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."
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."