Storyline: Kevin Durant Free Agency

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The 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors have re-signed free agents Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia and David West to contracts, the team announced today. Per team policy, terms of the agreements were not released. Curry, 29, averaged a team-high 25.3 points per game (10th in the NBA) in 2016-17 to go with 6.6 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.81 steals (seventh) in 33.4 minutes over 79 games, earning All-NBA Second Team honors. The two-time MVP led the league in three-point field goals for a fifth consecutive year, following his NBA-record 402 threes in 2015-16 with 316 triples in 2016-17, including an NBA single-game record 13 threes on Nov. 7 vs. New Orleans. Curry upped his averages to 28.1 points, 6.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds in 35.4 minutes over 17 games in the 2017 postseason, helping Golden State capture its second title in three seasons. In eight career seasons with the Warriors, Curry owns averages of 22.8 points, 6.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.79 steals and is the franchise’s all-time leader in three-point field goals (1,917, 10th in NBA history).

Kevin Durant declined to opt in for the second year of his contract with Golden State and will become an unrestricted free agent, an expected move for the NBA Finals MVP who said he plans to do his part to keep the core of the champion Warriors intact to chase more titles. A person with direct knowledge of the decision confirmed Durant’s intentions Thursday, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement had been made.
6 months ago via ESPN

Brian Windhorst: If Kevin Durant plays ball and the owners don’t mind writing checks, they will. Durant’s situation is a little complicated, but what you need to know is that if he’s willing to accept a salary of $31.8 million for next season instead of his “max” of about $34.7 million, then the Warriors will be freed up to re-sign their key players. Durant has indicated he will do just that and the Warriors will be kept together, though Durant will probably take another one-year contract with a player option for next season for procedural reasons so he can recoup the money long-term.

But Durant could nix that issue by taking a starting salary of $31.8 million — a 20 percent increase from this season, but about $4 million less than his projected max. That would allow the Warriors to sign him under his non-Bird rights, freeing them to go over the cap to retain Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. At Saturday’s All-Star availability in New Orleans, Durant was asked if that’s something he would consider. “We’ll figure that out when the time comes,” Durant said.

Because Durant would need to be signed with cap space, the large cap holds of both Shaun Livingston ($10.9 million) and Andre Iguodala ($16.7 million) would need to be renounced. Curry’s $18 million free-agent cap hold will now be replaced with a likely $36 million salary. The remainder of the roster would be filled using the room mid-level exception and minimum players, meaning the total committed salaries for next season will likely be $135 million. Golden State will likely be in the luxury tax with a $21.5 million penalty. A. Under contract Kevin Durant $36,050,000. Stephen Curry $36,050,000. Klay Thompson $17,826,150. Draymond Green $16,400,000.

Did Durant deceive the Thunder in any way? Donovan, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: I think Kevin on the front end was very, very honest. When the season ended, he was going to go through this process, and he was going to take a meeting with us obviously first and then he was going to have some other teams he was going to meet with. And I think a little bit later on, after the season ended, they decided to do it out in the Hamptons. But I thought the meeting that we had went very well. I think we talked about basketball. We talked about our team. We talked about direction, talked about obviously his leadership, his role – all those kind of things. And I think, leaving the meeting, it was very, very, I thought, positive. I thought it was very, very clear. I think there was direction on both sides.

And the one thing I think with Kevin was that going through nine years with the organization, he was at a point in time where he was allowed obviously to be this free agent and go through this process and start to gather some information. We were the first meeting. So, obviously, I think, being in college for so long and you go through recruiting, you know that during that process things can change through some of these different meetings. And obviously, after meeting with Golden State, things probably in his mind probably changed.

“I’m not coming into a team where a guy is playing my position and we have try to fit in two guys playing the same position,” Durant told The Vertical. “I’m not coming in trying to play the point guard, trying to play the shooting guard. I’m a small forward. The team didn’t have a small forward when I signed. Steph, Klay, Draymond, the bigs, we all play different positions. Whether it’s minutes, shots, opportunities, any good team will have players sacrificing. That’s the nature of the game. I’m not coming into a game saying that I need my 18 shots and I need to get to the line 12 times. I let the game flow naturally.”

“If you like basketball. If you enjoy basketball,” Durant said. “But if you enjoy the drama and everything that comes around, the narratives, the comparisons and the rankings, obviously, it’s going to be like a TV show to you. If you enjoy pure basketball, like I enjoy it, then it don’t matter who is playing. You’re going to want to watch good basketball. If you enjoy basketball in its purest form, you can appreciate how far our league has come and the great players in our league. But if you enjoy all that [expletive] that comes from the outside, then you’ll love the boos and the tweets and the first takes and all that. I love basketball and I love whoever loves the game in its purest form.”

“We were the only team in the NBA to beat both (Cleveland and Golden State) on their home court — the only team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics,” Crowder said. “We told him that. We played him clips from both games and told him basically the scouting report of how we guarded Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) — our entire game plan, basically. That’s what made me mad. We (expletive) told him everything we do to beat these guys, and we beat them, and he went and joined them. I mean, that’s part of the process, but I did not think he would go to those two teams … I felt like afterward, I was talking to Isaiah, like maybe after you sit back, you shouldn’t have told him everything, but who the (expletive) thought he was going to Golden State, realistically? It was like a slap in the face for us, basically.”

“That team is for sure the villain of the league,” Crowder said. “Every other NBA guy, friends of mine, are really disgusted from how the league is turning on that standpoint. Everybody is joining together, everybody wants to go to Golden State or Cleveland.” The Celtics, meanwhile, will look to move forward with a strong team, only made stronger by the acquisition of Horford. While Crowder said he is looking forward to playing the Warriors, they aren’t his primary focus. “I’m looking for sure to beat Golden State the most, probably, but at the end of the day, our task is the Eastern Conference,” he said. “We have to see Cleveland. That’s where my focus is, that’s what drives me. We have to beat those guys to advance.”

“There’s no commitment from Kevin,” Welts said. “He signed a one-year contract with a player option. So I think the hope and expectation is there’s a business reason for doing that more than there is a basketball reason for doing that. We’ve got to be a place that is as good as he thought it was when he selected the Warriors over the other options that he had. I think we’re going through a really interesting time in our league. We’re all trying to figure out what the new world is going to look like.”

The first day, though, was not easy. At his introductory press conference, Durant sat stiffly atop the dais, bracing for the inevitable queries about shortcuts to titles. When Kerr suggested he might bring his shiny new acquisition off the bench, everybody laughed except Durant, causing the coach to clarify. “I’m joking,” he said. Eventually, Durant warmed up. “We live in this superhero comic book world,” he said, “where you’re either a villain or you’re a superhero…I trusted my gut. I trusted my instincts. It’s the unpopular decision. But I can live with it.” From the Philippines, where Canada participated in an Olympic qualifying tournament, Nash downplayed his friend’s quest for NBA gold. “I think it was as much a personal move for his happiness and development as it was to win,” Nash told reporters.

Knicks general manager Steve Mills said his club didn’t meet Kevin Durant’s criterion as a team on the verge of an NBA championship, but indicated they would have been more eager for a Hamptons meeting with Durant had they thought he would be a free agent again next season. Team president Phil Jackson indicated similarly last week that a free-agent meeting with Durant (who signed with the Warriors on two-year deal with a player option after one) was more about building a relationship for “next time.’’
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December 13, 2017 | 9:13 pm EST Update