Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant To Opt Out, Re-Sign With Warriors

Kevin Durant will opt out of his contract with the Warriors this month, but he won’t be going anywhere, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. Haynes reports that Durant will re-sign with the Warriors in July after declining his player option and technically becoming an unrestricted free agent. Both moves – Durant’s opt-out and his new deal with Golden State – had long been expected, but now we have confirmation.Kevin Durant vertical

When Durant first signed with the Warriors last summer, he opted against inking a long-term deal, instead signing a two-year contract that featured a player option in year two. With nine years of NBA experience heading into the 2016/17 season, Durant was one year short of becoming eligible for the higher maximum salary for players with 10+ years of experience. He’ll now be able to sign a deal that starts at 35% of the cap instead of 30%.

[RELATED: NBA Maximum Salary Projections for 2017/18]

However, as Haynes details, it doesn’t appear that Durant will sign a full maximum salary contract this summer. Having controlled Durant for just one season, the Warriors don’t have his full Bird rights, which would allow the team to go over the cap to sign him to a max deal. Instead, Golden State has Durant’s Non-Bird rights, which allow for a 20% raise.

In order to sign Durant to a max contract starting at a projected $35.35MM, the Warriors would need to clear the necessary cap room, which would mean renouncing their Bird rights on other key free agents like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. A 20% raise on Durant’s previous salary would result in a starting rate of about $31.85MM — less than the true max, but more than he would have received by exercising his player option ($27.73MM). Durant’s willingness to accept a 20% raise will also give the Warriors more flexibility to re-sign Iguodala and Livingston.

[RELATED: Andre Iguodala to seriously consider suitors in free agency]

According to Haynes, all signs point to Durant signing another two-year deal with an opt-out after year one. That would allow the 28-year-old to become a free agent again next summer and sign a long-term deal with the Warriors worth the full max. At that point, Golden State would hold Durant’s Early Bird rights — those Early Bird rights won’t allow for a five-year contract, but Durant could get the max for four years without the team having to use cap room.

Durant’s first full season in Golden State was an unequivocal success, as the former MVP was more efficient than ever, making a career-high 53.7% of his shots in 62 regular season games. He added 25.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.8 APG, and 1.6 BPG, and helped buoy the Warriors to a 16-1 playoff run, earning his first championship and the NBA Finals MVP award.

In addition to locking up Durant to a new deal in July, the Warriors are also on track to work out a new agreement with Stephen Curry. Golden State’s other former MVP will be in line for a five-year contract worth a projected $205MM, since he’s eligible for the Designated Veteran Extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Rumors: Free Agents, Iguodala, Livingston

It has been less than four full days since the Warriors won Game 5 of the NBA Finals and captured their second title in three years, but fans and observers are already looking ahead to see how Golden State intends to keep its championship roster together. Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News takes a deep dive into that subject today, breaking down the Warriors’ salary cap options and providing a handful of insider tidbits as well. Let’s round up the highlights…

  • Multiple NBA sources have told Kawakami that it’s all about the Warriors’ Big Four and Andre Iguodala, suggesting that the team won’t break the bank for anyone else on the roster. That includes free-agents-to-be like Zaza Pachulia, David West, Ian Clark, and JaVale McGee.
  • Out of that group of the Warriors’ top five players, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Iguodala are all eligible to become free agents. Kawakami expects Curry to receive a five-year, super-max deal worth upwards of $205MM, while Durant appears willing to accept a 20% raise rather than the full max, allowing the club to stay over the cap to re-sign Iguodala and possibly others.
  • Assuming Durant settles for a 20% raise, look for Iguodala to sign a multiyear deal worth between $8MM and $12MM annually, says Kawakami. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has suggested he expects to re-sign with Golden State and that negotiations are almost done. If another team swoops in with a massive offer, it’s possible Iguodala reconsiders his options, but at that this point, the main question appears to be how many years will be on his new Warriors contract.
  • Shaun Livingston‘s situation is “much more open-ended,” with Kawakami pegging the odds of the point guard’s return as a coin flip. Kawakami speculates that a one- or two-year deal worth $6-7MM per year would be feasible for the Warriors, but Livingston will likely do better than that on the open market.
  • As Kawakami points out, it’s worth keeping an eye on the tax apron, which is projected to be around $127MM for 2017/18. If a team wants to use its full mid-level exception and/or bi-annual exception, it can’t exceed the apron at any point during the league year. If the Warriors go over that number, they’ll be limited to the taxpayer MLE – worth about $5.2MM – and minimum salary contracts for any additional signings.

