All season long there’s been reports that Kevin Durant leaving the Golden State Warriors was a likely scenario.
Just one day into free agency those rumors came to fruition. Durant announced he was signing with the Brooklyn Nets to team up with Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.
Obviously, the loss of Durant is significant not only to their team but also their dynasty run. But rather than march on and hope for the best with what they got, the Warriors finessed their way into adding an elite piece to keep the dynasty hopes alive.
With Brooklyn adding two superstars it meant they would have to part ways with former No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell. Reports surfaced that Russell could potentially be in play for the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Los Angeles Lakers until Golden State came calling.
The Warriors were able to retool their roster after the Nets agreed to a sign-and-trade with Golden State. The former champs are giving Russell a max deal that will pay the Ohio State product nearly $30 million a year.
Russell is coming off an All-Star season averaging 21.2 points and seven assists while leading Brooklyn to an unexpected playoff berth. He’ll team up with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to help them prolong their dynasty run.
While this move won’t make them presumptive favorites, it’ll keep them competitive. In fact, this move is crucial to their dynasty for a couple of reasons.
For starters, it makes their team younger. Because Russell was given a max contract, the Warriors had to move on from Andre Iguodala, who was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Despite his production during their five-year run, Golden State looked old down the stretch last season being consistently banged up. Couple that with the little depth they possessed and they looked like a team hooked up to life support by the end of the NBA Finals.
Not only did they get younger, but they now have someone who can relieve Curry at times in the game until Thompson recovers from his torn ACL. We saw during the finals that the two-time MVP Curry can score at will, putting up 47 points in Game 3 of the NBA Finals as the lone scorer. But they still came up short.
And that was just one game. Imagine Curry having to do that every night for his team to have a chance. He’d either be gassed by the end of the year or teams would double him to take him out of the game.
Russell’s ability to create his own shot, be a three level scorer and service as a floor general now keeps the Warriors offense dangerous. It also allows Curry to effectively play as an off the ball point guard.
Sure, Russell is no Durant. And yes spending a lot of money to add to your already talented back court might seem like they panicked.
But at just 23-years-old, there’s a chance we have yet to see the best from Russell still. Maybe Steve Kerr and the Warriors can tap into his potential.
And if it doesn’t work out, that’s alright. They could flip him as an asset next year for another piece. A young point guard with Russell’s ability could net them a quality return.
Golden State might have lost KD but to be able to recoup an asset like Russell in return was huge and might have extended their dynasty a few more years.