OAKLAND -- Kevin Durant will be back with the Warriors next season because it’s what he wants and because he’s man enough to dismiss the tone-deaf “humor” tossed his way before the championship parade on Tuesday.
Growing up where he grew up, and how he grew up, Durant has heard much worse.
He’s the surest of seven free agents to return to the Warriors next season. There is no way the other six all avoid the roster turnover that begins next month.
“The safe thing to say is we’re not going to have the same look next year, in terms of having five or six vets,” coach Steve Kerr says. “We’re going to be younger. We’re going to have more youth, more energy to help us through the regular season.
“But it’s impossible to predict what the roster is going to look like.”
Here is a look at the other six free agents, in alphabetical order, and their chances of returning next season:
Forward/center Kevon Looney (2015 draft pick): Last October, with uncertainty surrounding his future after two hip surgeries, the Warriors declined to pick up his option for 2018-19. In retrospect, they would change that decision. Looney, 22, started six playoff games at center and appeared in all 21 postseason games. He can expect offers, particularly from rebuilding teams, but he loves being a Warrior. His parents also love being a part of this franchise. Though there is a limit to what the Warriors can offer ($2.2 million), they could benefit from other teams wondering if his body can handle the demands of a full-time starter.
Chance that Looney returns: 40 percent.
Guard Patrick McCaw (from the 2016 draft): The Warriors love his composure and his eagerness to play defense, guarding multiple positions. Though he was more effective as a rookie than he was in Year 2, there is no question they want him on board; veteran Andre Iguodala refers to McCaw as the guy who eventually will replace him. McCaw, 22, is a restricted free agent coming off a scary injury to his spine in April. Though he recovered well enough to play limited minutes late in the postseason, that injury might scare off some teams. The Warriors hope so. But all it takes is one team willing to pay more than they’re willing to match.
Chance that McCaw returns: 45 percent.
Center JaVale McGee (re-signed as a free agent last summer): McGee came to the Warriors two seasons ago as a player with specific skills in need of an image makeover. The 7-footer succeeded, becoming a significant contributor to a team that won back-to-back championships. The Warriors were willing to listen to trade offers before the February deadline, but got nothing they liked. So McGee remained and started Games 2, 3 and 4 of The Finals. He is a role player, though, and his effectiveness is limited to about 15 minutes per game. He’s 30, still young enough to be attractive, but the Warriors are eyeing Damian Jones as the heir apparent.
Chance that McGee returns: 15 percent.
Center Zaza Pachulia (re-signed as a free agent last summer): He went from being the most frequent starting center in the regular season to averaging barely one minute per game in the postseason. The upshot is that when the Warriors opt to match up with teams playing smaller, agile centers, Pachulia’s 6-11, 270-pound frame is not the answer. That and his age, 34, all but assure his time with the Warriors has come to an end.
Chance Pachulia returns: 1 percent.
Center/forward David West (re-signed as a free agent last summer): He had a terrific first half, and then tailed off to merely solid over the final three months. No other “big” on the roster can match West’s adroit passing and midrange shooting. He also serves as a locker room sage. He turns 38 in August, though, and is considering retirement. He has indicated to NBC Sports Bay Area that if he were to continue, it would only be with the Warriors. We have reason to believe he is leaning toward moving into the next phase of his life.
Chance that West returns: 10 percent.
Guard/forward Nick Young (signed with the midlevel exception last summer): Young was signed to bolster the team’s 3-point shooting off the bench. The Warriors finished 29th in bench 3-point makes (2.1 per game) without Young in 2016-17. They finished 30th, dead last, with him in 2017-18. As the Warriors went deeper into the postseason, his defense was more useful than his offense. Young’s relatively poor conditioning became a source of humor in the locker room. At age 33, it’s hard to imagine the Warriors bringing him back for another year.
Chance that Young returns: 1 percent.