Could Durant Leave the Warriors in Free Agency?

Could Kevin Durant leave the Golden State Warriors this summer? Well, of course he could. He already left one franchise — the Oklahoma City Thunder — via free agency in 2016, and he could do the same to the super team by The Bay. Not saying that he would, but the point is he could. And maybe he should. He is, after all, a free agent.

But would Durant actually leave the Warriors?

There are signs that point to that eventuality. The one-plus-one contract — essentially a one-year deal as the plus-one is a player’s option — is particularly ominous as it shows an apprehension on his part to stick around. Then there was the early-season spat with Draymond Green, when Green dared Durant to bolt. Sources allege that the mercurial Swiss Army knife told Durant something along the lines of “We don’t need you. We won without you. Leave.” The two-time Finals MVP, as expected, downplayed the argument in a Yahoo! Sports interview. He noted that the incident wouldn’t factor into his free agency decision, saying that he just wants to play where he’s comfortable.

Durant talking to Yahoo! Sports

Now, will Durant be comfortable playing for another season — let alone a few more years —with Green? Even Durant himself has admitted that Green “says some crazy [expletive] out his mouth all the time,” and the admission is proof enough of the interesting dynamics between the two forwards. Besides, it would be hard to believe that said incident didn’t bother Durant, given how onion-skinned he has been in his dealings with the media, particularly with things related to his upcoming free agency. Recently, Durant even blasted the media, with ESPN reporting noting Durant’s anger on the scrutiny around his future. He vehemently denied an imminent move to the New York Knicks, which he has been heavily linked to.

Also worth noting will be Durant’s motivation for the future. From all indications, money won’t make the four-time scoring champ tick. He’s already a multimillionaire, with an article on the highest earning sport stars by Ladbrokes, detailing how he earns millions in wages alone plus a whole lot more in endorsement deals. He has taken to investing, too, buying a stake in the app Acorns.

The point here is that Durant probably won’t be attracted by the biggest bidder (the Warriors, in this case). Whether he admits it or not, Durant is seeking some validation, and “shots” like the one he took at LeBron James seem to prove as much. Durant threw shade at James by stating in an interview that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are “by far better than anybody who’s played the game” even as LeBron’s name has recently been thrown in GOAT conversations.  

This outright dismissal of a peer seems to suggest insecurity, caused largely by not being held in the same light as James. And maybe Durant really isn’t on James’s level given how he only won after joining an already championship caliber team, that already had an alpha in Stephen Curry. There is, therefore, incentive for Durant to distance himself from the super team he helped build and form his own contender team somewhere else. Fact is, Durant won’t ever be in any GOAT talk if he stays in The Bay, where he’ll be co-alpha with Curry — the best player on a team with several great players. In other words, leaving Golden State will be a legacy-defining move for the infamously thin-skinned Durant. Simply put, Durant can win a championship in Golden State and be a part of a constellation of stars. On the other hand, he can win a championship in, say, New York and be the unquestioned star of stars.  

So, could Durant leave the Warriors? Absolutely. Should he leave? For his legacy, yes. Would he actually leave? That’s anyone’s guess.

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