The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly brought the Kevin Durant sweepstakes to a close, as the Eastern Conference franchise plans to sign the former Warriors All-NBA forward to a four-year/$164 million contract.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that "Durant will join free agents Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan," who are both slated to sign free-agent deals of their own with Brooklyn. KD is reportedly signing somewhere "between $4 million and $5 million" below max-value, as is Kyrie, so that the franchise can afford to bring in all three stars.
More from Adrian Wojnarowski on Durant, free agency, and the Warriors:
Leading up to free agency, Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman had been in New York, where they mulled the star forward's free-agency options. Durant had been considering a number of scenarios, including a return to Golden State, while the LA Clippers also were believed to be a consideration beyond Brooklyn and the Knicks, sources had told ESPN.
Durant and Kleiman met with Warriors general manager Bob Myers on Sunday in New York and delivered him the news on the decision to leave Golden State, league sources told ESPN. The other teams were informed later in the day.
Sources have also reported that Warriors All-NBA point guard Steph Curry was headed to New York to speak with Durant, presumably about returning to the Bay Area:
Brooklyn, of course, will most likely play the entire 2019-'20 season without the services of KD, as the two-time NBA Finals MVP recovers from the ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. However, the upside to landing a generational talent like Durant clearly sold the Nets' front office.
As for the Warriors, one big question mark is now taken off the board, freeing the franchise up to pursue locking up All-Star guard Klay Thompson. NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole reassured Dubs fans Sunday evening that the Splash Brothers would indeed remain intact for the foreseeable future:
Re: Klay Thompson's contract -- Not publicizing a deal today does not mean there's no deal. 'Nothing has changed,' according to a source.— Monte Poole (@MontePooleNBCS) July 1, 2019
Upshot: With Klay still set to sign when moratorium lifts (July 6), Warriors can place time/energy on other needs.
Poole had previously reported that the Warriors were prepared to offer Thompson a five-year/$190 million max contract, which Klay is expected to sign. Assuming all goes as planned with Klay, the next move would be to improve the roster around the nucleus of the Splash Brothers and Draymond Green.
This brings us to another heartbreaking departure of a dearly-beloved Warrior: Andre Iguodala.
In their quest to find multiple players to help fill the KD-sized void now threatening the Dubs' immediate future, sources are reporting that Golden State's brass has decided to bring in the former-Lakers first-round pick (Ohio State), PG D'Angelo Russell via a "sign-and-trade" deal:
D'Angelo Russell nearly logged more pick-and-rolls last season (915) than the entire Golden State Warriors team (995), per Synergy data.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) July 1, 2019
My thoughts on the Golden State Warriors' stunning rebrand: https://t.co/HxZ9B4f5xc
Where Iggy factors into the equation is desperately needed cap space. If the Warriors want to retain the services of Klay and add Russell, that will add two new max-contracts to the books. Golden State will be left with the prospect of filling their remaining roster spots with players willing to settle for "vet minimums" and the"mini-mid level exception" (up to three-years/$18 million max total). Just to fit the two max deals, a player of Iguodala's value, though aged and diminished, is still beyond the Dubs' reach. Therefore, Andre was included in the Russell three-team trade, sending Iguodala and a 2024 protected first-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Most of the early analysis on the transactions mention the incredible offensive potential that Russell will bring to the Bay. However, with Klay sidelined for perhaps the entire 2019-'20 season, the Warriors, as currently constructed, will be much more vulnerable defensively than fans have seen during the Steve Kerr era. With that in mind, GM Bob Myers' responsibility now involves finding a suitable defensive-minded replacement for Iguodala and watching carefully what happens with Kevon Looney, DeMarcus Cousins, and Quinn Cook in free-agency.
One thing is for sure: Official free-agent signing season opens this Saturday, and the Golden State Warriors will have to finds some "diamonds in the rough," heading into a season without KD, Klay, or Iggy. Stay posted. It's a long summer.