Kevin Durant

Myers: Warriors Will Give Durant ‘Whatever He Wants’ On New Deal

Kevin Durant indicated several days ago that he fully intends to re-sign with the Warriors after opting out of his contract this summer, and it doesn’t sound like president of basketball operations Bob Myers will draw any sort of hard line in negotiations. As Janie McCauley of The Associated Press relays, Myers said the team is prepared to give Durant “whatever he wants.”

“Sometimes you don’t negotiate. I’d love to have him for 10 years. Kevin Durant, look what he did for us last year, he did us a great service,” Myers said. “He’s earned the right to sign whatever deal he wants. I just want him to sign a deal. But want him to be happy and want him to know that we want him as long as he wants to be here. He’s earned that, to kind of lay out the terms. He can do whatever he wants. That shouldn’t be a long negotiation.”

In each of the last two summers, Durant has signed a two-year contract with a second-year player option in order to maximize his flexibility. However, the Early Bird exception prohibits that sort of deal. If the Warriors re-sign the star forward using his Early Bird rights, the contract would have to be for at least two years (with no options) and couldn’t exceed four years.

Durant could still sign a one-year pact with an eye toward hitting free agency again in 2019, when he’ll have full Bird rights and could sign a five-year contract. But a one-year deal this year would use the Non-Bird exception and wouldn’t allow him to earn his full max, since he accepted a discount last summer. As such, Durant will have some decisions to make this offseason, and it sounds like the Warriors are ready to accommodate whatever path he chooses.

Meanwhile, the Warriors have a few other extension candidates to keep an eye on this summer, including Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and head coach Steve Kerr. For his part, Kerr said he expects to get a new agreement “done pretty quick,” suggesting that wouldn’t be an acrimonious negotiation either. As for Thompson and Green, Myers agreed with team owner Joe Lacob that the team will explore new deals for those stars this offseason, but suggested that won’t necessarily be a top priority.

“It’s a lot of different conversations that have to take place and if that’s something that we want to look into, I’m sure we could have those (conversations),” Myers said. “Klay’s got another year, Draymond’s got two more. Kevin’s really the free agent we have to focus on.”

Durant Says He Could Envision Retiring At 35

While veterans like Vince Carter, Manu Ginobili, and Jason Terry continue their NBA careers into their 40s, Kevin Durant doesn’t sound like he’s planning to play quite that long. Speaking to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Durant said that he can envision himself deciding to retire at age 35.

“This game, your craft, you have to continue studying it,” Durant said. “No matter how much you enjoy it, nobody wants to be in school that long. I know I don’t. At some point, you have to be ready to graduate. Thirty-five, that’s just a number in my mind.”

Durant, who will turn 30 in September, just won his second consecutive NBA Finals MVP and has established himself as one of the top two or three players in the league. While his raw scoring numbers have dipped a little since he arrived in Golden State, Durant has been more efficient than ever with the Warriors, with a shooting line of .525/.400/.882, and has evolved into an excellent defender.

Given Durant’s dominance, it’s hard to imagine he’d opt for retirement in just five or six years. Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman tells Haynes that the former MVP has talked to him in the past about potentially retiring at age 35, but Kleiman is skeptical.

“I heard him say that, but I’ll believe it when it happens,” Kleiman said.

When Durant does eventually move into the next stage of his career, he’s expected to remain involved in basketball. The star forward has previously talked about his desire to own an NBA team, but admits to Haynes that his post-playing career could take a different direction.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Durant said. “That’s the beauty. I’d hate to say, ‘Man, I don’t want to do this, do that’ when I’m done playing. I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m going to still be in love with the game and want to be around it every day. Who knows? I might want to be a coach or a GM or an owner or somebody that works guys out or somebody that’s trying to tell basketball stories like Kobe [Bryant]. Who knows?

“I feel like I have options,” Durant continued. “I’m young, I’m still learning life and about basketball. I have a whole life ahead of me that I’m excited about, and I thank basketball for opening up so many doors for me.”

And-Ones: Superteams, Cook, Williams

With the 2018 NBA Finals now officially wrapped, the offseason has begun. Now, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report writes, players and teams around the league will waste no time scraping away for ways to conquer one of the sport’s greatest rosters. One of those options? Find a way to form an even more powerful superteam.

