Kevin Durant informed the Warriors of his intention to opt out of his contract, but it never felt like he was going to actually leave Golden State. Durant reportedly will confirm that after free agency begins on July 1.
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According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Durant plans to inform the Warriors at 12:01 a.m. ET that he wants to sign a new two-year contract with the Warriors, which would include the option to opt out of the second year. This kind of deal is also known as a one-plus-one contract. Players who take this contract typically do so with the intention of opting out after the first year.
By taking this kind of deal, Durant would give the Warriors a little more breathing room in the short term to sign free agents over the summer. Just like his last deal, Durant is reportedly once again sacrificing money for the sake of the Warriors. However, this is setting him up for a huge contract in the following summer if he chooses to opt out again.
It’s a little strange that Durant would want a short-term deal, though. It might make him more money if he signs a long-term deal next summer instead, but could he have ulterior motives besides money? The assumption is that Durant is just trying to use smaller contracts to take advantage of a rising cap, but at the same time he’s giving himself an out if he wanted to leave Golden State in the future.
The idea of Durant leaving a team he’s won two championships and two finals MVPs with sounds odd, but it’s a possibility. His fit on the Warriors has always felt a little awkward despite his success and maybe that awkwardness has contributed to his desire for short-term deals. It’s an out in case the good situation he has eventually stops working out.
That or he’s just taking advantage of a rising salary cap. If he’s really playing the long game here then he’s setting himself up to one day make over $200 million through his early 30s. If Durant opts out of his contract after next season and immediately signs a $200 million contract, then all the worrying about his future in Golden State becomes a moot point.
With Durant deciding to not take a full on max contract, he’s providing a huge help to the Warriors in the short term. They not only have more money to make moves in free agency, but the reported contract will save Golden State $20 million in luxury tax costs.
If there’s one thing nobody can criticize Durant for it’s that he’s willing to sacrifice for his team. Whether that’s good for the NBA or not is a question for another time, but it certainly says a lot about Durant as a player.