Under normal circumstances, having a player of Kevin Durant’s caliber opt out of the final year of his contract would be concerning - even more so if that player then came out publicly to say that they would not re-sign until closer towards the end of free agency. But this is the new era of the Golden State Warriors franchise. And Kevin Durant made these moves with a fairly hefty financial concession in mind. Now we are getting a look at how deadly serious he was about this:
ESPN Sources: Kevin Durant will agree to re-sign with Golden State on a two-year, approximately $53 million deal, league sources tell ESPN.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 3, 2017
As initially rumored a long time ago, Durant took a discount in order to facilitate the signing of other key Warriors reserves Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. If you were wondering earlier in the week how on Earth the Warriors were able to just bring back all the key players, look no further than this:
Kevin Durant's Warriors contract expected to be $25 million, I’m told, with player option for 2017-18. Max was $34.5 mil. Major sacrifice.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 3, 2017
Ignore the typo there (the player option is obviously for the 2018-19 season. Instead, focus on the scale of this discount. As Marcus Thompson wrote just hours before this news broke, the discount is a strong symbol to both his teammates and ownership.
The Warriors are on pace to be more than $20 million over the luxury tax, which puts their penalty at $3.75 per dollar spent — and it increases 50 cents ever $5 million they exceed $20 million.
Durant taking less could drop the Warriors to a lower penalty, saving the ownership millions while keeping the band together.
This is pretty unprecedented. Outside of ring-chasing vet minimum guys, and maybe Tim Duncan, I can’t recall any player ever leaving this much money on the table for a single-year contract. In fact, this is actually a slight paycut as compared to last season!
Kevin Durant's $25 million salary is $9.5 million less than his max, $6.8 less than expected and $1.54 million less than he made last year.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) July 3, 2017
But it doesn’t end there. Apparently Durant was willing to take an even deeper discount if we lost out on Andre Iguodala:
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.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 3, 2017
This is BIG news folks!! We already knew that the Warriors were “keeping the band together” but the way this all went down is indicative of a very happy player working with a team that he is satisfied with in order to field the best team possible.
As Kim Stubbe said in our mod Slack chat, there are some systemic indications that Lacob’s ownership group knows the importance of not cutting corners on your way to historic greatness.
kstub [3:25 PM]
Lacob may have many typical rich man flaws but at least he understands that to keep quality personnel, you can't sit on money as the profit balloons. You got to pay up and fill everyone's coffers; otherwise you look like a couple other Bay teams: the Niners and the A's.
Welcome back KD, we are all very much aware, and appreciative of your sacrifice!
I’m sure more details will emerge, but for now, let’s party!