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Report: Warriors significant front-runners to sign Durant if he leaves OKC

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With NBA All-Star Weekend around the corner, rumors and innuendo regarding player movement will ramp up and won't dissipate until the summer. And with one of the league's top three players facing unrestricted free agency in the offseason, the Kevin Durant sweepstakes are officially underway.

Should Durant choose to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Golden State Warriors are significant front-runners to sign him, sources told Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

The idea of the stacked world-champion Warriors having serious interest in Durant first surfaced last spring, when Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Mychal Thompson - the father of Dubs sharpshooter Klay Thompson - suggested the team would "go hard" after Durant.

Durant has always sounded committed to the Thunder, and there is a belief he has a fair degree of loyalty to the franchise that drafted him. He is, however, known to place winning high on his list of priorities. Many view this season as make-or-break for the Thunder, who have reached the NBA Finals once - four seasons ago - during Durant and Russell Westbrook's tenure in Oklahoma City.

With the league's salary cap jumping next season, many teams will be less constricted financially. It's believed that up to a dozen franchises could mount serious pitches to the 2014 NBA MVP. Wojnarowski reports one of those will also be the Los Angeles Clippers, who "won't hesitate" to move Blake Griffin and replace him with Durant if the opportunity presents itself.

Even with the increased cap, however, the Warriors would have some decisions to make to accommodate Durant. One of them would likely be renouncing their rights to current small forward Harrison Barnes, who is due to be a restricted free agent next summer.

Role players such as Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, and Brandon Rush are set to come off the books, while the contracts of Shaun Livingston and Jason Thompson are non-guaranteed next season.

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