Kevin Durant free agency rumors: Warriors sense superstar will leave franchise as a free agent in offseason
The Warriors reportedly expect this to be the last run with Durant on the team
While the Warriors are resting and awaiting their Finals opponent -- between the Raptors and Bucks -- Kevin Durant is still dealing with a calf injury he suffered during Game 5 of the semifinals against the Houston Rockets. The Warriors have yet to shed light on Durant's status for the Finals, although owner Joe Lacob remains confident he'll be back in action by then.
On top of the Warriors being concerned about defending their crown without their star player, they also have to worry about the strong possibility he's playing his final season with the franchise. With Durant due to become a free agent this summer, there has been intense speculation that he'll leave for a new challenge.
According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, there is a growing sense within the organization that Durant will indeed leave. Shelburne stated the following during an appearance on ESPN's "The Jump" on Wednesday.
"I think you feel that within the Warriors organization," Shelburne said. "That's why this whole run feels like they're all just trying to savor it, right? They're trying to savor what this is and just how special it is. But I don't know. Kevin Durant is an emotional guy -- and I say that with respect ... he's passionate."
Making matters even more complicated is that while Golden State is an unbeatable beast with Durant, they're also an unbeatable squad without him. Since losing Durant in Game 5, Golden State has gone 6-0 against the two best teams in the Western Conference not named the Warriors. It has also done this without not only Durant, but also minus sidelined star center DeMarcus Cousins.
Assuming the Warriors are able to win this year, that would mark Durant's third championship in all three of his seasons with the franchise. Whether or not he returns to the lineup during the NBA Finals remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain -- considering Golden State has looked just fine without Durant, the thought of a new challenge has to be brewing in the former MVP's head.
Continuing to win titles with a franchise that had already won a championship before his arrival won't better his legacy. But winning a title for franchises that haven't had any championship success in recent years would certainly move Durant up on the all-time rankings list.
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