Kevin Durant went into the summer saying he would take less than the maximum contract he could have squeezed out of Golden State, all in the name of helping the team retain key reserves — which they did. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and David West all will return.
Now it’s time for Durant to get paid. It was expected he would take the max 20% raise the Warriors could give him on an extension of his own deal — a contract starting at $31.6 million — which shaved about $3 million off of what he could have gotten. However, he’s going to take even less than that a story first broken by Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News.
Durant, according to multiple sources, is not just passing on the new maximum contract he could get, which would start at $34.65 million. His plan is to also take entire raise he is eligible for, which would start his salary at $31.6 million.
Could he go as low as $28 million? Or $25 million?
The exact figure is being worked out now, but Durant’s willingness to take even less than his expected 20 percent bump is how the Warriors were able to sign Andre Iguodala for $48 million and Shaun Livingston for $24 million, both over three years.
Chris Haynes of ESPN then came in with the details.
ESPN Sources: Kevin Durant will agree to re-sign with Golden State on a two-year, approximately $53 million deal, league sources tell ESPN.
This is a $9 million one-year gift from Durant. He will sign a 1+1 contract, opt-out next year and can get a max contract starting at the near $35 million number.
It’s a big gift. Warriors ownership is understandably concerned about the tax bill they have coming — have you ever heard of a rich guy good with any tax? — and this will help reduce that number for a year. It’s a gesture to the team and franchise that he prioritizes winning. Sam Amick of the USA Today also threw in this note.
Side story about Durant: If Andre Iguodala had left, I'm told Durant was going to give even more than this back to make room for Rudy Gay.
Obviously, the loss hit the players — Kobe and LeBron James were friends, plus he had been a mentor to Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, and many others — but also the team support staff and entire organization. Kobe was a 20-year Laker employee who was the face of a franchise and who had ties not just in the locker room but also on the business side and throughout the company. On Monday, the Lakers reportedly brought grief counselors into the office to help employees cope with the loss.
Considering all that, the NBA announced that it will postpone the Clippers/Lakers game that had been scheduled for Tuesday night at Staples Center. From the media release:
“The decision was made out of respect for the Lakers organization, which is deeply grieving the tragic loss of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Sunday. The game will be rescheduled at a later date.”
It was the right move by the league.
Lakers players, coaches and officials and entire organization have been deeply grieving loss of Kobe Bryant. “These guys are not ready to play basketball right now,” one source close to Lakers and Clippers players said today. https://t.co/bsDgCGoxeU
The Lakers’ next scheduled game is Friday night at home against Portland.
No makeup date is scheduled, but there are limited opportunities on the NBA schedule — and that of Staples Center, which also is home to the NHL’s Kings plus hosts concerts and events — to add a game. It could be April before this game is made up. That late in the season the game could have serious seeding implications in the West for one or both teams.
That, however, is secondary right now.
Kobe Bryant said he traveled by helicopter to spend more time with kids
Traffic started getting really, really bad. Right? And I was sitting in traffic, and I wound up missing a school play, because I was sitting in traffic. And these things just kept mounting. I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft, but still not compromise family time. And so that’s when I looked into helicopters and being able to get down and back in 15 minutes. And that’s when it started. So, my routine was always the same. Weights early in the morning, kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, do my extra work, media, everything I needed to do, fly back, get back in the carpool line, pick the kids up. And my wife was like, “Listen, I can pick them up.” I’m like, “No, no, no. I want to do that.” Because you have road trips and times where you’re not – you don’t see your kids, you know? So, every chance I get to see them and spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car, I want that.
The irony and tragedy of Bryant and his daughter dying in a helicopter crash is just gut-wrenching.
A few months ago, the Grizzlies thought so little of Josh Jackson, they didn’t even bring him to training camp. He remained on an NBA contract. Memphis gained no roster or salary-cap flexibility. The Grizzlies planned to send him to their minor-league affiliate, but the Hustle hadn’t yet opened their training camp. There was nowhere else for Jackson to be. The Grizzlies just didn’t want him around.
Now, Jackson will get his chance on the parent club.
The Memphis Grizzlies have recalled Josh Jackson from the NBA G League’s Memphis Hustle.
Jackson has appeared in 26 games for the Hustle this season and has averaged 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.5 blocks.
Magic Johnson – one of the NBA’s brightest stars – stood behind a podium, smiled and shook the world. Johnson had HIV and was retiring from the Lakers, he announced. Confusion, speculation and, most prominently, grief followed. Everyone thought he’d die. Charles Barkley said, “It’s kind of like somewhat of a death of a brother.” Larry Bird called it “probably the toughest day I’ve had since my father passed away, and I’ve been very depressed and sort of been out of it.” Pat Riley called for a moment of silence before a game.
More than 28 years later, Johnson mourned Kobe Bryant.
Bryant’s death yesterday was the tragedy everyone believed Johnson’s diagnosis to be. Sudden. Crushing. Unbelievable. All the same emotions came pouring out. Except this time there was no mistaking the finality.
Johnson has continued living, thriving, inspiring. He’s a renowned businessman, beloved celebrity and fantastic ambassador for basketball. It’s the type of retirement expected for Bryant, because why wouldn’t it be?
The NBA has grown accustomed to its titans aging gracefully. Unlike baseball, the NBA hasn’t existed long enough for multiple generations of old-timers to pass away. Unlike football, the NBA doesn’t subject its players to such traumatic physical tolls.
Just two MVPs in all of NBA history had died, Wilt Chamberlain (age 63 in 1999) and Moses Malone (age 60 in 2015), and those deaths felt far too soon.
Bryant was only 41.
Just four All-Stars died younger. Don Sunderlage was in a car crash at age 31 in 1961. Maurice Stokes suffered a head injury during a game, became paralyzed then – after teammate Jack Twyman cared for him for 12 years – died at age 36 in 1970. Pete Maravich had a heart issue while playing pickup basketball at age 40 in 1988. Reggie Lewis suffered a heart attack during what should have been the midst of his career at age 27 in 1993.
Lewis – like Len Bias (who died of a cocaine overdose at age 22 in 1986) and Drazen Petrovic (who died in a car crash at age 28 in 1993) – never got to fulfill their potentials. That creates its own kind of anguish.
There is no analogue to Bryant’s death.
Bryant’s accomplishments – one MVP, five championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, 11 All-NBA first teams, two All-NBA second teams, two All-NBA third teams and 18 All-Star appearances – place him among the very greatest of all-time greats. No player anywhere near that stature had ever died anywhere near this young.
Bryant could be charming and ruthless, sometimes simultaneously. His play and conduct earned him loyal fans and harsh critics. The never-ending Kobe debates seemed only to inflame the passion of his supporters.
Few adored him like fellow NBA players. They admired his skill and determination. He responded by mentoring many. It’s difficult to overstate just how cherished Bryant was in this league.
Few understand the cold realities of the NBA like Austin Rivers. He grew up with his father, Doc Rivers, frequently gone playing and coaching. As a result, they aren’t particularly close. Now an NBA player himself, Austin speaks of their distant relationship with far more acceptance than wistfulness. He’s too focused on competing to do much else.
Yesterday, Austin cried on the court:
Then, explained how little he cared about the Rockets losing a basketball game:
Others shed tears in arenas around the country. The NBA could have cancelled yesterday’s games. Playing while grieving proved difficult for many.
There was just no good way to handle the loss. Mere moments of silence felt insufficient.
The Spurs and Raptors began their game yesterday with shot-clock violations in honor of his No. 24. Other teams exchanged a shot-clock violation and eight-second violation in honor of his other number. Trae Youngwore No. 8.