Berger writes about the rise of the modern superteam era, one that he says traces back over a decade to when the Celtics brought All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen aboard to team up with Paul Pierce and win a title. A feeling of futility matched up against those Hall of Famers, Cavaliers forward LeBron James says, contributed to his decision to in turn team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with the Heat.

More recently, it was what Berger calls a flaw in the salary cap system that allowed the Warriors to add Kevin Durant mere months after setting the all-time record for regular season wins. A boost in broadcasting revenue after the 2011 lockout precipitated a massive spike in the salary cap.

At the time, Berger writes, league commissioner Adam Silver pushed to spread the increase out over several seasons but the player’s union fought to keep the increase in one lump sum. The result? A $24MM salary cap increase that allowed the Warriors to sign a fourth superstar without giving up any major roster pieces.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Former Heat swingman Daequan Cook has signed an extension to return to Ironi Ness Ziona in Israel, international basketball reporter David Pick tweets. Cook last saw NBA action in 2012/13.
  • Though it’s only been seven years since he was drafted with the No. 2 pick, Derrick Williams has seen the NBA landscape around him do an about-face with regard to how it values the hybridization of player positions. Keith Langlois of Detroit’s official team site writes about how the journeyman forward auditioning for the Pistons is hoping that being a “tweener” can help him land another gig in the league.
  • Legendary hoops analyst Hubie Brown suffered a knee injury prior to Game 4 of the NBA Finals and wasn’t able to broadcast over the radio, an ESPN report says. There’s no indication that the 84-year-old’s injury was self-inflicted after letting his emotions get the best of him.

Warriors Plan Extension Offers For Thompson, Green

There have been concerns about the Warriors’ ability to afford Klay Thompson and Draymond Green when their free agency years arrive, but owner Joe Lacob plans to aggressively address the situation this summer, relays Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Shortly after wrapping up the team’s third title in four years Friday night, Lacob said he intends to submit extension offers to both players during the offseason.

“All good things cost a lot,” he explained. “We’re going to try to sign Klay and Draymond to extensions this summer. They’ve earned the right to do whatever they want; maybe they want to wait until free agency. I can’t control that. But we’ll do whatever we can to keep them.

“We’ve proven that if we think we’re competing for a championship, we’ll be in the luxury tax. No one wants to be, but we expect to be. All I can tell you is we’re going to sit down and do our planning on how we’re going to improve the team for the future and setting ourselves up in the future. And it could go a number of different ways.”

Thompson is entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $18,988,725 next season. He has spent seven years with the Warriors and is coming off his fourth straight All-Star appearance. Green has two seasons left on his current deal, worth $17,469,565 next season and $18,539,130 in 2019/20. He has been with Golden State for six years and is a three-time All-Star.

Extensions for Thompson and Green would come at the same time the Warriors have to spend big to re-sign Kevin Durant, who is virtually certain to opt out of a $26.25MM salary and enter free agency for the third straight summer. If all three players agree to new contracts, the Warriors would likely be headed for the largest luxury tax bill in NBA history.

NBA Finals Roundup: James, Lue, Durant, Curry, West, Young

With the season now over, the focus turns to LeBron James and his pending free agency decision. James can opt out of the final year of his contract and hit unrestricted free agency for the third time. He has until June 29 to make a decision.

Following the Cavaliers‘ loss to the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, which completed a sweep of Cleveland, James discussed his pending decision, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes. While James has not made up his mind, he said input from his family will be a major factor this summer.

“The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family,” James said. “Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I’ve got a teenage boy, a preteen and a little girl that wasn’t around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that. So I don’t have an answer for you right now as far as that.”

James has left Cleveland once before, signing a deal in 2010 with the Heat, where he won two championships in four seasons. The 33-year-old returned to the Cavaliers prior to the 2014/15 season, leading the organization to a championship the following year.

Check out more news to come out of the NBA Finals below:

