Widespread whispers of Kevin Durant potentially joining the Golden State Warriors as a free agent first surfaced last February. After signing with the two-time defending Western Conference champions, the 2014 MVP admitted that relationships forged with Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala during the 2010 FIBA World Championships contributed to his decision, too.
Needless to say, there were several indications well before free agency began on July 1 or even before the 2015-16 season ended that Durant might sign with the Warriors. None of them, though, were quite so illuminating as what departed Golden State and current Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Last year in Golden State was an amazing season for a lot of reasons. Here you guys are setting an NBA record, trying to chase a championship, and you’re dealing with Kevin Durant rumors the entire season. You’re smart enough to know exactly what that means. What was that experience like for you?
A.B.: That’s part of the business. I think the deal was done long before the summer. I think it was done — obviously, K.D. didn’t make his concrete decision, but I think our organization knew for a while what was going to happen. That’s just a part of it. Andre Iguodala and I knew it was one of us that was going to go, and it was me. That’s part of the business. I have no gripes about it. You get a Hall of Famer — he’s going to be a Hall of Famer — in K.D. If I’m the GM, I do the same deal. That’s just the reality of the business.
Quick, alert Adam Silver! The Warriors were definitely tampering! There’s no way they could have known Durant would eventually end up in Oakland without hearing it from the horse’s mouth himself!
Well, not actually.
For one, Bogut isn’t exactly afraid to stir the pot through the media. He’s been prone to unleash some incendiary quotes over the years. Also, it was pretty much common knowledge throughout the league that he or Andre Iguodala would have to go for Golden State to dip far enough below the cap to accommodate Durant’s maximum salary. Owning up to that reality is no indication the Warriors’ brass felt any certainty whatsoever about landing free agency’s biggest fish.
Lastly, Golden State owner Joe Lacob literally just told a story – which was confirmed by the most important party in question, by the way – about his surprise Durant chose the Warriors. Could he be lying? Sure, but needlessly opening that can of worms to public scrutiny sure would be a questionable tactic.
Bottom line: It’s safe to say that Golden State’s front office, the Warriors’ incumbent players, and Durant himself all knew this was a possibility. That it came to pass doesn’t suggest tampering or anything else that toes the line of league rules, despite Bogut’s implication otherwise.