisdom.
(That means "end" in French.) This is the end of the Warriors as we know it. The dynasty was eventually going to topple like all do, and I can't wait. I'm tired of them running through the league and knowing that it will likely be over soon is comforting. It will be weird when they aren't a powerhouse anymore, but it's time for a new chapter in the NBA.
It really all boils down to the cap space situation. There are plenty of arguments I'm sure we don't see, and it can get chalked up to superstar personalities colliding. Steve Kerr knows how to steer this ship, and they're going to claim their final trophy. There's sure to be more drama throughout the season, and once Boogie gets added to the mix there's going to be a few more on-court drama filled moments to look forward to. All we can do is sit back and watch it unfold.