It was the Fourth of July last year when Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, a move that drastically altered the NBA’s landscape, as evidenced by Golden State’s relatively easy run to a second championship in three years.
Now, almost exactly a year later, reports have him re-signing with the Warriors, and doing so in a fashion that might ensure the team’s dominance continues for years to come. That’s because Durant is reportedly taking much less than he could have gotten:
Durant taking way less than expected–around $25-26M next year instead of $31M–gave Dubs room to bump Iguodala up to $16M per & keep him.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 3, 2017
It’s important to note that the $31 million figure Aldridge references isn’t the max, it’s what Durant was expected to take.
Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Kevin Durant will agree to a two-year, approximately $53 million deal, league sources told ESPN.
Durant, who is an unrestricted free agent, will possess a player option on the second year, sources say. Durant would likely opt out again in the summer of 2018, according to sources.
The 2017 NBA Finals MVP will be taking somewhere in the vicinity of a $9 million pay cut, being that he could have secured a max of $34 million.
Durant’s unselfishness helped the Warriors keep Andre Iguodola and Shaun Livingston:
Golden State locked both players up for three more seasons, and it was Durant’s gesture that helped the organization produce the finances necessary to get those deals done.
Sources say that had Iguodala left via free agency, Durant was willing to take even less to help restock the roster.
Of course, there is a bit of a twist, since the main reason Golden State might not have had the finances to re-sign both Livingston and Iggy had nothing to do with the salary cap, and everything to do with the luxury tax:
KD taking almost exactly $6M less this season will save Joe Lacob $19.675 million in total salary+luxury tax payments, at a minimum.
— Jeff Siegel (@jgsiegel) July 3, 2017
I honestly can't fathom wanting to save a billionaire money. https://t.co/GU4k7DJjZU
— Jared Wade (@Jared_Wade) July 3, 2017
And that’s where the $31 million comes in:
KD taking the $31M was already selfless to allow Iggy/Liv ability to return. Taking even less is just saving owner $$$
— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) July 3, 2017
As a fun side note, here’s one report of who the Warriors might have targeted had Iguodola left:
Side story about Durant: If Andre Iguodala had left, I'm told Durant was going to give even more than this back to make room for Rudy Gay.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 3, 2017
Rudy Gay is somehow only 30. That’s baffling.
Durant is truly demonstrating a commitment to winning, there’s no doubt about that. Whether or not he should have had to demonstrate it to this degree remains to be seen; the Warriors should just be printing money, at this point, so it’s hard to see how luxury tax concerns should matter to Joe Lacob.
Regardless, it looks like the NBA’s competitive balance, or lack thereof, will continue to be a topic going forward.