This offseason is supposed to be Kevin Durant or bust for the Golden State Warriors. Either they poach him from the Oklahoma City Thunder, or they run it back with their current core by re-signing restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, while retaining the expiring contracts of Andrew Bogut, Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala.
Not so fast, though.
The Warriors’ Plan B to Kevin Durant does include retaining Barnes, but it also involves chasing another high(ish)-end big man, such as Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Timofey Mozgov or David West, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Marc J. Spears:
ources said Tuesday that the Warriors, however, rate keeping Barnes as a top priority in the event they are unable to lure Durant away from the Thunder.
ESPN reported last week that Golden State is “all-in” on the pursuit of Durant, but sources said this week that the 2015 champions plan to retain Barnes and try to sign a proven big man — sources say Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, David West and Timofey Mozgov are all potential targets — if Durant stays with Oklahoma City or chooses to sign with another team.
The Warriors would also like to retain free-agent center Festus Ezeli, but how they fare in the Durant chase will play a big role in determining his fate.
This is kind of weird.
Re-signing Barnes if you cannot get Durant makes sense. You are not going to sell off key assets for lesser pieces, and Barnes can always be traded later. He’s also only 24 years old and working off a season in which he wasn’t entirely healthy. He could improve for 2016-17 and beyond.
Chasing another big is where things get murky. The Warriors would still need to get rid of at least Andrew Bogut to create any semblance of cap space. They could hope to sell Gasol or West on veteran’s minimums if they’re more concerned with rings than money, but they would absolutely need to shell out more for Mozgov or Noah. And there’s no guarantee any of these four names would be an upgrade over Bogut—even if they’re partnered with Festus Ezeli.
Nevertheless, this is ample cause to keep your eyes on the Warriors over the offseason. They, apparently, will be looking to make moves irrespective of whether they successfully whisk Durant off his feet.