The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

Former champs, injured Warriors brace for unclear summer

- By Janie McCauley

OAKLAND, CALIF. >> Steve Kerr still considers Golden State an ideal fit for Kevin Durant.

Whether Durant sees it that way going into free agency next month, Kerr isn’t about to guess. Especially now that the two-time NBA Finals MVP is headed for what could be a yearlong recovery from surgery for a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

“Well, that injury kind of throws everything for a loop, so I have no idea what Kevin’s going to do,” Kerr said June 14. “I know that we all want him back, and we think this is a great situation for him and vice versa. So, hopefully we get him back and keep this thing going with the understand­ing that he’s a free agent and we want what’s best for him, and he’s free to make any choice he wants. Hopefully he’s back, and we will all give him any advice, any counsel that he needs. And ultimately he’s going to make his own decision. He’s earned that.”

A day after losing Game 6 of the Finals to the champion Raptors, Kerr and general manager Bob Myers braced for an uncertain summer while still trying to cope with the heartbreak of seeing Durant go down in Game 5.

Then Klay Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee during the third quarter of the, 114-110, loss June 13 in the final game at Oracle Arena.

Durant was injured in Game 5 June 11 in Toronto, then underwent surgery June 12 in New York.

“This year more than any other tested the fabric of our team,” Myers said. “It’s hard to not value a championsh­ip as much as I value short of winning a championsh­ip, and in some ways more than winning a championsh­ip, this year I might have been the proudest of our resolve. I don’t know if that’s evident. I hear that from people in the Bay Area, the support we’ve gotten, the things people say about kind of conducting ourselves as champions. That stuff matters. Winning matters, too, obviously. It all matters. Try to continue to hang onto that culture.”

In February, Durant became frustrated over all the fuss and speculatio­n about where he might play next season, and said “I’m trying to play basketball.” He signed a two-year contract last summer that includes a player option for the 2019-20, so Durant can become a free agent to pursue a maximum five-year deal. The Warriors are expected to try to sign both Durant and Thompson to those max contracts.

Asked how optimistic he is about bringing back Durant, an emotionall­y exhausted Myers said, simply, “I don’t know” while noting of free agency “it’s never what you think.”

“He’s a guy who’s been, like I said, what more can we ask for from him?” Myers said. “He’s been everything to us, the guy has been everything that we could have ever dreamed. He’s been an awesome member of this organizati­on. There’s so much he does in the community that probably doesn’t get as many headlines, things he’s done in D.C., his foundation, how he kind of lives his life. We’re lucky to have been around him. Hopefully we’ll keep doing that.”

All season, the Warriors were determined to cherish this ride together knowing the roster could look far different once training camp rolls around in September — along with the venue as Golden State moves across the bay to the new Chase Center in San Francisco.

 ?? JANIE MCCAULEY — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Warriors coach Steve Kerr talks with reporters at the Warriors’ practice facility June 14 in Oakland, Calif.
JANIE MCCAULEY — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Warriors coach Steve Kerr talks with reporters at the Warriors’ practice facility June 14 in Oakland, Calif.

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