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Woj on Durant: “Opting in is the last resort”

A devastating injury is unlikely to impact the money that Durant makes this offseason.

2019 NBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In the aftermath of Kevin Durant’s gut-wrenching Achilles injury, it feels weird to talk about his contract status. But that’s been the discussion all year around Durant and the Golden State Warriors, and free agency tips off at the end of the month. It has to be talked about.

All season it was a given that Durant would opt out of the one-plus-one contract that he signed in the summer of 2018, so that he could sign a max contract somewhere. Yet when he sustained an injury that will sideline him for most, if not all of the 2019-20 season, many wondered whether he would opt into the one-year, $31.5 million contract instead, and hit free agency next summer.

That doesn’t seem likely, according to NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, who appeared on ESPN’s “Get Up” to discuss the looming offseason for the former MVP.

“He still has until June 29 to make a decision,” Wojnarowski explained. “I think opting in is the last resort - $31.5 million for next season. That’s really if you couldn’t find any other team to commit to you on a contract. Because if he opts out of the contract, and even if he did a short deal with another team - a two-year deal - that starts at $38 million. I still think there’s a market for Kevin Durant to get a long term - whether it’s max or near-max - contract.

“He’ll be 32 before he plays again, if indeed he misses all of next season. That ($31.5 million) opt in is really if there’s nothing out there after canvassing the league, or if the Warriors decided that they didn’t want to do that. I’d be shocked if the Warriors were not willing to still go long term with Kevin Durant on a deal. But essentially he’d be a $38 million redshirt player for whoever he signs with next year.”

None of this is particularly surprising. The bulk of the teams interested in Durant’s services prior to the injury should still be interested at a similar price point. The Warriors should still offer the max, for the right to keep Durant around. And teams like the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks - who aren’t going to compete in the coming season - should happily pay for a redshirt year if it means having a superstar in 2020 and beyond.

So we return to the waiting game.