Kevin Durant

Why a KD-Warriors reunion isn't far-fetched after Suns' playoff exit

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It was almost five years ago that Kevin Durant left the Warriors, and key members of the organization have on numerous occasions since deliberated on the possibility of a return.

“Hell yeah,” Stephen Curry said two years ago.

“My thing was, you can't never not think about that,” Draymond Green said a couple months later.

Golden State CEO Joe Lacob has on several occasions made it clear that he did not understand why Durant chose to leave via sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets in July 2019.

The idea of KD returning to the Warriors remains appealing in 2024. He’s still playing at All-Star level, and those in the Golden State front office are entering an offseason during which they will explore all options to open next season with an NBA championship-caliber roster.

The possibility of reacquiring Durant might never be higher than now, as the 35-year-old forward is displeased with his role with the Phoenix Suns, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported, citing sources.

KD’s season ended Sunday with the most humiliating NBA playoff outcome, the Minnesota Timberwolves sweeping the Suns into the offseason.

This represents for Durant a continuation of competitive futility that runs counter to his three seasons with the Warriors. The Suns, after all, were assembled at great expense by an aggressive new controlling owner and governor, Mat Ishbia, to win now.

The same could be said of Durant’s previous team, the Nets, also assembled at great cost and installed as the preseason favorite for the 2021-22 title. They finished with a 44-38 record and were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics, who reached The Finals – and were defeated by the Warriors.

Which is not to suggest that Durant’s last five years have been in vain. He made a spectacular recovery from the ruptured right Achilles’ tendon he sustained in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. KD has regained his All-Star form.

Happiness, however, continues to be elusive. And continuity nonexistent.

After three unsatisfying seasons in Brooklyn, which included a failed power couple experiment with Kyrie Irving, Durant wanted out. Phoenix was on his short list of desirable destinations. He was accommodated.

Yet only minutes after the Suns were ousted by the Timberwolves, a report by Charania cited sources claiming KD was uncomfortable with his role in Phoenix. There is no short list of attractive destinations. Yet.

Despite playing for two different franchises with a combined record of 137-75 (85-44 in Brooklyn, 52-31 in Phoenix) in games in which he appeared – and never moving beyond the conference semifinals – Durant has insisted he has not second-guessed his departure from the Warriors.

Rather, KD repeatedly has insisted he does not do regret, at least not regarding basketball – since entering the NBA in 2007. That his journey through his distinguished career has been as it’s supposed to be, if not always precisely as he would have liked.

The Warriors would like to think he occasionally feels a twinge of nostalgia for the good times they shared, if not occasional wistfulness over his decision to part.

Durant’s collaboration with James Harden and Irving in Brooklyn collapsed, with their chosen coach, Steve Nash, getting fired. Durant’s collaboration with Devin Booker and Bradley Beal in Phoenix has too often been illustrative proof that a talented trio does not guarantee competitive prosperity.

You might recall that when Durant chose Golden State in 2016, the entire planet immediately predicted ultimate competitive prosperity under coach Steve Kerr. As in outright domination.

After a couple months during which Curry and Durant learned how to play off each other, Durant’s game fit wonderfully with the Warriors. KD and Curry are basketball royalty with a blue-collar mentality. They not only figured it out; they flourished.

Trading for Durant now would require not only all parties signing off – that’s the thorniest part – but also substantial roster shuffling, beginning with the departures of Jonathan Kuminga and Andrew Wiggins. Before dismissing this as sheer folly, recall that few outside Warriors’ circle last summer imagined first-year general manager Mike Dunleavy and Lacob going after Chris Paul.

Any moves the Warriors make this summer will be out of extreme urgency to maximize the Curry window. In short, adding a plug-and-play star.

Durant and Curry will reunite in July as members of Team USA. Kerr is the head coach. Assuming no movement in the interim, they will have almost six weeks to engage in conversation and reminiscence.

Lacob, already committed to retiring Durant’s number, might be willing to personally lay the red carpet for KD’s return.

A KD-Warriors reunion is not as far-fetched as it might seem. It’s more conceivable than consummating a deal with LeBron James, something the Warriors pondered in February.

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