After having watched All-Stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson suffer serious injuries in back-to-back games, Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob called the end of the 2019 NBA Finals a “nightmare.”
“The last week has just been like a nightmare,” Lacob said after Thursday’s season-ending Game 6 that saw the Toronto Raptors crowned NBA champions, according to the New York Times‘ Marc Stein.
Durant holds a $31.5 million player option for the 2019-20 season. When asked how hopeful the team is of re-signing the two-time Finals MVP, Lacob told Stein, “We’ll find out.”
Durant entered the 2019 Finals having been sidelined by a calf strain suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 8. With his team facing a 3-1 deficit to the Toronto Raptors, he opted to play in Game 5 on Monday.
Unfortunately for him, the 30-year-old had to leave early in the second quarter after going down with a non-contact injury. He was diagnosed with a ruptured Achilles and underwent surgery on Wednesday.
As a result, Durant’s potential free agency this summer has taken a turn. It’s unlikely that the 10-time All-Star will be able to play in 2019-20, as the timetable for a torn Achilles is typically a year.
Durant has long been expected to opt out of his player option and become a free agent this offseason.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers made it clear last year that Durant could have “whatever he wants” in terms of a contract, and the team has let it be known throughout the season that it wants to re-sign the four-time scoring champ. Losing in the Finals with Durant sidelined only emphasizes his value to the team.
Thompson, meanwhile, will be an unrestricted free agent after playing out his contract. When asked before Game 6 what the Warriors’ plans are for Thompson, Lacob made it clear that he does not want to see the guard suit up for another team.
“I’m not allowed to say what we’re going to do,” Lacob said on Thursday, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Ballard. “I will just say, I love Klay Thompson. We love Klay Thompson. We find it very difficult to see Klay Thompson in any other uniform.”
And no, the star’s injury-which is reportedly expected to keep him sidelined for nine to 10 months-does not figure to impact his future with the team.
“I don’t know yet what we’re going to do [with Klay],” Lacob told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. “I’ve said for a long time I want Klay to be a Warrior for life, and so this doesn’t change anything as far as I’m concerned.”
Thompson has made no secret about his desire to remain with Golden State. The 2011 first-round pick told the Mercury News‘ Mark Medina in September that he “would like to be a Warrior for life.”
Prior to Thompson tearing his ACL on Thursday in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, there had been questions if the Warriors would offer the five-time All-Star a max deal. Thompson would have been eligible for a five-year, $221 million supermax deal had he been voted All-NBA this season. After being snubbed, though, the most he can sign for is five years and $190 million.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported in October that Thompson “has no plans to take a discount.”
If it comes down to money for Durant and Thompson, Lacob told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami in February that the Warriors “have the capital to pay our players what they deserve. And we will.”
When asked after Thursday’s game, though, if the team would be offering max contracts to both Durant and Thompson this summer, Lacob was non-committal.
“We’ll have to assess and then talk,” Lacob told Kawakami. “Obviously, we still have a very good team. And a great organization. So we’ll take it one step at a time. We’ve got the draft coming up next week and free agency.”