Kevin Durant is going to be a free agent this summer.
That is just a technicality, however. Unlike LeBron James or Paul George or DeAndre Jordan — free agents whose landing spots this summer are to be determined — Durant isn’t going anywhere. He wants to stay a Warrior.
However, after doing the team a favor and not bleeding them dry last summer in a new short-term deal (allowing the Warriors to retain Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston), Durant now is going to opt out negotiate something longer-term and for more cash, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.
A nine-time All-Star and the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Durant will be turning down a salary of $26.2 million, a figure well below that for a player of his caliber, in order to restructure a new deal with the Warriors, sources said.
It has yet to be decided what contractual route Durant will take, sources say, but there are no real incentives — for himself or for the team — to take such a drastic reduction in pay this time around.
Maxed out, Durant can make north of $35 million next season, with his contracts going up from there. The Warriors will pay him whatever he asks, the only question is how deep it will take the Warriors into the luxury tax. Even without Durant on the books, Golden State has about $102 million in salary locked in for nine roster spots. The salary cap is estimated to be about $108 million, with the luxury tax line at about $130 million — with Durant the Warriors will be into the tax, and they will still have to round out the roster with four or five (likely at a minimum salary). Their free agents include David West, Kevin Looney, Zaza Pachulia, Nick Young, and JaVale McGee.
Durant could get a four-year deal worth around $158 million (final numbers will depend on the final salary cap number), or take a shorter deal that gets him out sooner and into the free agent market again. As a third option, he could sign four-year with player options after the first two or three years, which would let him jump back in the market sooner.
He also could take less money again, but don’t bet on it. KD has earned the right to get paid.