For a third straight offseason, Kevin Durant is poised to reach the free agent market. According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Durant will decline his 2018/19 player option and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
However, as was the case a year ago, Durant won’t entertain the possibility of leaving Golden State in free agency. Instead, the reigning NBA Finals MVP will opt out in order to sign a new contract with the Warriors, Haynes reports.
After taking a discount in 2017 to help the Warriors re-sign Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala without going deeper into luxury tax territory, Durant is poised to receive a raise this time around. In turning down his $26.25MM player option, the star forward will be eligible to receive a starting salary of up to 35% of the salary cap. Currently, the cap is projected to be $101MM, which would result in a 2018/19 salary of $35.35MM for Durant — he could sign for up to four years.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes, if Durant wants to continue his streak of signing a two-year deal with a second-year player option, his maximum salary would be limited to $30MM, 120% of his current salary. In that scenario, the Warriors would have to use Non-Bird rights rather than Early Bird rights to re-sign Durant, since Early Bird deals must cover at least two seasons, not including option years.
According to Haynes, Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman will go over the possible contract scenarios and make a decision with the Warriors’ front office when the team’s playoff run ends. Even if Durant “settles” for a $30MM starting salary, Golden State projects to be way over the tax line again in 2018/19.
Adding a $30MM cap hit for Durant to the salaries for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Iguodala, and Livingston would put the Dubs’ total team salary over $128MM, and that figure doesn’t include guaranteed minimum salaries for Damian Jones, Jordan Bell, and Quinn Cook. The Warriors would also have to add at least five more players to their roster in order to reach the 14-man minimum.