OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant still was in a hospital bed recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon in New York. Klay Thompson hobbled out of Oracle Arena on crutches with a torn ACL. Once all of the tears were shed and the lockers cleared, the Toronto Raptors left with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
But with the Raptors still celebrating the first title in franchise history, goggles still in place on the champagne-soaked team hours after the series-clinching Game 6 win was complete Thursday night, Caesars Sportsbook in Las Vegas released the odds on next year’s NBA champion.
And it was the Warriors installed as a 3-1 favorite.
“Yeah. I think everybody thinks it’s kind of the end of us,” Green said at his postgame news conference. “But that’s just not smart. We’re not done yet. We lost this year. Clearly just wasn’t our year, but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, it’s the end of a run and all that jazz. I don’t see it happening, though. We’ll be back.”
It was the fifth straight NBA Finals appearance for the Warriors, who won three times.
“It’s a tough feeling being on this side of losing in the Finals,” Steph Curry said after the game. “But I think a lot has been proven about who we are as a team and the fight that we have and all the adversity that we dealt with in this entire playoff run. It’s a one-possession game to keep our season alive tonight.
“So we’ll be thinking about this one, it’s tough. But our DNA and who we are and the character that we have on this team, I wouldn’t bet against us being back on this stage next year and going forward. So really proud of the way that we fought until the end and this five-year run’s been awesome, but definitely don’t think it’s over.”
The Warriors, however, face a very uncertain future. Thompson will be a free agent and Durant can opt out of the final year of his contract. Even if they return, Durant almost certainly will miss the entire 2019-20 season and Thompson would be a late-season addition at best.
Even if they are without Durant and Thompson next season, the Warriors won’t need to tank. Curry and Green will return. They can bring back Andre Iguodala. Maybe Shaun Livingston will decide not to retire. Kevon Looney will be a free agent, but the team has his rights.
But the decisions won’t be easy for ownership. Heading to a new arena, the plan was to arrive with a stocked roster of stars, the sort of sales pitch for the pricey suites that prompted the Nets to mortgage their future for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry when they were headed to Brooklyn. Now the Warriors must decide if they will offer five-year max contracts to Durant and Thompson with the knowledge that neither might play next season.
“We can sit here and say, well, if this hadn’t happened or that hadn’t happened,” coach Steve Kerr said. “That doesn’t matter. What matters is Kevin Durant is going to miss next season with an Achilles tear and Klay suffered a knee injury.
“And we’ll know, as I said, we’ll know more before too long. But it’s just brutal. It’s just brutal what these guys have had to deal with and what they’re dealing with right now.”
Raptors prez Ujiri accused
Authorities will push for a battery charge against Raptors president Masai Ujiri after the executive was accused of pushing and hitting a sheriff’s deputy in the face as Ujiri tried to get onto the court after Thursday night’s Game 6.
Ujiri was denied access to the court by the deputy because he didn’t have a proper credential, Alameda County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s when he tried to push past our deputy, and our deputy pushed him back, and there was another push that kind of moved up and struck our deputy in the face,” Kelly said.
Several bystanders intervened and Ujiri got onto the court without displaying any credentials, Kelly said. --AP