Marc Stein of ESPN:
To offer Durant more than $31,848,120 in 2017-18, Golden State will need cap space. Durant’s max starting salary projects to be about $36 million.
Will he take a discount? In the likely event the answer is no, the Warriors must preserve cap 2017 cap space.
They currently project to have enough room to re-sign Durant to the max and re-sign Stephen Curry through Bird Rights. But that’d leave just about $13 million for Andre Iguodala and any other free agents.
Plus, that also assumes Golden State doesn’t sign anyone to a multi-year contract this summer. That might be what it takes to retain Festus Ezeli, who could start at center with Andrew Bogut likely on the move.
Other free agents — including Brandon Rush, Leandro Barbosa, James Michael McAdoo and Ian Clark and even outsiders with the room exception or minimum deals — will be more tempted by multi-year contracts. The Warriors will have a hard enough time building depth this summer. Needing to maintain 2017 space makes the challenge even greater.
Durant can receive just 4.5% raises and a four-year contract if he re-signs next year, so he might even take another 1+1 deal to cash in later. He could receive 7.5% raises in 2017 (though that’d require signing for between two and four years, as LeBron James is dealing with now). In 2018, Durant could get 7.5% raises and a five-year contract.
And there’s the bigger question of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Either side can opt out this December, and a new deal could vastly change the outlook. Indicators are terms will be more favorable to superstars like Durant, but the possibilities are endless. There’s major risk on Durant’s end.
Golden State somewhat lucked into this situation — Curry signing a relatively low-paying extension due to injuries that subsided and the salary cap skyrocketing just as a former MVP interested in joining the Warriors hit the market. Don’t underestimate the Warriors’ ability to take advantage and sign Durant, but the greater circumstances that fostered this situation were out of their control.
Now, the challenge is totally up to them, and it’s a big one: Build a championship-caliber supporting cast around Curry, Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson immediately and save 2017 cap room to re-sign Durant. It won’t be easy.