Warriors in unusual position entering critical summer of uncertainty

Warriors in unusual position entering critical summer of uncertainty

OAKLAND -- For the last five years, Warriors coach Steve Kerr typically has sat atop Rakuten Performance Center with the confidence his team will have the league's best chance to reach the NBA Finals.

In the last week -- with injuries to Golden State's star players putting the team's future success in peril -- that expectation has changed.

"It's hard to even picture, you know, what next year's team will look like at this point," Kerr said Friday afternoon. "We'll see how it all shakes out."

While the Warriors’ first summer priority will to retain Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in free agency, both will be rehabbing from potentially career-altering injuries. Thompson, who tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, will command a max deal, as will Durant, who is expected to miss next season while he recovers from a torn Achilles.

As recently as the start of the playoffs, many within the Warriors organization were resigned to the notion that Durant -- who can terminate his player option this summer -- would not be in a Golden State uniform next season. However, with Durant's recent injury, those fears could subside. Under his current contract, Durant can opt into his $31.5 million option. If he decides to opt out, the two-time Finals MVP could sign a five-year, $221 million contract.

"I have no idea what Kevin's going to do," Kerr said. "I know that we all want him back, and we think this is a great situation for him and, you know, vice versa. So hopefully we get him back and keep this thing going, with the understanding that he's a free agent and we want what's best for him and he's free to make any choice he wants.”

The Warriors’ summer of uncertainty extends past Durant. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney also will be free agents, and the team will have to decide whether to extend a qualifying offer to second-year big man Jordan Bell. Additionally, with Shaun Livingston contemplating retirement and center Andrew Bogut heading back to Australia, the roster is expected to look drastically different in the coming months.

Since Kerr was hired in 2014, Golden State has accumulated a 322-88 (.785) regular-season record -- the best five-year run in NBA history -- and won three championships in five appearances to the Finals. With the initial success came Durant, who signed with the team in 2016 -- the summer after the Warriors won a league-record 73 games. With Durant came more winning, resulting in two straight titles. All the while, Golden State accumulated mileage, evidenced by postseason injuries to several key contributors.

"It's not easy going through these seasons, getting all the way to the Finals," Kerr said. "It takes so much energy and emotion and to do it back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back."

Despite the Warriors’ murky future, the team itself remains confident. About an hour after the team was eliminated Thursday night, veteran forward Draymond Green called any notion of the Warriors' demise "not smart," despite the roster uncertainty. Less than 24 hours later, Kerr doubled down on that stance.

"I don't look at it or think about it in those terms. I really don't," the coach said. "Steph is going to be back next year and Draymond. We’re going to have a bunch of players from here, and we can still be really good."

[RELATED: Why Warriors won't walk away from Klay, KD despite injuries]

For now, with an offseason of uncertainty ahead of the Warriors in the coming months, Kerr's season of rest seems to have come at an opportune time.

"I think everybody's fried right now," Kerr said. "That's what the summer's for, and will recharge your batteries and be ready to go in late September."

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Seven records Warriors stars Steph Curry, Draymond Green could break

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The juggernaut Warriors of the last five years are no longer, but some key star holdovers have a chance to reach some NBA records this season.

With the departures of Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and the injury to Klay Thompson, the playmaking and scoring for the Warriors will mostly fall on the shoulders of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and newly acquired D'Angelo Russell. So as the construction of the team changed dramatically, the Warriors now potentially face a struggle to play the same suffocating defense most have come accustomed to.

Instead, they will rely on a high-powered offense and individual key defensive players to lead the charge. Here are some records that they could break this season.

Most 3-pointers in a regular season: Steph Curry 402 (2015-16)

The biggest key to Curry toppling his own historic 3-point season will be staying healthy and in the lineup. Curry has not played over 70 games in a season since 2016-17, and played 79 games when he shattered the season record.

Since the Warriors might have to outscore teams in shootouts with their defense less reliable, Curry will be able to fire away with abandon. Curry hit 354 3-pointers in just 69 games last season. If he played 10 extra games and maintained his average 3-point rate, he would have broken his record.

So what else could help Curry break 402? Well, just keep reading ...

3-point attempts per game: James Harden 13.2 (2018-19)

When Curry made 402 3-pointers, he averaged 11.2 attempts per game. Last season, he averaged a career-high 11.7 3-point attempts per game. Shooting two more 3s per game is within reason, and definitely a welcome proposition for all Warriors fans. 

Most consecutive games with 5+ 3-pointers made: James Harden 12 (2018-19)

The more Steph shoots, the more he makes. Harden might be watching a few of his milestones surpassed this season.

Most 3-pointers attempted in a game: Klay Thompson 24 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Most 3-pointers made in a game: Klay Thompson 14 (Oct. 29, 2018)

Curry already jokingly (probably) proclaimed that he would shoot 22 3-pointers on opening night against the Clippers. So would you be surprised if he had a few games this season in which he launched endlessly from long range? Unfortunately for Klay, he will have to sit idly on the bench for most of the season while Curry goes after his record.

[RELATED: Steph Curry primed for another MVP season]

Most steals in a game: Larry Kenon 11 (Dec. 26, 1976), Kendall Gill 11 (April 3, 1999)

The defensive category belongs to Draymond Green, and after signing a $100 million extension and getting into the best shape of his life, he is primed for a breakout season. If last playoffs are any indicator of how he will play next season, then there are several defensive records and milestones that can be within his sights.

On Feb. 10, 2017, Green recorded a triple-double in Memphis. But it was not just any triple-double, it included 10 steals, one away from the single-game record. There will be many games next season that he will carry the team defensively, so perhaps he approaches the record again.

200 steals plus 100 blocks in one season: Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Scottie Pippen

In 2016-17, Green set a career-high 154 steals and blocked 106 shots -- down from his previous career-high of 113 the year prior. Remaining healthy and in the lineup for most of the season will be imperative for Green to even have a chance at approaching a 200-100 season.

It still is a long shot for Draymond to reach those totals, but when he is in shape, motivated and playing with fire, there's always a chance. 

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Kevin Durant rocks Nets jersey for first time since leaving Warriors

Slowly but surely, Kevin Durant is moving on from the Warriors. 

After electing to sign with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency. Durant expressed his feelings on his time in the Bay, including the elation of winning the NBA Finals and the belief that he never would be accepted in the same way Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala were.

The next step in Durant's quest to move on from the Warriors came Thursday when he donned the black and white of Brooklyn for the first time in a promotional shoot.

Seeing KD rocking a No. 7 Nets jersey is ... a little weird.

Those jerseys are clean, though,

Durant won't see the floor this season as he continues to rehab from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Once Durant is back to 100 percent, he'll join Kyrie Irving and a band of young Nets trying to take over the Eastern Conference.

[RELATED: Steph fires back at KD after criticism of Warriors offense]

As for the Warriors, they remade their roster after Durant's exit and will be looking to go back to their roots with a ball-movement centric attack that lets Curry, new addition D'Angelo Russell and Thompson -- when he returns from his torn ACL -- torment opposing defenses.