OAKLAND, Calif. - The Warriors think and talk about long-term plans that cover every best-case and worst-case scenario.
As the Warriors enter the 2018-19 season, Kevin Durant's pending free agency next season serves as the most vivid example. Will he re-sign with the Warriors as he has done every summer for the past two years? Or will he decide he is better off pursuing NBA championships, scoring records and business deals elsewhere?
"For some reason, everyone thinks this year is different than last," Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob told Bay Area News Group. "I don't see that."
Lacob's reasoning: Look at the Warriors' banners. They have three of them in the past four years. Look at the trophies. Durant has collected two consecutive NBA titles and Finals MVPS since joining the Dubs in 2016. Look at the business opportunities. Durant can re-sign with the Warriors next season to a five-year deal worth $219 million, along with maintain and expanding his business portfolio in Silicon Valley.
"It's not even on my mind," Lacob said. "There's no more uncertainty this year than there was last. He's been on a one-year deal each year. So I don't really understand what all the hullabaloo is about."
The source of the hullabaloo stems from Durant's obvious star power and uncertainty on what variables he will measure with his next contract. Will he value the Warriors' championship equity, team-oriented culture and monetary advantage? Or does Durant want to prove he can win elsewhere without the Warriors' three other All-Stars in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green?
"He loves being a part of our organization and being a part of the Bay Area," Lacob said of Durant. "He's earned the right to be a free agent or do whatever he wants in terms of contract status. I would let it play out and see what happens. I'm not too worried about it."
The Warriors might enter this season as heavy favorites because of those players along with DeMarcus Cousins' arrival this past season. They do face questions, though, on if they can agree to an extension with Thompson and Green, Cousins' rehab from a left Achilles tendon, their young players and Patrick McCaw's absence. The biggest uncertainty, though, traces back to Durant.
"You have to focus on the things you can control, which is our winning culture and how we treat people," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. "You don't change."
Myers likened the Warriors' approach toward keeping Durant to dating. Do not make promises you can't keep. Do not exaggerate your self importance. Listen. Make him feel comfortable. Therefore, the Warriors downplay whether they need to spend this season selling Durant to stay with them longer.
"He came because he liked what he saw," Myers said. "He's enjoyed it. So don't change anything. It's worked so far. And it's too hard to be somebody that you're not anyway. It just takes too much energy."
The Warriors have not simply told Durant to look at their banners and touch their trophies. Ever since Durant joined the Warriors two years ago, they have kept lines of communication open among the front office, coaching staff and teammates. Therefore, if Durant has had any misgivings about the environment, his role or anything else, the Warriors already know about it. After Durant won his second Finals MVP following the Warriors' four-game sweep against the Cavs four months ago, he credited Myers and coach Steve Kerr for often having lunch with him during both the good and the bad.
"I have no doubt we have a great organization and a great place to play. We're going to a new arena next year. I don't know why anybody wouldn't want to be a part of it," Lacob said. "We'll continue to always treat all our players really well so they always want to be a part of this team whether they're under contract or not under contract."
The Warriors would like to agree to an extension with Thompson before he becomes a free agent next summer. Same thing with Green before he is on the market in 2020. They are talking with their reps, but nothing has changed. Both want to enter the open market, though, to maximize their deal.
Still, Thompson has said countlessly he wants to stay with the Warriors for his whole career, even at a relative hometown discount. The Warriors feel the same way. As Lacob said, "we want him to be with us for a long time. I feel pretty confident he will be."
As for Green? That is less certain. He believes it is hard to quantify his value both in a box score and on a spreadsheet. Generally, though, Green wants to stay with the Warriors. Incidentally, he exited a loading dock just as Lacob was talking to this publication. Lacob then said, "I love Draymond!" Green smiled and said, "I love Joe!" They then exchanged pleasantries.
Neither Lacob nor Myers make anything from preseason. They also declined to offer projections on Cousins' pending return and what their young core can do, including rookie Jacob Evans, third-year center Damian Jones, fourth-year forward Kevon Looney and fourth-year guard Quinn Cook.
The Warriors made those moves because they believed their future success hinged on acquiring more All-Star talent and developing younger and potentially less expensive players. The Warriors have suggested those new pieces will help them stay better motivated this season. Do not tell that to Lacob, though.
"I don't know why they would have any problem being engaged. It's a completely new NBA season," Lacob said. "That was the past. This is the now. We're trying to win a championship."
As the Warriors try to win their third consecutive NBA championship, Lacob offered another goal. He admitted it "bugs me" the Warriors did not have home-court advantage in the 2018 Western Conference Finals to Houston, despite still winning in seven games.
"You need to shoot for the first seed ever year," Lacob said. "Coaches tend to disagree with all of that. Guys get older and need to get more rest. So they don't worry about the No. 1 seed. I don't agree with that theory. I think you need to be on edge to be great to win. Otherwise, you lose your edge. And there's always somebody else trying to take your head off."
Because of that, Myers admitted feeling uneasy despite fielding five All-Stars in their starting lineup.
"A lot of people don't want to talk about it, but it's going to be a hard season," Myers said. "There's a challenge to the year."
Myers cited a competitive Western Conference. The Rockets lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, but acquired Carmelo Anthony to complement Chris Paul and James Harden. The Thunder retained Paul George to team again with Russell Westbrook. The Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James, who is expected to produce a Hollywood blockbuster with his young supporting cast.
"None of that is our problem," Lacob said. We just have to do our thing and play. We have a very talented roster. Most people have us as the favorites. I'll let other people decide that."
If that prediction pans out, the Warriors will cement themselves in NBA history. They would become the sixth team in league history to win three consecutive titles, and the first since the 2000-02 Lakers. They would also join the 1957-1966 Boston Celtics teams as the only team to appear in at least five consecutive NBA Finals.
"Three-peating is obviously daunting in itself. But going to the Finals five years in a row as an organization, win or lose, that's an accomplishment that is going to be hard to obtain this year," Myers said. "Even if it is or isn't, someone duplicating that is a tough thing to do."
That explains why Myers and Lacob profess they are not consumed about Durant's future. They want to win another ring first.