With NBA free agency set to begin just after midnight on July 1st, a deal appears imminent between Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. According to both ESPN’s Chris Haynes and the New York Times’ Marc Stein, Durant has let the Warriors and GM Bob Myers know what kind of contract he wants from the team.
Kevin Durant intends to sign a two-year max deal with a player option to stay with Golden State, league sources tell ESPN.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 1, 2018
Kevin Durant plans to tell the Warriors after 12:01 a.m. ET that he wants a new one-year contract with a player option for 2019-20 to return to free agency next summer, @NYTSports has learned— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 1, 2018
Given that Myers said Durant will get “whatever he wants,” it seems a certainty that this will be the deal the two sides agree to when the free agency period begins.
Durant’s new contract will have him earning a salary of $30 million and allows him to opt out after the 2018-19 season. This deal, rather than pursuing one for two years with an option on the third year, saves the Warriors around $5.4 million, something very important for a team with such a high payroll.
As The Athletic’s Anthony Slater tweeted before news of this deal had come out, Durant signing this 1+1 deal would give the Warriors more financial flexibility when it came to adding to their roster, particularly through the mid-level exception.
Something of note 12 hours before free agency: If KD takes another 1+1 deal (rumblings are it's heading that way), it would save the Warriors a ton in tax money. Salary next year would be $30mil instead of max of around $35.4mil. That would increase likelihood Warriors use MLE.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 30, 2018
Saving that money against the luxury tax means the Warriors can be even more active in free agency, as they attempt to add depth and youth to the team.
But once the news of Durant’s contract demands came out, Slater tweeted about one (potentially) negative aspect of this kind of deal.
The 1+1 that saves the Warriors a ton of tax money this year— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) July 1, 2018
puts another year of 'will he, won't he' KD speculation over the Warriors as he heads to free agency again next summer, this time with Klay Thompson https://t.co/5SElWKDNl7
Much like this past season, Durant having the 1+1 contract will lead to people speculating that he will leave in the 2019 offseason and trying to find (or manufacture) cracks and divides in the Warriors’ locker room that would cause Durant to leave.
However, Durant’s decision to pursue this kind of contract might also be setting up a longer-term team next season for the back-to-back Finals MVP.
A 1+1 deal saves the Warriors money (and lots of tax) for the 2018-19 season and lines Durant up for a five-year max contract if both sides want it in 2019 https://t.co/ySLn9Y4fVB— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) July 1, 2018
Next season, the Warriors will have Durant’s full Bird Rights and thus be able to sign him to a five-year contract next seasons at a much higher starting salary.
But all of that is well in the future for the defending champs. Right now, the only news is good news as the reigning Finals MVP has made it clear he’s going to return to the Warriors and is willing to leave some money on the table to help the team improve for their title defense in the 2018-19 season.