Report: Warriors want Kevin Durant back but are open to sign-and-trade
The Golden State Warriors are not changing their approach this offseason even with both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson expected to miss most or all of next season as they rehab from major injuries, but the team does not want to lose a star player without some sort of consolation prize.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne, that consolation prize could come in the form salary cap space for the Warriors. While Golden State plans to offer both Durant and Thompson five-year max contracts when free agency begins, the possibility of a sign-and-trade with Durant still exists. That would allow Durant to maximize his potential earnings with a $221 million deal, and it would put the Warriors in position to create a $36.7 million trade exception.
As Windhorst and Shelburne note, the trade exception would allow the Warriors to be players in free agency even if they lost Durant. They could either explore sign-and-trade deals with other free agents or use the salary cap space to sign impact players over the next year.
To be clear, a sign-and-trade involving Durant is the backup plan for the Warriors. Plan A is bringing back both Durant and Thompson, which would create the most expensive roster in NBA history and a luxury tax bill of somewhere around $200 million. The new Chase Center, which will open next year in San Francisco, is expected to generate around $200 million in new revenue. That is why Golden State’s ownership group is willing to spend an unprecedented amount to keep its championship core together, according to ESPN.
Durant supposedly wants to play with another superstar free agent, and that is not going to happen in Golden State. There has also been talk that he could be upset with the Warriors over the handling of his injury, so it remains to be seen if that will play a role in his decision.