Now that the Kevin Durant free-agency dust has settled, let’s be real: did Golden State actually think it could land this offseason’s most coveted player?
“Well, I think we had hope,” Warriors President and COO Rick Welts said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “We, like every other team, probably didn’t think it was going to happen, and I can assure you we had no indication it was going to happen until the phone rang at 7:30 in the morning in Bob Myers’ cabin on Lake Tahoe and Kevin called to give us his decision. I think there was a lot of screaming and yelling going on in the Myers’ cabin at that point in time.”
With Durant joining Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, the pressure to win an NBA title will be extraordinary. Then again, that’s 11 months away.
“The last time I checked, our record is 0-0,” Welts said. “I do think the advantage we have going into the season is we’ve gone through two consecutive seasons by making it to the Finals, winning once and losing once. We know what both feel like, so the journey is going to be a familiar one for these guys. They know what the pressure is all about. Last year, 73 wins, most wins in the history of the league. Actually, adding our playoff wins, it was the most wins for any NBA team over the course of a season ever. So they feel the pressure every night. They’ve had a target on their back all last season. I can’t imagine guys being better prepared to go into what is going to be a year of incredibly high expectations.”
While some analysts are comparing the Warriors to the 2010 Miami Heat, who started 9-8, Welts sees one key difference: The Heat signed several high-profile free agents that year who needed time to adjust to one another. The Warriors, meanwhile, simply added Durant to their trio of homegrown All-Stars.
“These are guys who have had a lot of experience playing together already,” Welts said. “But to make room under the cap for Kevin, we had to really disassemble the team. We’re going to have a lot of fresh faces. It is a great puzzle that Steve Kerr and his staff are going to have to figure out how to take advantage of the amazing talent on the roster, but also a lot of guys are going to be meeting each other for the first time.”
Nevertheless, it will be championship-or-bust for Golden State. Win or lose, it’ll be interesting to see what Durant does next offseason.
“There’s no commitment from Kevin,” Welts said. “He signed a one-year contract with a player option. So I think the hope and expectation is there’s a business reason for doing that more than there is a basketball reason for doing that. We’ve got to be a place that is as good as he thought it was when he selected the Warriors over the other options that he had. I think we’re going through a really interesting time in our league. We’re all trying to figure out what the new world is going to look like.”
Welts also addressed Green’s East Lansing arrest last weekend. Green, 26, was arrested after allegedly punching Michigan State football player Jermaine Edmondson.
Green has made some questionable decisions on the court, and now it seems it’s spilling over into his personal life. This guy needs to mature a little bit, no?
“Listen, he gets it,” Welts said. “If you spend any time around this young man, he’s a teddy bear. But he’s also the heart of our team. He’s also a guy who brings the passion and brings the voice in the locker room. It’s up to Draymond to create the right balance and he understands it. He gets it. I can’t comment on that particular issue. It’s ongoing. But we have every confidence that this guy is going to remain an All-Star for a long time to come and really is the centerpiece of what we’re trying to accomplish for the Warriors.”