Warriors

NBA rumors: Why Kevin Durant would want to leave Warriors for Knicks

NBA rumors: Why Kevin Durant would want to leave Warriors for Knicks

By now, all the talk of Kevin Durant's impending free agency is getting on everyone's nerves, including his.

With the Warriors in the thick of a first-round playoff battle with the Los Angeles Clippers, the talk surrounding Durant continues to center on his future with the two-time defending NBA champions.

Durant can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, a decision everyone expects him to make. Should the two-time NBA Finals MVP choose to leave the Bay Area, most expect him to pack his bags for the Big Apple and join the New York Knicks, with the Clippers being viewed as a distant second choice.

While Durant has said many times that he hasn't made up his mind about what his future holds, a new report from ESPN's Ian Begley suggests Durant and the Knicks are all but a done deal, and several of his teammates reportedly believe Durant is headed to New York.

If that is the case, and Durant does leave the Warriors after two -- or perhaps three -- titles, the biggest remaining question will be: Why?

Why would Durant leave one of the NBA's greatest dynasties for the dysfunction and disarray of the Knicks?

Well, one executive told Begley the reason for the likely move to Madison Square Garden is quite simple.

"One opposing executive monitoring Durant's situation closely believes that the opportunity to win in New York -- and push the notion that he jumped on the bandwagon to win rings in Oakland from the forefront of fans' consciousness -- is a pull for the two-time Finals MVP," Begley wrote.

It's all about how he is viewed in the public eye.

"Winning there would change the narrative around him," one executive told Begley.

[RELATED: Dubs playing good kind of blame game after Game 5 loss]

Ever since Durant joined the Warriors in the summer of 2016, he's been chastised by the public and media at large for chasing rings. Despite being voted Finals MVP for both of the Warriors' title runs since he came aboard, Durant has not received the validation that he deserves and clearly wants.

Perhaps he can get that in New York. Or perhaps he'll get it if the Warriors run through the Western Conference en route to a third consecutive NBA title.

Warriors guard Ky Bowman won't play vs. Jazz, will make G League debut

Warriors guard Ky Bowman won't play vs. Jazz, will make G League debut

The Warriors will fly to Utah on Thursday for a matchup against the Jazz on Friday.

But two-way guard Ky Bowman will not board the flight.

Instead, he will head down to Santa Cruz to make his G League debut Friday night, the team announced Thursday morning.

When D'Angelo Russell missed nine games from Nov. 17 to Dec. 2, Bowman averaged 12.6 points, 4.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 31.7 minutes.

But with D-Lo back in the lineup the last four games, Bowman's numbers have dipped to 6.5 points, 2.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 19.2 minutes.

Throw in the fact that guard Jacob Evans is back after missing 21 games, and it makes perfect sense to send Bowman -- who has used 31 of the maximum 45 days he can be up with Golden State -- to the Sea Dubs.

[RELATEDWarriors' Kerr hopes to ease Poole's transition to G League]

It's unclear at this point if Alen Smailagic will travel to Utah or join Bowman in Surf City.

Santa Cruz hosts the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, and tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus.

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Run TMC's return reminds Warriors of what could have been for trio

Run TMC's return reminds Warriors of what could have been for trio

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two hours before the Warriors' latest loss, organizational luminaries Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin stood in a dark corner just inside the Gatehouse adjoining Chase Center.

Seconds later -- as they'd done hundreds of times before -- they came out one by one to a screaming crowd as host Greg Papa announced each by name, creating all the makings of an on-court reunion. Except it wasn't, with athletic sneakers being replaced by orthopedic soles and a microphone in place of a basketball, the legendary triumvirate began their first of four appearances on NBC Sports Bay Area this season.

"Always look forward to it," Hardaway admitted. "You know being with my guys, hanging out with them. Talking to them is just a magical moment."

As the fans surrounding them Wednesday night already know, the trio's "Run TMC" era was more known for what could've been than the end result: A core broken before its promise was met.

Seeds of Wednesday's reunion were planted more than 30 years go when Golden State picked Mullin No. 7 overall in the 1985 NBA Draft. Three years later, after the Warriors and Mullin flirted with the idea of trading the wing to the Knicks, Golden State drafted Richmond, a burly guard from Kansas State, who led the Wildcats to the 1988 Elite Eight. A year later, Hardaway -- known for his "UTEP Two-step" crossover -- was drafted to complete the trio.

