Kevin Durant's looming NBA free agency could be an issue for the Golden State Warriors despite their impressive 12-3 start to the season.
The Warriors haven't had too much public drama since signing Durant as a free agent in 2016, but that changed Monday night when him and teammate Draymond Green got into a heated verbal exchange after Green wasn't able to get off a potential game-winning shot against the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant wanted the ball, but Green got the rebound and dribbled down court. He turned over the ball and the Warriors eventually won in overtime.
Durant and Green argued with each other on the bench, and among the things reportedly said was Green grilling Durant over his impending free agency. KD has a player option for the 2019-20 season, but if he turns that down he can become an unrestricted free agent in July. Tons of rumors have flown about over where he could go if he leaves Golden State, and one Warriors player isn't confident at all that Durant will remain with the team after this season.
“With what was said, there is already no way Durant is coming back,” an anonymous Warriors player told The Athletic's Marcus Thompson. “The only hope is that they can say this summer, ‘See, KD. We’ve got your back. We protected you from Draymond.’”
That's a pretty honest assessment of the situation.
Durant already has won two titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards with the Warriors, and it's likely he'll add at least another championship ring to his fingers by the time he has to decide his future. It might seem foolish to leave a team that's building what could become the greatest dynasty in NBA history, but Durant has received plenty of criticism for joining a 73-win Warriors team to win his titles, so there could be motiviation for him to depart Golden State and try to build a winner where he's the undisputed face of the franchise.
In the short term, it doesn't look like the Warriors are feeling any heat over Durant's uncertain future with the franchise, although it's certainly an interesting storyline to watch as the trade deadline and playoffs near.