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.

Watch LeBron James rack up triple-double, help Lakers pull-away from Nets

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NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in his 10th triple-double of the season and the Los Angeles Lakers made a season-high 19 3-pointers to pull away and beat the Brooklyn Nets 128-113 on Thursday night.

James closed within 17 points of Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA’s career scoring list with a flurry in the fourth quarter. He can pass Bryant on Saturday at Philadelphia, where the five-time champion with the Lakers was born.

James has 33,626 points. Bryant finished with 33,643.

A back-and-forth game for nearly three quarters turned into a rout after the Lakers broke the Nets’ spirits with four straight 3-pointers spanning the third and fourth quarters, extending a one-point lead to 107-94, and Los Angeles coasted from there.

Anthony Davis had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Dwight Howard finished with 14 points and 12 boards in his first start of the season.

Kyrie Irving scored 20 points after missing a game with right hamstring tightness, but the Nets lost their fifth straight. Brooklyn has won just two of its last 14 games.

The Nets were without backup centers DeAndre Jordan and Nicolas Claxton, leaving them without many options behind starter Jarrett Allen. But they struggled just as badly guarding the perimeter. Los Angeles was 19 of 38 behind the arc.

The Lakers led 38-35 after one, before both teams made seven 3-pointers in the second. Howard went 4 for 4 for eight points in the period, helping the Lakers take a 75-70 lead to halftime.

Danny Green made three 3s in the first four minutes of the third, pushing the lead to 88-75, but the Nets had it down to 95-94 after a 3-pointer by Irving with 49 seconds remaining. But then Davis and Rajon Rondo hit 3s before Jared Dudley, who played in Brooklyn last season, hit one from near the Nets’ bench to beat the buzzer and make it 104-94.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made it four straight 3s to open the fourth, extending the lead back to 13. James then scored eight in the period before taking a seat for good.

 

Check out Jordan Brand/Nike designed All-Star Game uniforms

Image courtesy Jordan Brand
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It’s only fitting that Jordan brand has a significant role with the All-Star Game coming to Chicago.

Jordan Brand designed this year’s ASG uniforms and took its inspiration from the Chicago transit line. Here’s the explanation, straight from the press release (because you don’t want me trying to describe fashion, trust me):

Jordan Brand and Nike designers incorporated the color of each track into the uniforms as a base: blue and red for the NBA All-Star Game; purple and orange for NBA Rising Stars; green and pink for the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Ruffles; and brown and yellow for the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game. The Jordan Brand official NBA All-Star game uniforms add the six-pointed star from the Chicago flag as the symbolic refrain while inviting the attitude of the ‘90s-era alternate uniforms worn by the hometown Bulls.

Take a look at them yourself:

The red and blue will be worn by Team LeBron and Team Giannis during the All-Star Game, with other colors for the Rising Star and Celebrity games.

Of course, they are available for sale at NBAStore.com and Nike.com.

Watch Trae Young’s emotional reaction to being named an All-Star Game starter

Trae Young
Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images
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Trae Young is an All-Star Game starter at age 21 in just his second NBA season.

While that was not a total surprise — he had led the fan voting in the East among guards since the start — it still was an emotional moment for Young when it was announced (as filmed by his teammate Brandon Goodwin for IG).

Young and Kemba Walker were named the backcourt starters for the Eastern Conference (although both will go into a pool of players picked playground-style by the captains to form teams).

There are two 21-and-under starters in this All-Star Game, Young and Luka Doncic of Dallas. The last time there were two starters under age 21 was 1998 with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

Stephen Curry: I wanted Knicks, not Warriors, to draft me

Stephen Curry
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images
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Stephen Curry‘s agent and father tried to steer him to the Knicks during the 2009 NBA draft.

They weren’t acting autonomously.

Curry on “All The Smoke” podcast:

I wanted to go to New York and thought I was going to New York. I was in the draft in the green room like, oh, get to the eight spot, and New York can get me.

Instead, the Warriors picked Curry No. 7. The Knicks took Jordan Hill at No. 8.

Curry’s sentiment was understandable. Golden State had made the playoffs only once in the previous 15 years. The Knicks hadn’t been much better lately, but at least they offered the glamorous New York market.

It worked out well for Curry, whose agency even made last-ditch efforts to convince the Warriors to pass on him. He blossomed into an all-time great player on a team that gave him an incredible supporting cast. Curry has won three championships in Golden State and says he wants to retire there.

The Knicks, on the other hand, have largely struggled since. They were above average for a few years, but that’s it. Hill washed out after eight unremarkable NBA seasons.

Curry in New York is an interesting “what if?” Would he have overcome that franchise’s deep-seated problems?

Fortunately for him – and contrary to his initial hopes – he never had to find out.