2019 NBA free agency: Ranking Kevin Durant’s best potential landing spots

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images /
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Kevin Durant
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images /

1. Golden State Warriors

Is heading to New York and silencing all the criticism once and for all worth $57 million? That’s the question Kevin Durant will have to answer, and it’s the reason the Golden State Warriors still have a very good chance of simply pressing “pause” on the dynasty rather than lose a crucial piece they missed dearly in the Finals.

If Durant never gets hurt in the playoffs, it’s likely the Dubs cruise to their third straight title and KD decides to leave with everyone on good terms. A three-peat is rare, and four championships in five years would signal it’s time for change — for the good of Durant, for the good of the league and honestly, maybe even for the good of the Warriors, to create a new challenge.

However, that’s not what happened. Durant suffered a debilitating injury in Game 5 of the Finals after rushing back from a calf strain, and the Dubs — and all the pressure that came with anticipating his return in a series they trailed 3-1 — bear at least some of the blame, if not the majority of it.

They owe it to Durant to give him the full five-year, $221 million max, not only because it gives them a chance to get this dynasty back on track after a down year, but also because one of the greatest players of all time, who hurt himself rushing back to help his team win a championship, deserves that kind of long-term security after such a devastating injury.

It’s a massive risk. Most players simply aren’t the same after a torn Achilles, and Durant will be earning $50 million in his age-35 season. The luxury tax implications are dizzying, and that’s before even factoring in the five-year, $190 million max Klay Thompson deserves, or Draymond Green‘s next contract.

And yet, this is the time to pay up. The Warriors have become one of the NBA’s all-time great dynasties, and if there were every a time to swallow a hefty tax bill, it’s now. All these injuries showed the Dubs how fleeting it all is, and with as much talk about how they ruined the league, they “only” won three of their five Finals appearances. This series showed they need Durant to remain title favorites, especially now that the rest of the league smells blood in the water.

The Dubs can offer the full five-year max, which is worth $57 million more than any other team can put forth. It also has an extra year attached, and a five-year max is awfully enticing after that injury revealed just how quickly an NBA career can be altered forever. Golden State can even offer another “1+1” max if that’s what he prefers.

Had the Dubs completed the three-peat, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Kevin Durant would likely be out the door, ending his Warriors saga on the perfect note and embracing a new challenge in New York.

Now, his injury and a whole year of rehabilitation put a greater emphasis on security; preserving a dynasty; healing with a training staff he’s familiar with; getting paid as much as possible; and completing unfinished business after injuries denied this team another ring. He wouldn’t even hear the same cries of “snake!” with everyone just excited to see him back on the court and invested in seeing how an aging Warriors team would regroup against the new kings of the NBA.

Next. Predicting where the top 2019 NBA free agents will land. dark

Because of this, the Warriors re-signing Kevin Durant remains the most logical outcome — even with the Nets gaining steam with each passing day.