The Warriors have spent two years dedicated to pursuing Kevin Durant and even as they recognize the long odds of pulling him out of Oklahoma City, he is, for all they hope their team to be, Plans A, B and C on the free-agent market.
There is a D and an F and an E and maybe more, though, and the Warriors likely will be forced to resort to choosing one of them.
They won’t be overjoyed about it. But general manager Bob Myers, already established as one of the NBA’s brightest young executives, will face his toughest test in moving the Warriors forward, as a contender, without Durant.
If Durant stays in OKC –- a decision is expected by the middle of next week –- the Warriors will be in position to match offers to restricted free agents Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli.
There are other free-agent options on the board. Here are 12 possibilities and the likelihood, based on salary expectations, availability and desirability, of them joining the Warriors.
THE BIG MEN
Al Horford (Hawks): Just turned 30 and is the most stable and skilled 4/5 on the market, still with a few good years remaining. The Warriors would love to have him. Others, nearly all in the Eastern Conference, likely will pay him far more. 15 percent.
Pau Gasol (Bulls): Has skills similar to Horford, a bit weaker on defense but better at passing/rebounding. Coming off a good season but he turns 36 next week, so he’ll be reasonably affordable. Region and culture matter to Gasol. 50 percent.
Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks): Just turned 38 and no longer capable of 35 minutes a night. But no 7-footer shoots it better, and that has not changed. Dirk is loyal to Mavs owner Mark Cuban, but could be excused if Dallas rebuilds. 20 percent.
Hassan Whiteside (Heat): Most intriguing big man in the league. Has very high talent, very low maturity. At 27, he’s tantalizing – for another team. Warriors tend to shy away from someone perceived as an emotional project. 5 percent.
Dwight Howard (Rockets): Once an object of Warriors desires, the fascination with Howard, now 30, has faded. He’d have to fit in, and he hasn’t done that in either of his last two stops. 5 percent.
Bismack Biyombo (Raptors): He’s only 23 and his motor is relentless. Or is it? The question is whether his playoff performance amounts to fool’s gold. Though the Warriors will take risks, they’ll let others ride this one: 5 percent.
Marvin Williams (Hornets): Respected vet just turned 30, a power forward who can play small forward, versatility the Warriors value. Has solid character and can shoot the 3-ball. He’s not a star, but he’s a nice fourth option on offense. 35 percent.
Nic Batum (Hornets): Most skilled true wing on the market (non-Durant division). He’s 27 and plays a nice all-around game at both ends. He’d be a nice addition, but not worth backing up the truck – though someone surely will. 15 percent.
Chandler Parsons (Mavericks): Likely out of Dallas, the 27-year-old is a good offensive player who brings nothing on defense. He is, however, versatile enough to play power forward in a small lineup. He’s said to want big money. 10 percent.
Ryan Anderson (Pelicans): Sacramento native may be the best 3-ball shooter on the market – and the worst defender. At 28, he’s likely to be defined by those characteristics. Not sure that works for the Warriors. 10 percent.
Luol Deng (Heat): Deng is a solid two-way player whose listed age is 31, though some say he may be older. Either way, he projects to be affordable and able to swing between forward spots. How much is left in those legs? 25 percent.
Ersan Ilyasova: Traded to OKC last week, he’ll almost certainly be dumped if Durant returns to the Thunder. Recently turned 29, he’s a good shooter with a history of being indifferent on defense. 15 percent.
Free agency can be the source of a new foundation, as was the case with Shaquille O’Neal going to the Lakers in 1996, Steve Nash going to Phoenix in 2004, LeBron James going to Miami in 2010 and back to Cleveland in 2014, or LaMarcus Aldridge to San Antonio in 2015.
The Warriors’ experience with free agency has, however, more often resulted in disappointment or pain or, worse, forcing them to rebuild or simply wander off to the outskirts of the league. They’ve lost more often than they’ve gained.
To wit: Baron Davis, leaving for the Clippers in 2008 and Gilbert Arenas, leaving for the Wizards in 2004. Worst of all, there were Jamaal Wilkes (Lakers) and Gus Williams (Supersonics) both leaving the Bay Area in 1977.
The Warriors hope to receive great news once contracts can be signed (9:01 p.m. PDT July 7). They’d yearn for Durant, but they’ll be ready to retool with others around the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.