Following a 37-45 first year together, a buzz began to grow around the Bay Area. To capitalize on the attention, the San Francisco Examiner sponsored a contest to name the newly christened big three. After more than 1,500 entries -- including Joint Chiefs of Stats; Blood Thirsty Gym Rats from Hell; Heat, Meat and Sweet -- a handful of names were presented to the backcourt, who picked "Run TMC", an ode to the multiplatinum Queens-based rap group Run DMC.

"You know back then it wasn't email," Mullin remembered. "They actually wrote it down and stuck it in a ballot box. And pick one out, threw away a few. We all agreed on it. It's kind of incredible how it stuck, but it was pretty cool."

Over the next six months, the group would help the Warriors build one of the most prolific offenses of all-time. In 82 games, Golden State averaged 116.6 points per contest as Richmond, Mullin and Hardaway accounted 72.5 points per game. Each player ranked in the top 20 in scoring, helping the Warriors win 44 games, securing a playoff berth as the No. 7 seed. For context on the advanced offense, the trio's scoring averaged wasn't surpassed until 2017, when Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry averaged 72.7 points per game.

In their first game of the 1991 season, the Warriors scored a league-record 162 points, beating the Denver Nuggets by four in the highest-scoring regulation game in NBA history. The key to the offense was coach Don Nelson, whose wide-open system gave the league a change of pace from the rugged style of the early 90s.

"They were a dynamic scoring trio," Warriors coach Steve Kerr remembered. "If you remember the league at that time it had gotten really physical and everybody was betting the hell out of each other and you had these three guys on the West Coast who were running around having a really good time."

The strategy worked in the first round of the NBA playoffs when the Dubs knocked off the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs in five games. But they may have cultivated their own demise a week later when they invited Run DMC on the team bus to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena ahead of Game 3 of Western Conference finals against the Lakers. Days removed from a Game 2 road win at the Forum, the Queens-based group announced the Warriors starting lineup as Magic Johnson, James Worthy and the rest of the Lakers seethed on the other end of the court.

"Everybody was excited and how can we match up that hype? You know, Run TMC, let's do Run DMC, you know what I mean?" Mullin said. "So it was a perfect fit on a not a perfect night. Not at all."

The Lakers placed Johnson on Hardaway and Worthy on Mullin, who hit just 4-of-14 shots from the field after scoring 41 in Game 2. The Warriors hit just one field goal over the final 5:50 in the third quarter, as the Lakers won 115-112, taking control of a series they'd eventually win in five games. The loss was black marked by a pregame show -- like the team -- that belonged in a different era.

"Think about that man," Mullin said Wednesday. "That was ahead of its time. Now rappers are at all the games, right? So that might've pissed off the Lakers, but looking back ..."

"That's how it all started," Richmond chimed in.

Five months later, any future plans for progression imploded when Nelson traded Richmond to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for 6-foot-9 power forward Billy Owens, the third pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. The move was a result of friction between Richmond and Nelson, coupled with the league-wide assumption that a championship could not be won without a formidable frontcourt presence. It left the team in shock.

"I didn't feel that that time," Richmond said. "It was a lot of sh-t going on. I was numb."

"It was kind of tough to deal with when he got traded," Hardaway added. "That was like the beginning to the end. That was our brother, that was our family, you know, and he's getting traded away from us. You're not going to see me not hang out with him. We had a heck of a team, but it was just, it was just a void."

In the short term, the move helped Golden State. The Warriors won 55 games a year later, as Owens earned All-Rookie honors after averaging nearly 15 points per game. However, over the next 15 years, Golden State only reached the postseason once, becoming one of the worst organizations in professional sports.

"We had so much success in the years that we played together and usually when you have success with a unit like that, you tend to stick them together," Richmond said. "And so our short period of time together, we always get together and say, "What if? What if that happened?" So I know me going to Sacramento and not having these guys with me was a tough task."

[RELATED: Rehabbing Klay drills halfcourt shot at Chase Center]

Late Wednesday night, the group's impact on Golden State lore was evident. Following the player introductions, each man slapped hands with fans, played pop-a-shot on live television and discussed the current iteration of the Warriors. But like each time they come back as one, a cloud remained of a destiny unfulfilled.

"It's fun to play the 'What if?' game, especially cause you're never going to know," Mullin said. "So like tonight we're going to say we would have won five champions to the right, no doubt about that. It'll leave you scratching your head. That's part of being in it, you know?"