Analysis: Warriors’ loss of Kevin Durant will hurt for years to come

, USA TODAY
Published 8:51 p.m. ET June 30, 2019

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SportsPulse: Kevin Durant is headed to Brooklyn and may have just created the new super team. As Jeff Zillgitt explains, despite Durant likely missing all of next season the Nets are in prime position for years.
USA TODAY

For the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant’s departure for the Brooklyn Nets is even more devastating than the site of Durant going down with a ruptured Achilles during the NBA Finals.

Chances are, Durant will recover from the injury.

Chances are, the Warriors will not recover from the loss of Durant — “recover’’ being measured by their five-year status as a juggernaut in the NBA Finals, winning three titles during their run as Western Conference favorites.

Signing Klay Thompson to a five-year, $189.6 million max deal is an important step forward in securing the Splash Brothers. Thompson and Steph Curry likely will remain together for at least another three years, with Curry entering the third year of a five-year, $201 million deal. But on Sunday that felt like a consolation prize after Durant agreed to a max deal with the Nets.

Yes, Curry and Thompson remain arguably the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. On top of that, Draymond Green, the Warriors’ All-Star forward, has gone from good to great. And the Warriors’ bench is deep and talented. 

The Warriors also could lose DeMarcus Cousins, who at times looked formidable during the NBA Finals, to free agency. And Thompson, who is recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the NBA Finals, is expected to be sidelined at least until December. But those are minor issues compared to Durant’s departure.

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During the NBA Finals, the Toronto Raptors exposed how Durant’s absence weakens the Warriors. And with the Los Angeles Lakers having added Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James and still in the hunt for Kawhi Leonard, the Warriors will need to work some magic to remain title-worthy.

The 2016 free agency period was perhaps the most glorious for the Warriors. They landed Durant. And so the 2019 free agency period will be remembered as one of the most painful.

They are headed for a new arena in San Francisco without their two-time NBA Finals MVP. The only good news: The Warriors will avoid paying a massive luxury tax.

Follow Josh Peter on Twitter @joshlpeter11

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