After deciding to leave the Warriors for the Nets in free agency last week, Kevin Durant was apparently in no mood to deliver a parting gift to his former team. He reportedly wouldn't agree to the sign-and-trade deal that sent D'Angelo Russell to Golden State unless the Warriors also gave up a first-round pick.
Durant didn't believe the Warriors were sacrificing enough in a straight up deal for Russell, so multiple sources told ESPN's Brian Windhorst that Durant insisted his new team also receive a draft choice.
To be fair to Durant, there was no incentive for him to agree to a sign-and-trade since the Nets had ample cap room to sign both him and Kyrie Irving. Any trade with the Warriors would only benefit Golden State and Russell, who was able to receive a max contract that may not have otherwise been available via his two biggest free-agent suitors, the Lakers and Timberwolves.
Durant, who took nearly $10 million less in his second contract with the Warriors two years ago to help them keep both Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, was under no obligation to do Golden State any more favors.
With no other avenue to receive any compensation for Durant, the Warriors were left with no choice but to surrender their top pick next season. And more.
The Nets and Durant were able to squeeze even more out of the deal when they offloaded the combined $3.6 million contracts of Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham to the Warriors. Dumping those contracts gave the Nets cap room to sign free-agent center DeAndre Jordan, a close friend of Durant's.
After turning around and sending Napier and Graham and $3.6 million to the Timberwolves for the rights to 33-year-old Israeli star Lio Eliyahu (who may never play for the Warriors) in order to clear more cap space, the Warriors should still be commended for managing to get a 23-year-old All-Star in Russell in the trade.
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In addition, while it may seem as though Durant got one over on the Warriors, they may not even lose the first-round pick. The Warriors were able to get some protections for next year's pick -- if it's anywhere from 1-20 then Golden State keeps its No. 1 pick and instead will send a second-round pick in 2025 to Brooklyn.
So, there's a scenario in which the Warriors make the playoffs next season and still keep their first-round pick, as long as they don't finish with one of the top 10 records in the regular season. Things could get fascinating in the final week or so next season should the Warriors be teetering around the league's 10th-best record.
Would Golden State look to take "load management" to another level in order to keep its first-round pick away from Durant and the Nets? Hmmm.
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