These last five years have been an incredible, wild ride for the Golden State Warriors. The front office put together a team nearly unbeatable over a seven-game series when healthy and brought in a coach that is nothing short of incredible in managing egos and putting guys in the best position to succeed.
Looking ahead to the 2019 postseason, the Warriors are still the odds-on favorite to win their third consecutive title and a fourth in five years. In July, though, things become a bit shaky.
Kevin Durant becomes a free agent for the third consecutive year, and this time around, it's not readily clear what he intends on doing. Klay Thompson will be an unrestricted free agent and Draymond Green is eligible for an extension. Even DeMarcus Cousins is on a one-year, team-friendly deal that will probably land him with another team.
The Warriors are going to have difficult decisions to make this summer and beyond, and the rest of the NBA is gearing up for the deconstruction of a roster that no franchise has been able to figure out. Instead of building teams to take down the Warriors, the rest of the NBA might be waiting for this era to come to its natural end, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
Many believe the Golden State Warriors are going to win the title again and will still break up in some way next season. This is essentially a referendum on Durant's upcoming free agency, not so much Thompson's, though some executives also wonder what will happen with Green. He is eligible for an extension next summer and has made it clear he expects to be taken care of after playing, from his perspective, on the discounted deal he signed before the 2016 cap spike. If he has a great season and makes the All-NBA team or wins Defensive Player of the Year again, he'd qualify for a super-max extension, which would really put the Warriors in a tough spot. If Durant leaves, there'd be significant pressure on the Warriors to retain Green.
The summer of 2019 isn't going to completely break the Warriors. Steph Curry is going to be back for sure, and the team probably has a good chance at retaining Thompson, but it's going to be difficult to keep the whole core intact without guys taking steep discounts. It isn't out of the realm of possibility for Green to make another All-NBA team or win another DPOY award (neither are likely, but neither would be a surprise, either) and it's fair for players to want to maximize their earning potential while they still can.
The run has been remarkable, but the rest of the NBA is gearing up for the end of a dynasty, and only the Warriors can decide exactly what that might look like.
Maybe Jon Gruden knows what he's doing after all
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