Golden State Warriors

What's next for Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant as he enters his 30s?

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Kevin Durant (NBA Canada Illustration)

Kevin Durant turned 30 this offseason which means it's a good opportunity to look forward at what's to come for a nine-time All-Star in the prime of his career who is widely considered to be the second best player in the league.

Or try to, at least.

We know for certain that Durant will be in Golden State for a minimum of one more season after he signed a new contract with the Warriors this offseason. After that, there's one of two directions his career can go...

Option 1: Durant stays put

For the most part, Durant knows what he's getting himself into if he stays in Golden State.

Having signed a five-year extension with the Warriors last offseason, Stephen Curry is now under contract until 2021-22. While there's a possibility Klay Thompson and/or Draymond Green won't be on the roster by then - Thompson will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019 and Green will follow him the year after - both All-Stars have said they're hoping to stay in Golden State long-term.

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Sure Not Now

It obviously takes more than four players to win it all, but the Warriors will be a hot spot for role players and veterans as long as their core remains together, so it's hard to see their title window closing anytime soon.

For Durant, that would lead to even more opportunities to win titles and Finals MVP trophies as he enters his 30s.

Winning two more championships would put Durant on the same page as Shaquille O'Neal, Robert Parish, Tony Parker and a number of other players for the seventh-most all-time. Three more would put him on the same page as Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan for the sixth-most.

Anything more than that would put Durant in the Michael Jordan, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and John Havlicek range.

Durant is in rare company when it comes to Finals MVPs. Whereas one more would put him in a five-way tie with LeBron, Duncan, Shaq and Magic for the second-most all-time, two more would put him in a category of his own behind only Jordan.

Even without another regular season MVP, that would give Durant a resume few could match, especially if the Warriors manage to threepeat, fourpeat or even fivepeat.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean he's destined to stay in Golden State.

Option 2: Durant leaves Golden State

The other option is Durant follows in LeBron's footsteps by taking what he's learned from Golden State and applying it somewhere else, which could happen as soon as the 2019-20 season, as he has a player option in his contract following the 2018-19 season.

The teams projected to have the most cap space that summer range from the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets at the bottom of the standings to the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, two teams expected to compete in the Western Conference this season.

Joining the Lakers would mean Durant would share the spotlight with LeBron, but bringing a title to a city that has never won one before - such as Utah or Brooklyn - would likely change some of the narrative surrounding his career, much like it did for LeBron when he ended Cleveland's 52-year championship drought in 2016.

The risk in leaving Golden State, of course, would be that there's no guarantee of Durant winning again. Not only would the Warriors still have the makings of a championship team with Curry, Thompson and Green, it's impossible to know if Durant would make a new team as competitive as the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors or Los Angeles Lakers without knowing the surrounding talent.

The best case scenario is that removing Durant from the most dominant team in the league and putting him elsewhere would level the playing field, giving several teams an equal opportunity at winning the title as opposed to there being a clear-cut favorite.

That possibility is what makes Durant's future so interesting as he enters his 30s, though. On one hand, his next decision has the potential to change the way we look back on a legacy that is already destined for the Hall of Fame. On the other, it could change the entire landscape of the league - again.

Which option is Durant likely to choose? It's impossible to know now, but we should have a much better idea this time next year.

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