Injuries, free agency cloud Warriors’ future

Sports

The Golden State Warriors’ offseason of uncertainty has begun.

Jun 13, 2019; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) reacts after being fouled by Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green (14) during the second half in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit:Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

One day after the Toronto Raptors eliminated Golden State from the NBA Finals in six games, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers met with the media Friday, although few answers are readily available for a dynasty that faces multiple key questions.

There were no guarantees that stars Klay Thompson (unrestricted free agent) and Kevin Durant ($31.5 million player option) would return for the 2019-20 season — and that was before each sustained a major injury in the Finals. Durant ruptured his right Achilles tendon in Game 5; Thompson tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in Game 6.

“Everything that happened up until five days ago was just basketball and people and bumps in the road,” Kerr said. “But when you’re talking about two career-altering injuries to two of your best players in back-to-back Finals games, unheard of. It will probably never happen again. We’re in new territory now.”

Thompson and Durant could each miss all or most of next season, although they still would have ample suitors in free agency.

“We value those guys at the highest level,” Myers said. “Those are guys you do everything you can to keep within your organization.”

If Durant declines his player option, he could re-sign with the Warriors on a max deal worth about $220 million over five years.

“The injury throws everything for a loop, so I have no idea what Kevin is going to do,” Kerr said. “I know that we all want him back. We think this is a great situation for him and vice versa. Hopefully, we get him back and keep this thing going.”

A five-year max deal for Thompson would come in at about $190 million.

Kerr called Thompson “one of the great competitors I have ever been around,” and the Warriors might have good news on that front, inasmuch as the guard’s father, Mychal Thompson, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday that there is “no question” his son will re-sign with the Warriors.

Kerr, however, seemed resigned to losing center DeMarcus Cousins, who signed a discounted $5.3 million, one-year deal last summer as he was coming off a torn Achilles.

“I think there’s a chance,” Kerr said of Cousins’ potential return to Golden State. “I think the hope is, frankly, that he can do a lot better financially than what we could offer him, but who knows?

“This summer is going to be a wild free agent market, and we have to figure our situation with Klay and Kevin and how all that shakes out, but I could absolutely foresee a place for DeMarcus here if he wanted to come back. It’s a matter of what are his goals, what’s out there for him.”

Golden State has reached the NBA Finals in five consecutive seasons, winning the title in 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Warriors can count on the tandem of stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green next season, but almost everything after that is something of a mystery.

“We talk often about how lucky we are to play basketball for a living, coach basketball for a living … but it can be taken away quickly,” Kerr said. “This week has been proof of that.”

—Field Level Media

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