It's a potential reality that has become impossible for the Warriors and their fans to ignore, given recent developments: At least one of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson -- both scheduled to become free agents at season's end -- could be wearing a different jersey next season.
The Knicks have opened up massive salary-cap space and are rumored to be making a run at Durant. Lakers fans were chanting 'WE WANT THOMPSON' from the upper deck of Oracle Arena on Saturday night, although Klay said he didn't hear them.
The fact that both All-Stars would be attractive targets for other teams comes as no surprise, both because of their individual talent level and the general collective desire to bring an end to Golden State's hegemony. However, if either Durant or Thompson plays somewhere other than Golden State, it won't be because the Warriors were unwilling to pay enough to keep them.
In a conversation with The Athletic's Tim Kawakami, Warriors owner Joe Lacob said cost wouldn't be a prohibitive factor in keeping the team's current trajectory going.
"We can do whatever we want (financially),” Lacob said. “And you should expect that that’s not going to be a reason this team … doesn’t stay great going forward. We have the capital to pay our players what they deserve. And we will."
As Kawakami notes, that's a slightly different tone than Lacob has struck in the past, when he's at times indicated there might come a point when cost outgrows resources. The fact that the opening of Chase Center -- and the immense resulting cash flow -- are imminent likely is part of the reason why.
Even if the Warriors lose Durant or Thompson despite their best efforts, it won't change their approach to roster building.
"I think we’ll continue to have a good team, if not a great team, and try to hopefully be a title-contending team for as long as we can," Lacob told Kawakami. "We’ll be aggressive. Nobody’s going to outspend us. Nobody’s going to outwork us."
While it's a fun exercise to postulate who the Warriors' backup plans might involve, perhaps even years down the road -- Kawakami offers up names such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns -- Lacob and the Warriors remain fully intent on keeping this current group together.
"All I can say right now is I think we love our roster with all our players, the coaching staff," Lacob said. "I think we’re in a really good spot. I can only say, we’ll evaluate at the end of the season and sort of see if anything’s changed from where we are today. Right now, it looks pretty good.
"This is probably our best roster ever."