The NBA offseason has already seen a flurry of action. There have been deals around the draft that could go on to define a franchise, and proven All-Stars changing teams to head to Houston, Boston, and all across the league.
But of all the moves that have happened since the end of the Finals in June, it’s possible that the biggest deal of the offseason wasn’t a move at all.
On Monday Kevin Durant agreed to a new two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors. Durant will make $US25 million during the 2017-18 season, $US1.5 million less than he made last year and $US9.5 million less than he was eligible to receive. The deal includes a player option for the second year at $US26.25 million.
The pay cut also came just days after fellow Warrior Steph Curry signed an NBA-record-setting deal for over $US201 million over five years.
By taking less money, Durant made it easier for the Warriors to bring back almost the exact same core of players who dominated the 2017 playoffs and took home the title with a postseason record of 16-1. Most importantly, the Warriors re-signed Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, two key members of the team’s deep bench.
If Durant had signed a max contract the Warriors still could have bought back Iguodala and Livingston for the 2017-18 season, but at an extremely high cost. By taking the pay cut, Durant will have saved the Warriors as much as $US25 million in salary and luxury tax money, a price ownership may not have been willing to pay for all three players.
Durant taking less than he was eligible for took the pressure off the Warriors and may forced the ownership’s hand in bringing back the two players.
Additionally, the money Durant passed up on is strikingly close to what Golden State could offer to a free agent with the mid-level exception, as the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps noted, which could potentially give the Warriors the flexibility to add yet another piece to their already unstoppable lineup.
The move puts the Warriors in even better position to win another title, and they were already the heavy favourites. Other basketball dynasties have struggled to keep three superstars together on a team at once. With the help of Durant’s selfless move, the Warriors look like they will be bringing back at least their top six guys from last year’s championship team, and adding Nick Young to the mix as a cherry on top.
While teams across the league are spending big money and attempting to attract star players in order to hopefully compete with the Warriors, Durant’s pay cut may have just made all of their efforts irrelevant and made another Golden State title in 2018 feel almost inevitable.
Sources say the taxpayer MLE is still in play for the Warriors. Doesn’t seem a coincidence Durant’s haircut is for slightly more than that #
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) July 4, 2017
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