For most of the 2018–19 NBA season, it looked like a foregone conclusion that Kevin Durant would head to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and finish his time with the Golden State Warriors. A major blowup in November between him and Draymond Green seemed to be the breaking point on his relationship with the franchise.
Green publicly called out Durant for not committing to the team on a long-term contract. Although the two players worked things out, it was a dark cloud looming over the team with the rest of the season. After signing a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, Durant has decided to become the face of another New York franchise.
The Warriors ownership group has decided to make a remarkable gesture on his behalf and have done something for Durant that you don’t see from most teams in professional sports.
What did the Warriors do?
The Warriors decided to retire Kevin Durant’s No. 35 jersey. The reason this move is so unprecedented is that Durant didn’t retire, and he wasn’t at the tail end of his career when he joined the team. On top of that, he didn’t spend a majority of his time in the NBA with the Warriors.
Career with Golden State
After a huge amount of backlash for joining Golden State, Durant turned the Warriors into an even scarier team in 2016-17. They faced off in a rematch against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in his first season with the team and Durant dominated the series.
He was named NBA Finals MVP and captured the first championship of his career. The 2017-18 season was also a good one for the Warriors, as they finished with the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, and then met Cleveland in the NBA Finals again.
The series started off with an unforgettable Game 1, as a major blunder by JR Smith helped the Warriors take an early advantage in the series. They would go on to win in five games, and Durant won his second straight Finals MVP award.
This past season seemed like another great opportunity for the Warriors championship hopes, but Durant injured a calf muscle in the first round against the Clippers. When he returned in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, he ruptured his Achilles, which will cost him all of next season.
There’s no doubt he was effective during his Golden State stint. During his time in the Bay Area, Kevin Durant averaged 25 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting 52% from the field.
Kevin Durant moves to Brooklyn
There were rumblings throughout much of the season that Durant and Kyrie Irving would team up together in New York. What many didn’t believe is that they would team up with together in Brooklyn, as the Nets allowed D’Angelo Russell to execute a sign-and-trade deal with Golden State to free up enough cap room to land both of the NBA stars.
The move to Brooklyn could make them one of the best teams in the East, as they still have a good nucleus of players that can make them a top-five team next season. Everyone has their sights set on the 2020-21 season, as Durant should be completely healthy at the start of the season. Brooklyn could be a championship caliber team by this time next year.
Where do the Warriors go from here?
The Warriors re-signed Klay Thompson on a five-year max contract. He tore his ACL in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, but he should be back by the first round of playoffs.
The West will be even more competitive next season with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both headed to the Clippers, but there’s no reason why the Warriors can’t win 50 games with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green leading the way along with newcomer D’Angelo Russell.
It seems like the Warriors want to keep the door open for a possible Kevin Durant return. The only question is, will KD ever want to return to the Bay Area?