SAN FRANCISCO -- On Friday, the Warriors gave several media outlets a guided tour of Chase Center, the arena still under construction but scheduled to open next September, or two months after Kevin Durant decides where he wants to play.
It was quickly evident they want Durant to be there -- as a member of the Warriors.
Billed as tour in conjunction with the announcement of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) as a founding partner of the arena, Durant was on the premises and his convenience and comfort -- now and in the future -- clearly were a priority.
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This was another in a series of efforts as part of the ongoing re-recruitment of Durant, who plans to opt out of his contract in July and become an unrestricted free agent. He has not committed to the Warriors, or any other franchise, beyond this season.
But there is no mistaking he was the featured member of the touring group, as Warriors COO Rick Welts and GSW Arena COO Stephen Collins, who oversees the arena project, mostly escorted and addressed Durant while about 25 others tagged along.
“I’ve got to play a game right now,” Durant said, scanning the interior skeleton of the arena. “I’m excited about this.
“The fans are going to love it.”
It’s an impressive structure, no doubt, and Collins and Welts sought to ensure Durant was aware of the various amenities, including a interior parking area for players, practice courts separate from the game court and, pointing out an option that sent a grin across Durant’s face, a barber shop adjacent to the practice locker room.
As for the space designated for a massive exterior video board, Durant had a simple description: “Sick.”
While Durant clearly liked what he saw -- “My imagination is going wild with the possibilities,” -- he didn’t dare hint where he would play next season. It’s a question the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP says he doesn’t plan to answer in the course of this season.
Though multiple teams are making pitches in hopes of securing Durant’s services, the Warriors are in position to offer a bigger contract than any other team should he opt out. Insofar as he will have been with the Warriors three consecutive years, they’ll own his Bird rights, exclusively giving them the option to present a five-year deal at a projected at about $220 million. And he has said he’s taking no more discounted deals.
The Warriors wouldn’t do that, not after Durant has done them favors by signing below-market deals the past two summers. This franchise under CEO Joe Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber doesn’t cut corners on important matters.
As Welts explained, the Lacob-Guber approach is to zoom right past good and better, shooting for fantastic.
And Durant’s future is an important matter. This event was conceived to announce a partnership, which happened. It was billed as a tour of the facility, which also happened.
But it would not have been the same without Durant. His presence was not only desired but an opportunity for Warriors ownership and management to express their desire to keep him around well beyond this season.
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