  • As we relayed earlier, James suffered a self-inflicted injury to his right hand after he punched a whiteboard out of frustration following the Cavaliers’ loss in Game 1.
  • After battling some health issues throughout the season, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue intends to return next year, Joe Vardon of writes. “Yeah, I do,” Lue said of his intentions. “I had some tough problems going on throughout the course of the season, and … I probably could have folded myself, but I wasn’t going to do that.” Lue previously told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that was treated for anxiety this season.
  • Kevin Durant became the 11th player to win two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards, per The Associated Press. With back-to-back championships and Finals MVPs to his credit, Durant’s focus will now turn to his contract situation. He intends to remain with the Warriors, but will likely sign a new deal.
  • Stephen Curry has two regular season MVPs to his credit but Durant has taken home that honor the last two NBA Finals. However, Curry prioritizes the team success over his individual accolades, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “K.D.’s been amazing these last two years, especially in The Finals, and so deserving of back-to-back Finals MVPs,” Curry said. “I’m going to be his biggest fan in there with what he’s able to do. I think the biggest thing we appreciate in the locker room is, again, what everybody brings to the table and we kind of unlock the greatness out of each other.”
  • One of the most visibly excited players to win his first championship was the Warriors’ Nick Young, per Alysha Tsuji of USA TODAY. ‘Swaggy P’ only played 38 combined minutes in the NBA Finals but he helped the team off the bench during the regular season. “I went from getting snitched on to putting a ring on!” Young told reporters.
  • Warriors veteran David West said the team’s championship victory is even more remarkable given various behind-the-scenes issues the public is not aware of, tweets The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears. “Y’all got no clue. No clue. That tells you about this team that nothing came out,” West said.
  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has now coached the club to three championships in four seasons. We noted earlier that Warriors ownership believes Kerr will sign an extension with the team this summer.

Durant: “I’m Planning On Staying With The Warriors”

The NBA’s two best players can reach the open market in less than a month, but while LeBron James‘ future remains up in the air, it appears Kevin Durant‘s free agency will be merely a formality. Speaking to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (video link), the All-NBA forward confirmed that he doesn’t intend to change teams this summer.

“I’m planning on staying with the Warriors,” Durant said. “We’ll figure the rest out.”

As Durant alludes to – and as Nichols notes – he and the Warriors figure to negotiate a new contract, since he’s unlikely to exercise his player option. With Durant’s Early Bird rights in hand, Golden State will be able to offer up to four years, not to mention a sizable raise. Still, the 2017 Finals MVP doesn’t sound concerned about working out those details.

Long considered likely to opt out and re-sign with Golden State, Durant opened that door a crack in a recent conversation with Sam Amick of USA Today. Speaking to Amick, Durant said he planned on sticking with the Warriors, but cautioned that “anything can happen” in the NBA. Based on his latest comments though, it sounds as if the 29-year-old has made up his mind, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Dubs won’t welcome him back, no matter the price.

With Durant’s return a virtual lock, it will simply come down to how he and the Warriors structure his next deal. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) details in his preview of Golden State’s offseason, there are three realistic scenarios: a one-year deal, a three-year deal with a player option on the third year, or a four-year deal, which could be worth a projected $158MM+.

Kevin Durant Talks Future, LeBron, Warriors’ Moves

It has long been reported that Kevin Durant will opt out of his contract with the Warriors this offseason in order to sign a few deal with the team. That looks like more of a lock than ever after Durant’s dominant showing in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but before Wednesday’s game, Sam Amick of USA Today spoke to the star forward to clarify his stance.

After all, as Amick noted, Durant spoke after Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals about how “anything” could happen this summer for both the Rockets and the Warriors. Did that mean that Durant himself was having any second thoughts about his future plans? Here’s the answer from the reigning Finals MVP, along with a few more comments of note:

On whether he’s definitely returning to the Warriors next season:

“I feel as though (I am). Everything, the money and stuff that’s got to, the contract got to (be) worked out, but I plan on being here. I said that earlier this year. I didn’t plan on anything else, but this is the NBA, and anything can happen. And I know that anything can happen (because) I’ve been a part of this league for so long now.”

On the idea that LeBron James might take a meeting with the Warriors this summer:
(Note: This was reported earlier in the year and recently reiterated by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.)

“With the Warriors? I have no clue. I mean everybody can speculate. This guy over here who works for ESPN, I’m sure he’s got a theory. I just don’t believe it. I don’t believe anything in this NBA thing until I see it.

“… But how I’d feel if we would get a meeting with LeBron James? I mean, that’s not – I’ve been trying to separate myself from the front office and those decision makers for a long time, so that’s not on me to do it.”

On leaving roster decisions up to GM Bob Myers:

“I wouldn’t be storming into his office saying, ‘We need to go sit down with this guy,’ or ‘No, we don’t need (that guy).’ Like, that’s not my place. My place is to go play ball, and be the best teammate and player. That’s my only job. Everything else I leave up to Bob, because he’s getting paid a lot of money to make those decisions.”

