Although Kevin Durant re-signed with the Golden State Warriors earlier this season, he notably did so on a short-term basis, signing a two-year contract with an option on the second year. If he opts out of the final year of his contract, that would free him up to enter free agency in the summer of 2019 to potentially sign with another team. However, one source familiar with the negotiations recently suggested that the short-term deal was part of Durant’s plan, which — if the rumors are accurate — would free him up for a longer-term, more lucrative new contract with the Warriors starting in the 2019-20 NBA season.
In a recent appearance on the Yahoo Sports NBA: Chris Mannix podcast, Mercury News writer Mark Medina speculated upon the reasons why Durant has chosen a shorter contract option with the Warriors that may find him playing for the defending NBA champions for just one more season. As quoted by NBC Sports, Medina believes this could be Durant’s way of angling for a longer, richer contract with Golden State the next time he becomes a free agent.
“No doubt, from what I was told when he made this decision, the main driving force – as you alluded to – was the financial flexibility because he can get that five-year, $219 million deal.”
Should Kevin Durant opt out of his final year and sign a new contract with the Golden State Warriors in 2019-20, that will allow him to be eligible for a five-year, $221 million contract, NBC Sports wrote. The publication, however, contested the logic of Durant signing a two-year, “1+1” deal with an option on the final year, instead of a “2+1” contract, or three years with a third-year option. According to NBC Sports, Durant could have earned an additional $5,654,150 in the 2018-19 season had he chosen to sign the latter type of contract.
“Was Durant concerned he could get a five-year max in 2019, but 2020? That’d be odd for a superstar like him,” NBC Sports pondered.
“Does he prioritize becoming a free agent in 2023 vs. 2024 (assuming he’d get a player option in a five-year deal)? It’s hard to see much difference that far out, but even there were, he could have always signed a four-year deal after his 2+1 in the alternate scenario.”
Rumor: Kevin Durant signed short deal with Warriors so he’d have ability to re-sign for five years next summer https://t.co/Uu53Ykczln— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) August 24, 2018
With averages of 26.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in 2017-18, Durant had another successful season for the Warriors, playing on his second straight championship team and making first-team All-NBA honors. As such, his name has been floated around regularly as one of 2019’s top free agent candidates, with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks often mentioned as potential suitors for the 29-year-old forward.
Regardless of the financial logic behind the move, NBC Sports interpreted Medina’s comments as meaning Kevin Durant simply wanted to set himself up for a longer-term contract with the Golden State Warriors. But with Durant having praised LeBron James’ move to the Los Angeles Lakers and DeMarcus Cousins’ short-term deal with the Warriors in a recent interview with the Undefeated, the publication said that the more likely motivation for Durant’s short-term contract was the additional freedom of choosing his own team during next year’s free agency season.