On Monday, any doubts how much Kevin Durant enjoyed winning the NBA championship last season were put to rest, when the Golden State superstar signed a new one year deal for $25 million, that includes a player option for an additional season.
Yes, the $25 million is a huge amount of money to earn for one year of work, but Durant took close to $10 million less than he could of received so he could remain with Golden State and ensure that the team would keep its key roles players such as Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala on the roster. Both re-signed during the first hours of free agency.
One source explained that Durant wants to win and keep having fun more than anything else.
However, there is a secondary effect the move Durant made will have. By accepting less now, Durant has sent out a clear message to management of the team that he did his part and now the team better do its part, both now and down the line.
Over the short-term, the decision by Durant saves loads of money for the Warriors or approximately $25 million alone for just next season in luxury and payroll tax commitments by taking close to $6.8 million less than what he was eligible for while allowing the team to retain the services of both Livingston and Iguodala.
It is no coincidence either that the difference between the amount Durant could have signed for this year and what he decided to take was just larger than the $5.1 million mid-level exception. That leaves Golden State the room it needs to add another supporting piece that is of a higher quality than they would have expected otherwise.
The deal amounts to yet one more coup for the Warriors. The team took complete advantage of the huge cap spike of last year, when they signed Durant without needing to break up their core of talent led by Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson that resulted in their second NBA title in the last three years.
Over the long term, this is about the players currently on the roster ensuring that ownership will do everything in its power to keep the team together.
With signings next year of Durant to another long term deal, rookie Pat McCaw to a new deal and Thompson due to sign in two seasons means that the total payroll and luxury tax bill could reach over $300 million for the Warriors.
That would be over $100 million above any other NBA team’s cost for any one season in league history.