On whether the Warriors’ offseason approach would’ve looked significantly different if they’d lost to Houston:

“My mindset wouldn’t have changed. My approach wouldn’t have changed. I don’t know anything about what the organization would’ve done, because that’s not my field, but my approach to the game and the way I would’ve came into the offseason and the regular season next year, it wouldn’t have changed. It would’ve been the same approach, just see if we could do it again.”

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2017/18 season, with James Harden and LeBron James leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The voting results will have major financial implications for the three All-NBA centers, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Davis is now eligible for a supermax extension from the Pelicans next summer. Davis will be eligible to sign that deal, which projects to be worth $230MM, as of July 1, 2019.

As for Embiid, missing out on a First Team nod means his maximum-salary contract will remain at 25% of the cap rather than being bumped up to 30%. That means he’ll miss out on approximately $29MM over the next five years, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports details.

Towns, meanwhile, will be eligible for an extension worth 30% of the cap this summer, Marks tweets. An extension of that sort, which would make the cap outlook in Minnesota very interesting, would go into effect for the 2019/20 season.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Harden and James scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

First Team

  • Guard: James Harden, Rockets (500)
  • Guard: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (432)
  • Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers (500)
  • Forward: Kevin Durant, Warriors (426)
  • Center: Anthony Davis, Pelicans (492)

Second Team

Third Team

Among those results, the tightest race saw DeRozan edge Curry by a single point for a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. Both players received two First Team votes and 39 Second Team votes, with DeRozan grabbing one extra Third Team vote (38 to 37) to bump him up to the Second Team ahead of Curry.

As for the players who didn’t quite make the cut, Rockets point guard Chris Paul (54 points), Jazz center Rudy Gobert (51), Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (42), and Sixers guard/forward Ben Simmons (36) received the most support.

Al Horford (Celtics), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Clint Capela (Rockets), Draymond Green (Warriors), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Steven Adams (Thunder), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Trevor Ariza (Rockets), DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), Dwight Howard (Hornets), Kevin Love (Cavaliers), and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) also each received at least one All-NBA vote.

Warriors Notes: Durant, Looney, Kerr, Green

As Kevin Durant continues his quest to win a second consecutive NBA Championship during the Western Conference Finals, Darren Rovell of ESPN takes an interesting look into how Durant is using his new home in the Bay Area as a means to grow his financial portfolio.

Durant has invested in Nike, Alaska Airlines and American Family Insurance, among other businesses, while his own media company, Thirty Five Media, is producing original content such as Swagger, which was recently sold to Apple, and two other projects that are currently in development with major TV networks.

Rovell also touched Durant’s endorsement battle between Nike and Under Armour during the summer of 2014 when Durant ultimately signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with Nike. Said Durant:

“I knew I had a supreme skill that needed to be compensated for, and I knew I played my way into having these negotiations. But I didn’t want to start over at Under Armour or Adidas. I knew where I wanted to be, and $300 million was more than enough.”

Finally, Durant spoke about his interest in potentially owning an NBA franchise someday, if possible.

“I wish I had the money. It’s crazy. Obviously, the financial part is definitely going to be the hardest part. (But) I would love to (own a team). All the aspects of owning a team, I would love to be involved in — from the financial and marketing side to the team-building to the camaraderie to the coaching.”

There’s more out of Oakland:

  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post says that while the Warriors have four of the top 20 players in the NBA on their roster, the lack of a reliable supporting cast is threatening to derail the team’s run to a third championship in four seasons. Bontemps specifically mentions the signings of Nick Young and Omri Casspi as “spectacular failures.”
  • Head coach Steve Kerr has won the Professional Basketball Writes Associations’ 2017/18 Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors the NBA coach who, in addition to exuding excellence on the bench, best cooperates with media and fans, reports Marc J. Spears of ESPN.
  • As we’ve noted before, it’s looking more and more likely that Kevon Looney will be playing basketball somewhere other than Oakland next year as he continues to impress during this year’s playoffs. After the team’s Game 3 win, Kerr specifically remarked on Looney’s ability as a big man to switch out onto talented playmakers such as Chris Paul and James Harden, reports Logan Murdock of the Bay Area News Group.

Owners, Players Among Those Who Built The Bridge Between Kevin Durant And Golden State

Peak Stephen Curry came to play during Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. The two-time MVP hit all seven of his shots from the field during a third quarter that essentially put the game out of reach.

