Durant to Warriors: Trades for beaten champs

VideoImageNBA: Steph Curry had a few choice words for Lebron after copping a big block from the Cavs superstar.

Kevin Durant.But the Warriors are well positioned to contend for championships for years to come — their three best players, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green — are all young (28, 26, and 26, respectively) and are perfectly suited to succeed in an NBA that is rapidly evolving towards more pacing and shooting.The Warriors have almost no threat of losing any of those three core players either: Green has four years remaining on his contract, Thompson has three years left on his team-friendly deal, and Curry is poised to receive a max deal next summer when the salary cap is expected to go above $100 million.HOW CURRY HAD WORST NBA FINALS IN HISTORY FOR MVPThe Warriors’ core is set, but given the disappointment of the worst NBA Finals collapse in history, big moves might be on the horizon — perhaps even a move that would add another start to the team’s already packed lineup.The main target is one that, if the Warriors signed him, would turn the league upside down: Kevin Durant.Stephen Curry speaks with Kevin Durant after the Western Conference Finals.Source:Getty Images

The Durant-to-Golden State talk has died down significantly in recent weeks, following the Warriors and Thunder’s amazing seven-game Western Conference Finals series, but it has not exited the realm of possibility.It’s hard not to immediately think of Durant when Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob says that his team will be “very aggressive” when he’s asked what’s next for his team.But to bring in Durant would require the Warriors to break up the starting lineup of the greatest regular-season team in NBA history.

That’s because the only way Golden State — which will have roughly $75 million committed to next year (not including cap holds) against a $94 million cap — can make a move to sign a big-name free agent is to move on from Harrison Barnes.The Warriors wing turned down a $64 million deal from the Warriors before the season started, and while he’s expected to fetch far more than that in an offer sheet this summer, Barnes’ poor performances in the final three games of the Finals will leave a sour taste in many mouths. The Warriors might feel inclined to move on from Barnes, especially considering there’s almost no way he returns to the Warriors next year without being the team’s highest-paid player. The Warriors have a strong locker room, but it’s probably not that strong.Whether Durant is coming or not, the Warriors might opt to move on from Barnes.Harrison Barnes may be priced out of the Golden State Warriors’ future plans.Source:AFPThe Warriors will also have to make a decision on restricted free agent Festus Ezeli. Despite the backup centre’s poor turn as a starter in Game 7 of the Finals, Ezeli was an improved performer for the Warriors this season, and his size, defensive abilities, and the increase in the cap (which makes putting in big offer sheets to RFAs much easier) will make him a viable candidate to land a big sheet. The Warriors can match with relative impunity (same goes for Barnes) but will Golden State want to jeopardise their future salary cap flexibility to sign a mercurial player (or two)?The Warriors could maintain some of that salary cap flexibility, even if they sign both Ezeli and Barnes to new-cap-sized deals, by trading Andrew Bogut ($12.6 million, entering last year of contract) or Andre Iguodala ($11 million, entering last year of contract.)Either option is less than advantageous, as it jettisons the better player at the position to keep a younger option. It’s a big bet on Barnes and Ezeli — similar to the bet the Warriors made in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Those bets did not pay out.There are only three players who should be expected to get a max offer on the free agent market this summer, but the Warriors could be interested in two. Durant is a well-discussed given. The other is centre Al Horford.Atlanta Hawks centre Al Horford may be an option for the Warriors.Source:APComing from “Spurs East” in Atlanta, Horford’s style of play would fit the Warriors exceptionally, and his personality is such that it’s unlikely he’d have any problem being the fourth or fifth option in the Warriors’ best lineup. The league might be moving to smallball, but the 6-foot-6 Green cannot play centre for 40 minutes a nigh…

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