Oakland, Calif. — Kevin Durant reportedly 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.
When the season ended, Durant made it clear he plans to stay with the Warriors. Durant, 28, was due to earn more than $27.7 million for 2017-18 yet said he would go this route to provide the franchise with financial flexibility so Golden State general manager Bob Myers might be able to retain other key members of the group — like key reserve and 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. Then Durant could receive his max deal a year from now.
Durant now will need to begin working out a new deal once the free agency period begins Saturday, but might wait to see how things play out with his free-agent teammates before signing. He is expected to gain a 20 percent raise over the $26.5 million he made last season and would earn about $31.8 million. Durant had a deadline of Thursday to make his decision.
“It means a lot. It just shows the commitment when a guy’s willing to take less, the commitment to the team,” Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green said Wednesday. “You look at the situation, sometimes you have to do that in order to make things work. I took less so we could go and get Kevin. And it worked out. If you want to keep great teams, keep everything aligned, sometimes you have to do that. You have to be willing to sacrifice.”
Two-time MVP Stephen Curry also has indicated while he is thrilled to be up for a major raise with a new super-max deal, which could put him at the $205 million mark, he also is committed to winning.
“It’s amazing to have that kind of talent and humility and the team-oriented demeanor that both guys have,” coach Steve Kerr said last week.
Iguodala has full Bird rights, meaning the Warriors can exceed the salary cap to retain him.
Curry, who won the MVP the past two years and earned $12 million this season, scored 28.1 points in the playoffs with 6.7 assists and 6.2 rebounds.
Guard Jrue Holiday and the Pelicans reportedly have scheduled a meeting for Saturday morning.
... Jazz forward Gordon Hayward declined his option and will test free agency. Hayward reportedly has a meeting with the Heat on Saturday morninhg.
... A diversity report shows the NBA “significantly ahead” in professional sports in racial and gender hiring practices.
The league received an A for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring practices for the 2016-17 season.
The NBA drew an overall grade of A-minus.
The report card was released by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.