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Kevin Durant: If I take another $10 million pay cut, Warriors ‘going to start taking advantage of me’

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Kevin Durant will re-sign with the Warriors. He has already confirmed that.

But for how much?

For most players of his caliber, it’d be simple. The max salary – projected to be about $35 million – would be his salary. The only question would be whether he takes another 1+1 deal (with a 5% raise to the option year and the ability to sign for five years and 8% raises on his next contract with Golden State or a four-year deal (with 8% raises).

With Durant, there’s much more uncertainty.

He took a big pay cut last summer – some of it for no clear reason. Durant’s max salary was $34,682,550. By accepting $31,848,120 or less, he allowed the Warriors to keep Andre Iguodala‘s and Shaun Livingston‘s Bird Rights and more easily re-sign the pair. But Durant went even further – signing for $25,000,000.

That’s a $9,682,550 reduction from his true max and a $6,848,120 from the Non-Bird max that would have facilitated re-signing Iguodala and Livingston.

Durant, via Warriors Plus/Minus

Money has never been the sole reason why I made any decision. I just try to make a good basketball decision. And I’m sure, hopefully, the organization does right by me, as well. That stuff always has to align. But, for the most part, I try just to let my play do the talking and handle all that stuff. And we’ll talk about the details later.

Would he take another pay cut? Durant:

$10 million? Would that be smart?

Podcast host Tim Kawakami noted he wouldn’t have thought Durant would take such a big pay cut last year. Durant:

Me either. But I thought that, at that time, it was a good deal. But that’s not setting a good precedent for me if I’m like, “Man, I’m taking 10.” Now, they’re going to start taking advantage of me. You know what I’m saying? I know it’s a business, too. So, I’ve got a business to handle as well.

We’ll see what happens, but I don’t see myself taking that big of a cut.

Durant’s pay cut was obviously a short-term boon for the Warriors. They re-signed Iguodala and Livingston because of a portion of it. The additional reduction Durant took roughly covered Nick Young‘s salary – or, if you believe Golden State would have signed Young anyway, went straight into ownership’s pockets (multiplied by the luxury-tax savings).

But I’ve long wondered what the pay cut would mean for Durant and Golden State long-term.

Would he be more or less willing to take future pay cuts because of this one? How many pay cuts would he take? If it were a one-time offer, could the Warriors have waited for a different year? Was 2017 the only year he was willing?

Stephen Curry is already guaranteed a super-max contract through 2022. Klay Thompson will be a free agent in 2019, Draymond Green in 2020. Both will be due raises. In the highly likely event the Warriors pay the luxury tax next season, they’d face the repeater rate in 2020.

This team will get expensive in a hurry – to the point it could become unaffordable.

Durant taking a pay cut later, considering the luxury-tax implications, would go much further than it did this year. But if he wants every dollar from now on – which increasingly sounds like his approach – Golden State could face some tough decisions.

Paul George: I wanted Pacers to trade me to Spurs over Lakers

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When Paul George told the Pacers in 2017 he’d opt out the following year, the widespread assumption – fueled by George himself – was he wanted to join the Lakers.

Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:

George had another team on top of his wish list.

“I wanted to be traded to San Antonio,” George says. “We wanted to go to San Antonio first, and we didn’t make that happen.”

A league source confirmed that the Pacers and Spurs talked, but San Antonio lacked the assets to pair George with Leonard.

Despite Kawhi Leonard trying to persuade the Spurs to deal for George, Indiana traded George to the Thunder. George spent a couple years in Oklahoma City and appeared mostly happy. But he requested and received a trade to join Leonard on the Clippers last summer, finally uniting the star forwards.

At the time of George’s Pacers trade saga, there was a theory he was using a veneer of Lakers interest to help his new team maintain assets. The threat of George leaving in 2018 free agency for Los Angeles reduced the quality of offers to Indiana. The Thunder’s package certainly looked meager (though Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis blossomed with the Pacers). Then, George re-signed with Oklahoma City without even meeting with the Lakers. This revelation only further supports that theory.

Is it true, though? George now plays with Leonard on L.A.’s rival team. He might want to show his affinity for Leonard and distance himself from the Lakers. This story accomplishes both.

I’ll definitely give George this: Whatever his motivations, he said on the record the Spurs were his first choice in 2017. He didn’t hide behind the cloak of anonymity. So, I’m inclined to believe him.

Bulls unveil blue uniforms (photo)

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Michael Jordan famously wore a pair of North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform.

Now, Chicago will bring baby blue to the surface.

Bulls:

These are a major-departure from the Bulls’ red-and-black color scheme. Even the logo is altered.

Such deviations are becoming normalized. The Magic will wear orange. Expect other teams to get more radical.

These jerseys will certainly sell. The short-term revenue boost of all these alternate uniforms is the entire idea.

But I wonder whether there’s a cost to teams diluting their identities. These don’t look like Chicago uniforms. It could become increasingly difficult to value the prestige of NBA jerseys if they’re so loosely associated with a team.

Bucks to wear ‘Cream City’ jerseys (photos)

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The Bucks making cream one of their colors? Great! It was distinctive and local, celebrating the cream-colored bricks throughout Milwaukee.

These uniforms?

Bucks:

Not so great. Everything about the uniforms is fine except the words on the front of the jersey.

I’m sure nobody will crack immature jokes about those.

Reporter: Charles Barkley told me, ‘I don’t hit women, but if I did, I would hit you’

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Charles Barkley has a history of sexist comments.

The crudest publicly came in 1990. Los Angeles Times:

Barkley, who said the remarks were meant as a joke, was quoted as saying after a tough Nov. 3 win over the underdog New Jersey Nets that “this is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids. Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her.”

But since becoming beloved for his outspokenness as a commentator, there have been others – calling the Warriors’ style “little-girly basketball,” mocking the weight of female Spurs fans.

Now, Barkley has again run his mouth in this direction.

Alexi McCammond of Axios:

Turner Sports:

This was obviously inappropriate for Barkley to say. I’m not sure how else to characterize it. It doesn’t sound like a threat. It’s not related to domestic violence. It’s just not the way to speak to someone working professionally.

I’m glad he apologized, and I hope he learned from this. But history suggests he’ll continue to make off-color jokes. In fact, he’s rewarded for repeatedly pushing the line.

That might eventually get him into serious trouble. I don’t think these remarks should be the ones to spark mass outrage.