Warriors Notes: Curry, Durant, Livingston, Kerr

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are willing to be flexible with their contracts to give the Warriors the best shot at repeating, relays Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News. Curry is eligible for a five-year mega max deal this summer worth about $205MM. His contract would start at about $35.5MM next season and climb to roughly $46.7MM in the final year. “As we go into talks and this whole process — which is obviously new for me — I will approach it as getting the most as I can as an individual, as a player, something I’ve been working for for a very long time,” Curry said. “In the context of keeping the team together, if there are decisions that need to be made, we’ll talk about [a slightly smaller deal] for sure.”

Durant would be eligible for the same contract, but because he just signed with the team last summer, the Warriors don’t have his Bird rights. They would have to renounce Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to open enough cap space for Durant. An alternative is a 20% raise from this season, which would bump Durant’s salary to $31.8MM and permit Golden State to go over the cap to keep Iguodala and Livingston. “I feel as though I am going to be back here — no question,” Durant said. “We’ll all figure something out, work something out. I want to be here.”

There’s more news out of Golden State:

  • Past dynasties have demonstrated that not everyone can receive fair market value, writes Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. The toughest decisions this summer will involve Iguodala, Zaza Pachulia and David West, three unrestricted veteran free agents who may be looking at their last chance for big-money contracts.
  • Another of Golden State’s 10 free agents is Livingston, who also prefers to stay with the Warriors, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. Livingston could be looking at a substantial raise after making a combined $16.5MM in his three years with Golden State. “I think we’ll all love to keep this group together and see what we’re able to accomplish together,” Livingston said. “But we’ll see what happens when that time comes. There’s obviously a domino effect. Guys have decisions to make, but it’s about enjoying this journey, this moment that we’re on right now.”
  • Steve Kerr discusses his unusual role in the title run and his future in coaching in a podcast with Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Clark, Pachulia

The path that the Warriors took to emerge from the middle and transform into perennial contenders can be traced back to their ability to develop players, Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post writes.

The Warriors are on the verge of a dynasty, Kosmider says, and attributes it to the fact that the club has stuck with players they drafted and watched them morph into superstars. Well, that and a little bit of luck.

Kosmider mentions Stephen Curry specifically, a player once cast aside as injury prone and the shrewd drafting decisions to add Klay Thompson at No. 11 in 2011 and then Draymond Green at No. 35 in 2012.

  • After failing to catch on with the Jazz four years ago, Ian Clark has carved out a role for himself with the Warriors, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News writes. The reserve is averaging 7.2 points per game as a member of the Dubs’ second unit this season, not bad for somebody who got cut by a team that won 25 games in his rookie season.
  • Recently retired forward Paul Pierce questioned the competitive nature of Kevin Durant, comparing the forward’s decision to join the Warriors to a kid’s decision to join a gang of bullies after getting beaten up. Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic has the details (and video).
  • There’s no denying the rivalry between the Warriors and Cavaliers, even when the conversation shifts to players who only joined the two organizations this season. “Obviously when you play against somebody and it’s the third time in a row and split the seasons and championships, they don’t like each other,” Warriors center Zaza Pachulia told Josh Dubow of the Associated Press.
  • Speaking of Zaza Pachulia, the Warriors big man is the last eligible player that was selected in the 2004 expansion draft, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes.

Kevin Durant Open To Re-Signing For Less Than Max

With an NBA Finals rematch against the Cavaliers set to get underway tonight, the Warriors have more pressing matters on their minds than the coming offseason, but with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and several other rotation players eligible for free agency, Golden State may have some difficult decisions to make. However, according to Ramona Shelburne and Chris Haynes of ESPN.com, Durant is open to the idea of making those decisions a little easier for the Warriors by accepting less than the maximum salary.

Durant, who signed a two-year contract with the Warriors last July, has a player option in year two, meaning he can opt out this summer and sign a new deal. The former MVP is also finishing up his 10th NBA season, which makes him eligible for a substantially higher max salary. As we outlined on Wednesday, the starting max salary for a player with 10+ years of NBA experience is currently projected to be $35.35MM. That’s significantly higher than Durant’s $27.73MM player option.

In order to create the cap room necessary for a new maximum salary contract for Durant though, the Warriors would almost certainly have to renounce their Bird rights to other key free agents like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. Golden State would still be able to give Durant and Curry new long-term maximum salary contracts in that scenario, but would then only have the modest room exception and the minimum salary exception left to add or re-sign players.

