2017 NBA Finals
2017 NBA Finals

Can Golden State Warriors be stopped? Kevin Durant's coming deal key to keeping dynasty intact

Warriors willing to do 'whatever it takes' to keep Stephen Curry in town

Fran Blinebury

Fran Blinebury NBA.com


Jun 14, 2017 7:27 PM ET


What happens this offseason for Kevin Durant and the Warriors?

Achilles had his heel.

Samson had Delilah wielding a pair of scissors.

The No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson, had a flight of stairs in a rented house a few days before the start of the Masters.

Stuff happens.  

Yet now that they’ve won two times in the past three seasons and the Las Vegas oddsmakers have already made them overwhelming favorites for the 2018 NBA championship, what is to stop the Warriors?

Dynasties in sports are revered because, while they may look as unstoppable as a runaway locomotive, so many things can run them off the rails.

Age. Injuries. Egos.

You can start right away by saying if the Lower 29 -- that’s the rest of the league -- wants to wait for the Warriors to “age-out,” they could still be standing around shuffling their feet for quite a few years.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will only be 29 at the start of next season, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green just 27.

Which means there is a lot more dynamic basketball left where that came from.

Kevin Durant says he 'feels there's no question' he'll return to the Warriors.

So does it really make sense for everybody else to chase the fantasy of building their own super team? Or might it be just as realistic to install a trapdoor in the middle of every other NBA arena to try to swallow up the Warriors one by one when they run a fast break?

What more can LeBron James do to close the gap, average a double-triple-double?

Houston general manager Daryl Morey promises his Rockets have something up their sleeve. Let’s hope it’s a better trick than having James Harden disappear in Game 6 against the Spurs.

Ex-coach and ESPN sounding board Jeff Van Gundy thinks there’s no reason the Warriors couldn’t run their string to five, six, eight, even 10 Finals trips in a row.

“It would take a massive upset, if they’re not there each and every year,” he said.

So before the last of spilled champagne dries up, let’s look at what lies ahead for the Warriors this summer:

Who comes back?

Everybody that matters.

The players the Warriors have under contract are Green, Thompson, Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney and Damian Jones.

Durant has a player option he will not exercise and that’s the key making all of the other puzzle pieces fit.  He will become a free agent and allow for maneuvering by the front office.

Curry, who has been the most underpaid player in the league for the past several seasons is free agent priority No. 1 and team owner Joe Lacob is on the record saying:  “We’re going to do whatever it takes to keep Steph here and happy.  And I know he wants to be here, and we want him here. So, I do not anticipate any issues with him staying.”

That means Curry will likely get the $205 million super-max deal for which he is eligible under the new collective bargaining agreement.

How will Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant handle their contracts this summer?

Next up are the two key reserves: Andre Iguodala, 33, and Shaun Livingston, 31, who are priorities to keep Golden State potent and productive at both ends of the floor.

Then 2017 Finals MVP Durant signs a deal that maintains the ear-to-ear grin he’s been wearing since Monday night.

How do they all fit under the salary cap?

It’s all about Durant. If he is willing to take a slight cut -- say $4 million less than the $35.4 million he’s eligible to be paid next season, the Warriors will then have the space to keep their rights to Iguodala and Livingston. It has been widely reported throughout the Bay Area that Durant is on board with that plan. After those three agree to terms, then the Warriors will make the deal with Curry official. Durant would likely sign a two-year contract with another clause to opt out in the summer of 2018, when he would then be eligible for his own maximum contract deal.

What happens to the supporting cast?

Do you really think there is a shortage of volunteers -- veteran and young players with something to prove -- to saddle up for the ride to fill out the roster? David West has already been playing on minimum deals since he left Indiana two years ago, and Zaza Pachulia couldn’t ask for a more comfortable cocoon to draw a paycheck. The 26-year-old Ian Clark might want to cash on his ring and it’s possible JaVale McGee, after a season of rehabilitating his game and reputation, could be tempted to jump ship for a bigger multiyear contract.

Are the Warriors that much better than everyone else?

In a word, yes.

They’re not just talented in their core, but solid throughout the rotation. Their offensive wizardry draws all of the headlines and highlight and attention with so many playmakers. But their attention to defensive details and ferocity is what enables them to play shutdown ball whenever it’s needed.

It’s not that every other team in the league is horrible. Golden State just makes them look that way.

Stephen Curry says he's been working 'for a very long time' to reach this summer's payday.

How does it end?

Often the unraveling comes about due to egos and an individual star’s desire to outshine the rest.

But consider the comment from Thompson, who could be a top gun for any other franchise: “I don’t feel like I sacrificed at all. I’d rather be part of something that could leave a legacy. There is more to basketball than getting yours or being the guy. I hope I do this for a long time for the Warriors.”

Maybe it’s time to start building that trapdoor.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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