He finished with a game-high 35 points, delivering a series of highlights for the home crowd and silencing the doubters who dubbed him as a liability.

Curry’s game came on the heels of two top performances by Kevin Durant where the former No. 2 overall pick scored 37 and 38 points in Game 1 and 2, respectively. Durant didn’t disappoint in Game 3, scoring 25 points, a total that nearly doubled every player in the game with the exception of Curry and James Harden.

Many were outraged when Durant elected to join Golden State during the summer of 2016, citing an unnatural balance in the basketball realm. However, it was an outcome made possible by a collection of events. Let’s examine how No. 35 was able to make his way to Northern California.

The Max Contract

The year is 1997 and Kevin Garnett is the league’s next bright, young star. At 22-years-old, his rookie contract is approaching its end and he signs a six-year, $126MM contract with Wolves during the 1997/98 season. It’s the biggest contract in the history of the league and NBA owners are fearful of what doling out those kinds of deals could mean for the future of their franchises.

The angst was partially to blame for the lockout during the 1998/99 season and the maximum salary deal was born as a result of heavy negotiations between owners and players. The new structure put a ceiling on what players could earn.

Imagine a world where there is no max salary and top players can earn what the market dictates. Someone like Durant could theoretically command 50% of the salary cap, maybe more. Instead, with the max deal limiting players’ earnings, shunning the most lucrative offer in favor of one with a better on-court situation becomes less of a sacrifice and teaming up with other superstars becomes more appealing.

The latest CBA gave teams a great tool in the Designated Players Extension, a deal designed to give organizations an unquestioned financial advantage in retaining their own players. This vehicle wasn’t yet available when Oklahoma City fought to keep Durant and some believe the new extension option came as a result of his departure.

Curry’s At-The-Time Below Market Deal

The Warriors signed the former No. 7 overall pick to a $44MM extension back in 2012 and he had one season left on that contract when Durant hit free agency in 2016. Curry had just come off back-to-back MVP seasons, one in which he was the only player in the history of the league to unanimously win the MVP award. Had there not been concern over Curry’s ankle, perhaps he signs a rookie extension similar to James Harden‘s $80MM deal back in 2012 and four years later, the Warriors might have needed to make real sacrifices in order to bring Durant in, assuming he comes at all under a new, slightly less favorable arrangement.

The NBA’s Salary Cap Spike

Another factor was the league’s massive media rights deal that caused a cap spike like we’ve never seen before. The 2016/17 salary cap increased by over $24MM from the 2015/16 figures. Prior to that spike, the year-to-year change never surpassed $8MM.

Leading up to the summer of 2016, the NBA and the NBA Players Association discussed a cap-smoothing proposal, as the owners foresaw some issues with the gargantuan spike. The 2016 free agent class would be the overwhelming beneficiaries from the media rights deal under the CBA’s framework and the NBA wanted to make an adjustment to the legal-binding agreement. The proposed plan would artificially lower the salary cap and the difference between the actual increase in basketball-related income and the proposed, lowered artificial salary cap would be evenly distributed to all the players in the league.

The altered agreement would have meant a much lower salary cap for teams heading into the 2016 offseason while providing the players with the same 51% of the revenue they were entitled to as part of the 2011 CBA. However, the NBA Player’s Union rejected the deal. (Fun fact: Chris Paul, a man who’s now trying to bringing down Golden State’s powerhouse, was the President of the NBPA at the time and remains in the position today).

July 2016 came without a solution for the spike and teams couldn’t spend the money fast enough. Over $2 billion worth of contracts were handed out in the first 48 hours of free agency. At the time, FiveThirtyEight estimated that the average contract in 2016 was overvalued by $4,4MM per year. Two years later with players like Timofey Mozgov ($16MM/year) and Joakim Noah ($18MM/year) getting paid handsomely, it’s arguable that the statistical publication was conservative on its estimates.

No one’s arguing that the Warriors mismanaged their financials by signing Durant to the two-year pact worth roughly $53MM. Golden State is nearly unstoppable when Durant and Curry are both on their games and the team has gone 26-4 in the postseason since Durant brought his talents to the bay area.

Durant’s signing will forever be known as a move that altered the league, one that was made possible by a perfect storm. You’ll hear criticism and complaint from many parties, but it was a group effort that built the bridge allowing Durant to waltz over to Golden State. In addition to the Warriors, the league’s owners and players are among those responsible for his ability to take that path.

Photos Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports Images