Despite the Golden State Warriors’ attempts to try and downplay the heated exchange that went down between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green a few nights ago, it is clear that the damage has been done. There were things that were said — particularly from the part of Green — that crossed the line and put a permanent dent not only Green’s friendship with Durant, but also, on Durant’s relationship with the Warriors organization.
It is no secret that Durant was already considering a move away from the Warriors in the summer, and perhaps this incident may have pushed him over the edge. The fact of the matter is, the prospect of losing Durant during the offseason is a scenario that the Dubs have to prepare for now more than ever.
We’re barely a month into the season, and there’s still going to be a lot of basketball from now until July. Nonetheless, we’ve ranked five trade scenarios for the Warriors that they can look into under the assumption that Durant walks away next summer.
As far as trading pieces go, the Warriors don’t really have much to offer. Stephen Curry is untouchable, and both Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are on expiring deals. DeMarcus Cousins is, well, DeMarcus Cousins.
That being said, the Dubs will need to do a lot of maneuvering if they wish to pull off any of the trade scenarios proposed below.
5. Draymond Green, Damian Jones for Nikola Vucevic, Jonathan Simmons (Orlando Magic)
Vucevic is on the trading block and has been a beast so far this season. He may be the man the Warriors have been looking for to fill the void in the middle. Cousins is not expected to be back anytime soon, and he will likely sign with a different team next summer, so Vucevic may be their long-term solution at the five.
However, for this deal to push through, the Warriors must somehow convince the Magic to take on Green’s expiring deal in exchange for such a huge asset. However, given how the Magic seem intent on dealing away Vucevic, they might just like their chances on re-signing Green after this season.
4. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Damian Jones for Otto Porter Jr. (Washington Wizards)
With Durant gone, the Warriors will need to find a new starting small forward. Porter is currently one of the most underrated swingmen in the game today, and while he is no Durant, he should slide in nicely playing alongside Curry.
For their part, the Wizards are currently struggling right now, and may actually be looking to shake things up. Porter has not exactly been great thus far, so perhaps Washington might be willing to pull the trigger on a deal. In exchange, they will be acquiring the veteran presence and championship experience of Iguodala and Livingston, and a promising big in Jones.
3. Draymond Green for Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
The Bucks are one of the most promising, young teams right now and they have the potential to be one of the most dominant sides in the league. However, they may be looking to add a little spunk to their team — a tried-and-tested champion that can help bring the team to the next level. Perhaps the Bucks might be tempted to bring in a Draymond Green to their side.
However, the Warriors talisman won’t come cheap, and they will need to give up Middleton in exchange. If the Dubs were able to somehow pull this off, Middleton’s scoring ability and deep range would surely help fill the Durant-sized hole they would be been left with.
2. Klay Thompson for Jimmy Butler (Philadelphia 76ers)
Much like Green, the Warriors may want to try and move Thompson before his contract expires next summer. The Sixers, who are currently looking to win now, might show some interest.
Assuming that the Jimmy Butler experiment doesn’t pan out, the Sixers will surely want to look into other alternatives. Butler is also on an expiring deal so the Warriors will need to convince him to stay on, but so will the Sixers with Thompson.
Butler is one of the best two-way-players in the NBA today, and the enigmatic swingman would instantly command the three spot for the Dubs. However, the Warriors will definitely need to be wary of Butler’s alleged ability to mess with a team’s chemistry.
1. Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala for Kawhi Leonard (Toronto Raptors)
As far as one-to-one replacements go, Kawhi Leonard is arguably the best Durant substitute the Warriors can find. LeBron James isn’t going anywhere, so the Warriors will need to settle for the next best thing.
Leonard has been excellent with his new team to open the new campaign, but there are still some doubts on whether or not he will re-sign with the Raptors next summer. Perhaps Toronto might want to pass that problem on to the Warriors. In the process, they will acquire the services of one of the best shooters of all-time in Thompson.
To partways with their cornerstone superstar, the Raptors may want a little bit more in return. Throwing Iguodala in the mix might be the extra motivation the Raptors need to pull the trigger on this potential blockbuster deal.
With so much going on right now, the Warriors appear to be in a bit of a pickle. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the team, and it is very much possible that we end up seeing a completely revamped Dubs side next season.
Nevertheless, Golden State still has one of the best players in the league today in Curry and it is only a matter of building around him. They’ve done it before, so they should be able to accomplish the task again if the circumstances require.