The prevailing storyline for the Golden State Warriors—and perhaps for the NBA as a whole—throughout the 2018-19 season has been the future of Kevin Durant, and whether he'll leave the team in free agency this summer.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne appeared on The Jump on Wednesday and said she believes the Warriors have been bracing themselves for his departure:
"I've thought he's going to leave Golden State as well. I think there's a sense there that he's going to leave Golden State too. I think you feel that within the Warriors organization. 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."
That Durant's potential—perhaps even expected—departure weighs on the collective mind of the Warriors organization is nothing new. When Draymond Green and Durant had a shouting match during a game in November, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, it wasn't a coincidence that Green reportedly told him, "We don't need you. We won without you. Leave."
Durant has left his future a mystery, and while that's obviously his prerogative, his lack of a stated commitment to Golden State beyond this season naturally became a huge story. The Warriors weren't immune to the weight of that story, and while Green was ultimately suspended one game without pay for his outburst—he also reportedly called Durant a "bitch" several times during the argument—it also cleared the air for the team, as The Jump panel discussed on Wednesday.
"He said what everyone was thinking," Shelburne said of Green.
KD's future remains up in the air. Even amidst another Warriors postseason run, it pushes to the forefront, perhaps because he's out injured and the Warriors have promptly gone 5-0 in his absence. The balance of power in the NBA will either be dramatically altered this summer, or the status quo will remain.
More than any other player, Durant holds that balance in his hands. Fans feel it. The rest of the NBA feels it. And there's little question the Warriors continue to feel it, too.