On the other hand, if Durant is willing to take less than the max, he could either exercise his player option or turn it down and re-sign a deal based on his Non-Bird rights. Those rights allow for a raise of up to 20%. Since Durant earned about $26.54MM in 2016/17, a 20% raise would take him up to approximately $31.84MM for ’17/18. In that scenario, the Warriors would stay above the cap, allowing them to continue carrying their cap holds for Livingston and Iguodala, retaining those players’ Bird rights and making it much easier to re-sign them.

League sources stressed to Shelburne and Haynes that Durant hasn’t made any final decisions about his contract situation quite yet, but if he’s open to sacrificing about $3.5MM next season, he could give the Warriors much more flexibility to bring back their other free agents. Durant could also sign another short-term deal and potentially opt out to get the bigger max in 2018.

Warriors Notes: Kerr, Brown, Irving, Luxury Tax

Steve Kerr hasn’t decided if he will try to coach the Warriors during the NBA Finals, according to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News. Kerr’s physical condition has improved since he took a leave of absence from the team midway through the first round of the playoffs. He was able to run practice Monday and Tuesday and handled the coach’s media session Monday. However, he is still well short of being 100% and is being cautious about returning to the team in such an important situation.

There’s more Warriors news on the eve of the NBA Finals:

  • Kerr states in the same interview that he definitely plans to coach again next season. He remains optimistic about his long-term physical condition and has no plans to step aside. “You know, it’s a little trickier, since this has been going on,” Kerr explained. “I sort of assumed all last year that by the summer I’d get this thing knocked out. It’s been kind of a mystery and that’s what so frustrating. But I have every intention to coach for a long time. It’s scary stuff and still hoping for a better resolution to it.”
  • Interim coach Mike Brown doesn’t view this series as a shot at revenge, even though the Cavaliers fired him twice, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Brown served as head coach in Cleveland for five seasons before being let go in 2010. He was rehired in 2013, but was fired again after just one season, reportedly with $12MM in guaranteed money left on his contract. Despite his history, Brown said he has no ill feelings toward owner Dan Gilbert or the city of Cleveland. “My son goes to school back there, I still have a house back there, I have fond memories back there,” Brown said at today’s “media day” at Oracle Arena. “And went back there a second time with a good buddy of mine, [former Cavs GM] Chris Grant, and saw them put this plan into motion that is going on now.”
  • Kyrie Irving regrets the rocky relationship he had with Brown when they were together for his rookie season, relays Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Irving called it a “learning experience,” as things got so bad that Brown recommended that the front office try to trade Irving. “I understand that things happen in this league sometimes, whether controlled or uncontrolled,” Irving said. “I was a 21-year-old kid, just trying to lead a franchise, and he was a new head coach that I had to get introduced to a new offense, new players, as well as new system.”
  • Once Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are re-signed this summer, the Warriors will be headed for uncharted territory in their salary and luxury tax bills, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Golden State could wind up paying more in tax penalties than salary for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, and the total could be more than $600MM over the two years.

Pacific Notes: J. Jackson, Isaac, Tatum, Thompson

The Suns potentially have a difficult decision to make when they find themselves on the clock with the fourth overall pick, writes Doug Haller of AZCentral Sports. Three talented freshman small forwards could be available: Josh Jackson, Jonathan Isaac, and Jayson Tatum. Defense and three-point shooting are likely the Suns’ two most glaring weaknesses, and one of these athletes could certainly help.

Haller writes that Jackson’s real impact could come defensively. The scribe adds that, while Tatum is nowhere near the defender that Jackson is, the Duke freshman may be the most polished scorer in the draft. As for Isaac, he can play both forward positions, with many believing that he will also be able to man the center position when his body fills out. Furthermore, the departing Seminole would contribute defensive versatility, having defended all over the floor for Florida State.

Here are some more pertinent notes from the Pacific division:

Cavaliers Notes: James, Durant, Lue, Blatt

Kevin Durant, much like any other young player, sought out LeBron James for advice in the early part of his career. Now, both men will now face each for a second time in the NBA Finals starting next week when the Cavaliers and Warriors begin their series. Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes that James is fully prepared to take on Durant and company.

Recalling his past days and workouts with Durant, James understands that the former NBA Most Valuable Player is one of the elite talents in the game.

“I think it reaches a point where that guy thinks he’s good enough where he doesn’t want to talk to me,” James said to reporters, including Ridneour after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts on Saturday. “I always have an open-door policy. When those guys get comfortable and they feel like they got enough of the blueprint, they’re like, ‘OK, I got enough, I’m done with you.’ ”

Durant made headlines this past offseason when he departed Oklahoma City to create a super team in Golden State. Durant joined Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, forming a foursome of talent that is four wins away from capturing a championship.

