What are the odds the Warriors are back in the NBA Finals next season?
Pretty damn high, if you ask me, since there’s no reason to believe the smartest, savviest franchise in the NBA won’t make the right moves this off-season to keep the good times rolling.
Before the 2019 NBA Finals kick off in Toronto Thursday night, one of the most popular narratives surrounding the Warriors will be whether we’re witnessing the end of their dynasty. And it’s legit, of course, since we all know the Warriors could experience a seismic shift in fortunes when two of their top four players become unrestricted free agents.
But as long as the Warriors retain the services of their homegrown sharp-shooting star and No. 1 priority Klay Thompson—and there have been zero reports or indications that Thompson and the Warriors won’t come to a lengthy and lucrative agreement—what makes you think Golden State still won’t be one of the best teams in the Western Conference next season? Even if they lose the game’s best player in Kevin Durant. Because keeping the core of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Thompson intact, while allocating dollars to beef up the supporting cast, easily makes Golden State NBA Finals material, if not the favorites to win it all again.
Yeah, the Warriors are undoubtedly better with Durant than not. Anyone making that argument is a clown. The Warriors would be fools not to try to retain him for another year or two. But with Thompson back, they’ll be just fine without KD—who reportedly has his sights set on other squads—and we’re not coming to a knee-jerk conclusion after watching the Warriors dispatch the Rockets and Blazers while Durant was sidelined with his calf strain. Real talk, Durant has always been a luxury item for Golden State. They know it. Basketball fans know it. So spreading the money that could go to Durant and instead dispersing it to a dynamic veteran or two while upgrading a bench that isn’t what it used to be is certainly the fiscally responsible thing to do. It also might be savvier than blindly re-signing KD.
These Warriors are built to last longer than the Bulls, and that’s why the 2019 NBA Finals will not be the dynasty’s last dance.
With at least two all-time greats ripping nets from long distance in Klay and Steph, and a motivated Green looking to cash in big time as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020, tell me how Golden State isn’t still going to be a beast. We didn’t even mention the widely respected front office, support staff, and coach that set the Warriors apart from everyone else. Culturally speaking, they are unlike any franchise in the NBA right now. Everyone wants to play for them. Maybe they can even entice DeMarcus Cousins to comeback on another team-friendly contract, since Cousins raved to us about how “first class” the Warriors are. The Warriors loved how he fit into the locker room, and we didn’t really get a great taste of the Boogie experiment as he worked his way back from the Achilles injury midway through the regular season and then went down with a quad injury in the first round of the playoffs.
I’d easily contend that the hypothetical version of the 2019-20 Warriors outlined above would be just as formidable as any squad in the league and certainly in the Western Conference—unless maybe, just maybe, KD formed a new super squad with the Clippers. Of course, that’s a big if, and accurately predicting what Durant is going to do is an exercise in futility. Durant could end up in Los Angeles, he could end up in New York, or he could even return to Golden State, since the Warriors have actually planned for years to be able to fit him into their budget—even with Thompson’s significant raise on the immediate horizon. The opening of their new arena in San Francisco is projected to bring in tons of extra cash. They should be able to cover just about any cost they deem reasonable.
Whatever ultimately happens, I like the chances of 2019-20 Warriors to be more than good enough for a sixth straight Finals trip with Thompson back in the fold. Rudy Tomjanovich’s famous quote about never underestimating the heart of a champion would be appropriate to drop here, but the synergy of the absurd talent the Warriors have cultivated supersedes that, in my opinion.
Once upon a time, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls had their last dance during the 1998 NBA Finals. Everyone knew that squad was breaking up after the season, its star players and the coaching staff going their separate ways. These Warriors are built to last longer than those Bulls, and that’s why the 2019 NBA Finals will not be the dynasty’s last dance.