With the NBA free agency extravaganza just around the corner, all 30 teams are steeling themselves for multiple contingencies regarding the future. For the Golden State Warriors, never has their future looked more uncertain than it does right now.
Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant both suffered catastrophic injuries in the Finals, which will likely sideline them both for most or all of next season. Complicating matters even more is that they’re both set to enter free agency when the clock strikes 6 p.m. on June 30.
The Warriors, for their part, won’t waste any time in offering them both max contracts. All indications point to Thompson getting a max offer and remaining with the team that drafted him and where’s he’s won multiple championships. It’s a bit trickier for Durant, who is rumored to want to continue his career elsewhere.
With that in mind, the Warriors have to prepare contingency plans of their own, and according to the latest reports, that may include setting their sights on retaining another injured player, DeMarcus Cousins, and possibly building around him, at least for next season.
If a deal to sign and trade Durant can’t be worked out, the Warriors have the option of trying to retain DeMarcus Cousins. Under the rules, the Warriors can offer Cousins a salary of only $6.8 million for next season. He could very likely earn more elsewhere, and the Warriors have long prepared to lose him.
However, if Cousins were willing to return, the Warriors could build some of their offense around him from the start of the season and feature him more, something that was impossible to do last season as he was recovering from an Achilles tear. That could be attractive to Cousins if he can’t find a long-term deal and wants to continue to rebuild his value. The 2020 free-agent class is more shallow than this summer’s, which might convince some players to take one-year deals.
Cousins was never quite able to regain his groove with the Warriors after sustaining another injury in the playoffs, but the organization might very well talk itself into believing that a full summer to recover might put him back on the fast track to health and productivity for next season.
No doubt the Warriors will still explore plenty of other options on the free agent market, especially if they are forced into the situation of a sign-and-trade with Durant, which could potentially open up more than $37 million in cap space on a trade exception.