The Warriors have won five straight games without Kevin Durant to reach their fifth straight NBA Finals.
Controversial commentator Shannon Sharpe believes the squad hopes Durant's final game played this season has already happened, showing everyone they can win without the two-time Finals MVP.
"I think a part of them deep down, they don't want KD to come back," Sharpe said Tuesday morning on FS1's Undisputed. "They want to show that they're much more than a Kevin Durant team."
"Deep down the Warriors don't want KD to come back. They want to show that they're much more than a Kevin Durant team. I don't know if KD was playing any better than what Steph Curry played the last 5 1/2 games: 37, a triple-double, 13 rebounds last night." — @ShannonSharpe pic.twitter.com/fqN69jx7iY— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 21, 2019
Is Sharpe listening to the actual players on the team? Draymond Green reiterated after sweeping the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals how the Warriors badly the Warriors need Durant in the Finals. He's even called it "idiotic" to think Golden State is better without KD.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson referred to Durant's greatness and wanting to get him back for the Finals throughout the series.
"Kevin Durant was playing great before he got hurt," Sharpe said. "I don't know if he was playing any better than Steph played the last 5 1/2 games."
Both can be true. Durant was averaging 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game this postseason before straining his right calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. In the last five games, Curry has averaged 35.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists with KD sidelined.
That doesn't mean Curry hopes Durant stays on the shelf, and it certainly doesn't mean they can't co-exist on the biggest stage. The superstar duo has already proven they can in the previous two NBA Finals.
With all the speculation surrounding Durant's free agency and the Warriors' ability to win without him, there's been a narrative created that the Dubs don't want KD. The truth is, all they want is another ring, and having an all-time great on the court with you sure doesn't hurt.
Shock new player in Durant free agency stakes
Whether they like it or not, rumours about Durant’s destination this off-season will continue to swirl until he signs on the dotted line.
Though the New York Knicks have long been thought to be Durant’s preferred destination should he choose to bid farewell to the Warriors, NBA insider Mark Stein has reported there could be a shock new suitor on the Finals MVP’s rader.
Stein reported The Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as a ‘dangerous threat’ to sign Durant.
The Clippers, long the little brother to the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers, have emerged as the superior organisation in the free agency stakes, despite LeBron James’ presence on the Lakers.
What we learned tonight is that Kevin Durant could sign with the Knicks. Or the Clippers. Or the Nets. Or stay with the Warriors. So we really have no idea what he’s going to do. Which means we learned nothing.— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) May 22, 2019
A chaotic front office and questionable talent has dropped the Lakers’ stock, whereas the Clippers’ impressive first round showing against the Warriors impressed many in NBA circles.
“Within the last month, very smart and plugged-in people I have consulted say that the Los Angeles Clippers have emerged as an equally dangerous threat to the Knicks to sign Durant away from Golden State. And I believe it,” Stein said.
“Problem is, at various points during the season, I have heard trusted insiders state with conviction that Durant is already planning to join the Knicks ... and then that he is likely to consider the Nets as well ... and now that he is eyeing the Clippers just as intently as New York.
“It leads one to conclude that maybe the best forecast, at least for the moment, is that nobody but Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman know.”
Warriors remain confident
Despite the constantly swirling speculation around Durant and fellow free agent Klay Thompson, Golden State general manager Joe Lacob is bullish on the team’s chances of retaining both players.
Lacob sent a text message to Warriors beat writer for the Athletic, Tim Kawakami, reiterating the team’s focus on keeping the pair on the team.
Joe Lacob text today: "We love Klay and KD and intend to attempt to re-sign them. Period. I am confident about BOTH of them."— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 22, 2019
"We love Klay and KD and intend to attempt to re-sign them. Period. I am confident about BOTH of them,” Lacob wrote.