The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA finals, but the future of superstar Kevin Durant remains unclear. Now apparently also the L.A. Clippers are back in the raffle. Until recently, it was almost inevitable that Durant will leave the Warriors in the summer, even players in Golden State are reported to have already informed acquaintances that they expect a departure of the two-time final MVPs. The New York Knicks have always been the most likely target, also because Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman is a passionate Knicks fan.
But Marc Stein (New York Times) has come up with yet another possibility in his newsletter: within the last month, he has heard from several well-informed sources that the Clippers are just as much of a threat as the Knicks in the summer away. “And I believe it,” said the insider. The problem is again that he has heard several times during the season with complete certainty that Durant wanted to Knicks or even to the Brooklyn Nets and have already decided. In that respect, you can not be sure.
Both the Knicks and the Clippers and Nets will have sufficient Cap Space in summer to record at least a maximum contract. The Clippers are also said to have good cards with Raptors star Kawhi Leonard, while the Knicks allegedly squint at Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.
Rich Kleiman himself told the rumors about Durant on Tuesday to the Wall Street Journal and agreed with Stein that one can not be sure.
“That’s 100 percent undecided, and I’m waiting for Kevin, that’s the truth,” said Kleiman. “I think people think this is some war games and the moves are planned years, but when you reach that level in basketball, you can not constantly change the focus and have to stay in the here and now and that sometimes, frankly, is frustrating.”
Durant has not made any decision for his future. “He really does not know, and I certainly do not know,” said Kleiman.
Even with the Warriors, however, the hope has not yet given up that Durant will stay beyond the season. Following the victory in Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers, The Athletic hooked up owner Joe Lacob to see if this team, including the on-going free agent Klay Thompson, could stay together.
“The season is still up,” he replied. “We are not done yet, and I do not have any new data or ideas yet, we will try to keep both, and we are confident that we can BOTH, we love Klay and KD, but it is their decision, they have deserved this right, our goal is to keep the team together, we’re pretty good.”
According to the report, although Durant has not given any indication that he wants to stay with the Warriors, they will try everything and offer him a Supermax contract for five years as soon as possible. KD would be the second player in Golden State alongside Stephen Curry with such a contract. After the sweep against Portland, the Warriors are in the NBA Finals for the fifth time in a row – what the legendary Boston Celtics of the 1960s had last managed. Basketball will be played in the meantime. While Durant missed the entire Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers with a calf strain and head coach Steve Kerr did not want to say for sure when he would be back, Lacob expects his return to the finals.
Regarding the question of whether Golden State is really better after Portland was so convincingly beaten without Durant, Lacob countered with the following (via The Athletic): “People forget as fast as everyone in Round 1 and 2 said Kevin was the best player in the world and dominated, he was incredibly important, but unfortunately he got hurt, but he’s coming back for the finals, and the story is not fully written yet.”
The Warriors are still waiting for their opponent in the finals. After the Toronto Raptors were able to equalize 2-2 in Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks, the series will go through at least six games. The finals will start on May 30th, so Durant has plenty of time to recover.