How Does Kevin Durant’s Shocking Decision Affect the Spurs?

May 26, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) controls the ball as Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) defends in the second quarter in game five of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
May 26, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) controls the ball as Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) defends in the second quarter in game five of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

Kevin Durant has uprooted the landscape with his shocking move to the Golden State Warriors, which will affect the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the NBA.

The ultimate domino finally fell in the free agency craziness that is Summer 2016.  Kevin Durant, the ultimate prize of the 2016 free agent class, has decided to take his talents to the Bay Area.

KD will join forces with Stephen Curry and Co., making one of the scariest starting lineups in the history of the NBA.

About five weeks ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder were up 3-1 on the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors and the whole country was caught up in Thunder fever.

Fresh off their win over the 67-win San Antonio Spurs in the conference semis, the Thunder were playing unbelievable basketball.

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They were playing through their stars, but their role players such as

Steven Adams


Dion Waiters

(and even

Andre Roberson

!) were playing fantastic in their supporting roles of Westbrook and Durant.

However, all of the sudden, one thing changed.  The Warriors just stopped missing, the exact thing they failed to do in the Finals.  In Games 5, 6, and 7, again and again the Dubs splashed down their famous long-range daggers.

The Warriors shot 38-for-82 (46 percent) from three in Games 6 and 7, compared to just 10-for-50 (20 percent) from OKC.

In Game 6, the Thunder were home and had the lead in the fourth quarter, but turnovers and rushed possessions from KD and Russell Westbrook enabled Klay Thompson and Steph to take historic threes which would not only put the nail in Thunder’s coffin for that series, but sealed the future fate of their biggest star.

The Thunder could do everything but shoot the long ball late in the Golden State series, and that was all the Warriors needed.  They ended the Thunder’s season in shocking fashion coming back from 3-1 to eventually let a 3-1 series lead slip away to a LeBron James-led Cavs team.

However it was the historic-shooting Warriors who went cold at the end of the Finals, leaving the window open for the Cavs to seize the moment … and did they ever.

Flash forward to free agency and the Warriors have done the unthinkable.  They lured the very player they rallied to beat to make it to the Finals.

After Harrison Barnes‘ collapse at the end of the finals, going 7-for-29 from the field in the last three games, moving him for Durant made even more sense.

Exactly one year after the Spurs’ agreed to terms with LaMarcus Aldridge, Golden State turned the basketball world on its head this July 4 with one of the biggest free agent acquisitions ever.

Now the Dubs can boast a line up featuring Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green!  This lineup is without a doubt one of the all-time best in NBA history, and will make the Warriors heavy title favorites for the foreseeable future.

However, taking on a max contract will take some maneuvering from the Warriors.

Durant’s contract will reportedly be for $54.3 million over two years, with a player option for the second year (which allow him to be a free agent again next year). Durant will earn approximately 27 million next year, which will leave the Warriors in a sticky cap situation.

For the last two seasons, the Dubs have been praised for their great depth and bench play, that’s all gone now. The Warriors had to move Andre Iguodala‘s or Andrew Bogut‘s contract to fit Durant, with Bogut reportedly heading to the Mavericks for a future second-round pick.

Bogut has had chronic injury problems and was absent for Game 7 in the 2016 Finals and the 2014 first round.

With Bogut out and the Warriors letting go of restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, this Warriors team will look very different next year.

Golden State’s cap space looks like this for the 2016/17 season:

Kevin Durant, $27 millionKlay Thompson, $16 millionDraymond Green, $15 millionSteph Curry,$12 millionAndre Iguodala, $11 millionShaun Livingston, $6 million

They have $87 million slated away for those six players.  The Warriors also have Jason Thompson and Kevon Looney on their books for a combined $8 million.  That puts the Warriors mark at $95 million, which is already over the cap.

That doesn’t account for many of their players  that might be leaving in free agency.

Leoandro Barbosa, Marreese Speights, Brandon Rush, Ian Clark, and James Michael McAdoo are all unrestricted free agents.

With the current market for role players like Mirza Teletovic and Tyler Johnson getting more than $10 million dollars per year, it looks like it would be difficult for the Dubs to retain any of these players unless they take severe pay cuts to stay with the team.

Besides the Room Exception at a mere $2.9 million (which they used on Zaza Pachulia), the Dubs will only be able to offer minimum contracts to fill out the roster.

Yet going well over the cap does not seem like much of a concern for the management as they were grossly over last year and will be far over again, even with the cap set to rise to $94 million.

Kevin Durant (35) scores against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Their cap situation gets even more difficult next year, when the cap rises to about $108 million. Durant will have an out in his contract and Curry will be an unrestricted free agent.

That could tie up $70 million between the two of them if they both sign max next year.

Along with $34 million combined for Green and Thompson, they would have about $105 million in just 4 players, leaving unrestricted free agents Iguodala and Livingston with very little cash leftover, let alone bringing in other players.

The Warriors are going to have to tightrope their own finances for the next few years but they knew that before they pursued Durant.

The supporting cast surrounding the Bay Area Splash Family is bound to take a huge it, but for a talent like Kevin Durant, it’s worth it.

The Warriors situation is a lot like the Heat’s situation in 2010, signing a couple players to very expensive contracts leaving very little money for the rest of the roster.

Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra did a fantastic job maximizing the production from what little leftover money they had, and it’s up to Bob Myers and Steve Kerr to do the same if the Warriors want to be truly special.

You cannot walk into a NBA season with six NBA players and nine D-Leaguers and expect to win a championship.  If they have any injuries or chemistry issues, they need a bench (and a fifth starter) to be there to support the stars.

Unfortunately for the Spurs and the rest of the NBA, the Warriors are a first class organization and they will probably overcome all these technicalities to rule over the NBA.

It would not be surprising if a few free agents took slight pay cuts to jump on the bandwagon, however they will go well over the cap to fill out there roster.

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Comparisons to the 2010 Heat will not go very far because the Warriors are already a legendary team.

Curry is a back-to-back MVP, they have been to back-to-back Finals, won a title already, have a 140-24 record over the last two years, and broke the all time regular season wins record with 73 wins.

Even with Spurs’ addition of Pau Gasol and the dynamic tandem of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus, the Spurs still might  not have enough to combat these insane Warriors.

The Spurs’ 67-win team last year was good enough to win the ‘chip in many years, and they may be just as good (or better) this year, but the Warriors pose a gigantic threat.

The biggest plus for the Spurs is that the Thunder are not nearly the threat they were in the past, making the Spurs the clear cut number two seed in the West.  Leonard and Aldridge need to take the challenge one game at a time, just like the Cavs did in the 2016.