Revisiting Durant’s Departure: How the Warriors made the best of a bad situation

You never like to lose one of the best players in the world, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, and possibly the best scorer in the history of the league. But, by the end of the 2018-19 season, it seemed inevitable that Kevin Durant would leave the Golden State Warriors after three seasons.

Knowing this, Bob Myers and the front office moved swiftly once reports surfaced that Durant would join the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.

The Golden State Warriors were gifted a difficult situation when Kevin Durant opted to leave, but since then, they’ve made the most of his departure.

The ensuing sign-and-trade deal may have now triggered one of the most remarkable, and important, sequences of events in Warriors’ recent history.

Faced with losing Durant for nothing, the Warriors convinced the Nets to give up D’Angelo Russell for Durant and what has now resulted as a 2025 second-round pick. To orchestrate this, the Warriors also needed to ship another Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, to Memphis along with a protected 2024 first-round pick.

Losing Durant, Iguodala, and picks for Russell seemed horrific at the time, but it was better than nothing and ultimately both Durant and the Nets did the Warriors a favor by agreeing to the sign-and-trade.

Ever since that first transaction, Bob Myers and the front office have sought to improve the outcome of that initial deal.

After just 33 games with the franchise, Russell was dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins and a 2021 top-three protected first-round pick.

It made sense for the Warriors simply from the Wiggins-Russell swap, acquiring a player in a position of need for a player supplemental to their needs. Wiggins has proven to be a very good addition, turning himself into a reliable two-way wing within the Warriors system.

The big chip in the trade was the first-round pick, one that eventually materialized as number seven following the 2021 NBA draft lottery. After initially shopping the pick pre-draft for experienced talent, Golden State drafted Congolese-born Jonathan Kuminga.

It may still be early days in Kuminga’s career, but everything we’ve seen from him in Summer League has screamed star potential. Ultimately, acquiring him and Wiggins for Durant when they could have got nothing was a shrewd move by the front office.

Oh, and the Warriors just re-acquired Iguodala during free agency. Who knows, there may still be plenty to play out. Golden State could very well move Wiggins and Kuminga for another superstar player should they become available.

On the other side of things, the deal could come completely full circle. Imagine if Durant and the Nets faced Wiggins, Kuminga, and the Warriors in the NBA Finals, a potential scenario we could even see within 12 months.