Report: Kevin Durant willing to accept less than max contract next year

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The Warriors will have seven free agents this summer who are in Golden State’s playoff rotation:

And then there’s Kevin Durant, who holds a $27,734,405 player option for next season.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is willing to take less than the maximum contract extension he is eligible for this summer as a 10-year veteran if it helps the Warriors keep the core of their team intact, league sources told ESPN.

Durant’s projected max salary next season is more than $35 million. But the Warriors would need cap space to pay him more than $31,848,120 (120% of his salary this year, which could be offered through Non-Bird Rights, technically a form of Bird Rights). To get that cap space, they’d have to renounce Iguodala, Livingston and most of their low-paid free agents (where the cap lands would determine exactly how many).

Obviously, Curry isn’t going anywhere. But another product of his relatively low-paying contract extension is a relatively low free agent amount. Golden State can hold him at $18,168,539 until settling all its other business than replace that cap hold with a designated-veteran-player contract projected to be worth $205 million over five years.

Iguodala and Livingston are the big pivot points.

The Warriors have full Bird Rights on both, but the team loses those Bird Rights if the players are renounced to clear cap space for Durant. If Durant opts in (for $27,734,405) or opts out to accept the Non-Bird Exception (much more likely with a starting salary of $31,848,120 and the ability to add extra years), Golden State could re-sign Iguodala and Livingston to any salary up to the max.

Such an arrangement would come with risk for Durant and the Warriors.

If Durant takes a discount next season, he might not lock into a long-term contract with annual raises limited by a low starting salary. He could sign another 1+1 deal and re-sign with Early Bird Rights in 2018, when he’d be eligible for his full max starting salary (projected to be nearly $36 million) and larger raises (8% vs. 4% this year).

Though Durant has expressed nothing but satisfaction with his time in Golden State, every free agency presents an opportunity to leave. He also loses financial security on a short-term contract.

If Durant opts in or opts out to accept the Non-Bird Exception, the Warriors would also maintain Bird Rights for Zaza Pachulia (Non-Bird), Ian Clark (Early Bird), David West (Non-Bird) and JaVale McGee (Non-Bird). Unlike with Iguodala and Livingston, Golden State would still have financial constraints for its Early Bird and Non-Bird players. Their projected maxes for re-signing without cap space:

  • Clark: Projected $6.5 million (must be on contract for 2-4 years, not including option years)
  • Pachulia: $3,477,600
  • West: $2,794,382
  • McGee: $2,540,346

Is that enough to keep any? Pachulia and West have already taken discounts to join the Warriors. McGee has found a team that maximizes his value, and other teams might be skeptical of what he could do for them. Clark is a wild card.

But even such a strong possibility of keeping the core of a championship contender – maybe champion – is such a boon. It’s in Durant’s hands now.

Kyrie Irving, any regrets about using profanity toward fan? “Hell no.”

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Fans yelling obscenities at NBA players and trying to goad them into a response — always while camera phones are recording — has become a thing. DeMarcus Cousins will be paying $25,000 for responding to a fan cursing at him in Memphis.

Kyrie Irving is likely going to get fined for an incident Friday night after the Celtics knocked off the Sixers in Philadephia. It made the rounds on social media Friday night, with a fan yelling at Irving as he leaves the court “Kyrie, where’s LeBron?” and Irving responding with a crude phrase. Here is the exchange as Irving leaves the court (NOTE: The language is NSFW, if offended don’t watch the video).

Saturday Irving was asked about the incident, and he admitted he should have bit his tongue, but he has no regrets, as reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

“Hell no,” Irving said (when asked if he had regrets). “Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s the social media platform we live on.

Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”

Irving also addressed the bigger issue, something Cousins discussed when talking about his fine. Via Chris Forsberg at ESPN.

“At the end of the day, we’re human. It’s in heat of the moment and frustrations arise, we were at halftime, we were down by 4, in an environment, a season-opener in Philly. Being with a young team like we have here and staying composed, handling that before we go in the locker room and addressing what we have to do in the locker room and going out and handling business and getting the W, that’s really the only thing that matters to me.

“It’s up to the league at this point. But, like I said, I’m going to take full responsibility for what I said. I don’t have any regrets for it.”

Irving is going to get fined. The league has issues with its players cursing at fans. Understandably.

That said, the league may need to step back on consider situations like this. If fans are taunting players, at what point should a player be able to respond to the fan? Should arena security (at the request of the officials, or maybe a player) intervene? Players should not be asked to bite their tongue no matter what is said, and even if a fan paid for a ticket it doesn’t give them the right to cross any line. As more fans seem to go after their 15 minutes of social media fame baiting players, the league may need to reconsider where it draws its lines.

Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

That’s going to cost Cousins.

Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.