“He’s one of the most dangerous guys we have in the world already,” James said. “So it makes it even more dangerous when you equip that talent, that skill, with those guys.”

The series kicks off on Thursday evening in Oakland as the Warriors host the Cavaliers for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

  • The Cavaliers are also just four wins away from a title, which would mean back-to-back championships for Cleveland. George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal writes that coach Tyronn Lue‘s demeanor has helped the team in its chase for gold.“I just think it’s just his level of calmness no matter what’s going on,” James said. “He always talks about, at the end of the day, he’s already won in life so whatever else happens after this is extra credit.”
  • Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt has  reportedly left his role as head coach of Darussafaka Dogus in Turkey but is drawing interest from other EuroLeague teams, according to Sportando. Maccabi Tel Aviv — where Blatt has already coached — and Barcelona were reportedly in Istanbul to discuss their coaching vacancies. Blatt led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2014/15 but was fired midway through last season in favor of Lue.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Simon, Abdul-Jabbar, Durant

The Clippers view San Antonio as a serious threat to sign Chris Paul this summer, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. “Mutual interest” between Paul and the Spurs was suggested earlier this week by ESPN’s Zach Lowe, and L.A. officials see that as a concern despite San Antonio’s lack of cap space. Paul is expected to use an early-termination option and hit the free agent market. He is eligible for a five-year deal worth about $205MM from the Clippers and four years at roughly $152MM from anyone else. The Spurs only have about $10MM in cap room right now, with Dewayne Dedmon ($3MM) and David Lee ($1.6MM) both owning player options.

There’s more today from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers are finalizing a deal to add Miles Simon to their coaching staff, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. He will replace Theo Robertson, who left this week to become an assistant at the University of California. The Most Outstanding Player in the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Simon played just five NBA games, all with Orlando. He spent three years as an assistant coach at Arizona and is currently a college basketball analyst for ESPN.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may be the next Lakers legend to get a role with the team, according to Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Abdul-Jabbar says he has been invited to meet with president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and controlling owner Jeanie Buss to discuss a position in the organization. He added that he would like to serve as a mentor to second-year center Ivica Zubac and help him develop his hook shot. “He’s equipped to use it well,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He has the length to begin with. If he can develop his shooting touch and agility, he’ll use it well.”
  • As the NBA Finals approach, Warriors star Kevin Durant is “at peace” with his decision to leave Oklahoma City, relays Sam Amick of USA Today. He bristles at suggestions that his move is behind the lack of parity in the NBA. “Like I’m the reason why Orlando couldn’t make the playoffs for five, six years in a row?” he said. “Am I the reason that Brooklyn gave all their picks to Boston? Like, am I the reason that they’re not that good. I can’t play for every team, so the truth of the matter is I left one team. It’s one more team that you probably would’ve thought would’ve been a contender. One more team. I couldn’t have made the (entire) East better. I couldn’t have made everybody [else] in the West better.”

Durant Talks Decision To Join Warriors, Future With Team

Kevin Durant recently spoke with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated to discuss his decision to join the Warriors and his future with the team. Here are the highlights from the piece:

On whether or not he has any regrets about leaving the Thunder:

I made the 100 percent correct decision, win or lose. I feel like this is the place I was supposed to be. I appreciate everything I’ve done before this. But I’m here now, and I feel like it’s a great spot for me to be. This is where I am supposed to be at this point of my life. I’m taking it on and conquering every part of it. I’m enjoying every single step.

On where he’ll be playing next season (He can become a free agent this summer by turning down the player option in his contract):

I love it here. I love my teammates. I love the city [of Oakland]. I love the organization. I love it here. I don’t plan on going anywhere else

On the criticism he received for making the decision to join the Warriors:

I try to play the right way and handle myself the right way. I am just confused as to why that stuff doesn’t matter more than what happens on Twitter or whatever the topic of discussion is each day. I think it takes away from what is most important: that ball and that basket, everything in between the lines. I don’t expect anyone who has never been there before to understand that.

On whether or not the criticism will ever stop:

Somebody is always going to disagree. Somebody is always going to discredit. It’s just a part of life. When you want to do it for each other and for friends and family, that’s when it’s purer than anything.

On the best thing about playing for the Warriors:

You have people here who realize that the most important thing is it’s a game. You have fun. But you also should be passionate and dedicated. That is what everybody’s vision is.

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