Kevin Durant will become a free agent after declining a $31.5 million player option to stay with the Golden State Warriors in 2019-20, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Durant can still re-sign with the Warriors, but this decision signals to the basketball world that one of the most talented players alive still expects to receive a more lucrative deal in free agency despite tearing his right Achilles tendon in the Finals.
The Warriors and New York Knicks are expected to offer Durant a full max contract when free agency opens at 6 p.m. ET on June 30, league sources told Yahoo Sports. That would mean as much as five years and $221 million from Golden State or four years and $164 million from another team. The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers have also been rumored suitors for the 30-year-old two-time Finals MVP.
Durant has been spotted this week in New York, where his company Thirty Five Ventures is located. Wojnarowski reported that Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman (a New York native) are currently in the city weighing their options.
Durant’s decision to decline $31.5 million guaranteed from the Warriors is not unexpected. Given that he will miss either all or most of next season with the Achilles injury, there was some question as to whether he might pick up his player option and rehab in Golden State, where he has spent the past three seasons, before reentering free agency in 2020, when he would still command max money.
The injury may have crystallized his future: lock in four or five more years of secure income, because there is no telling what becomes of his career from here, and do so wherever he wants to spend his early 30s. Do not wait to start your next chapter.
Ever since Durant signed his one-year deal with the option last summer, speculation began that he may not be long for the Warriors, whom he led to titles in his first two seasons with the team. An early season dustup with teammate Draymond Green only fueled the rumors, because his free agency was an impetus for the altercation.
The playoffs saw wild swings of public opinion on whether the Warriors truly needed Durant, and the pin landed on them very much requiring his services to remain a championship-level team. Even if he never reaches 100 percent of his apex again, he is still a 7-footer capable of scoring over anyone in the league. Already one of the 15 greatest players to ever play the game, Durant’s next team can rest assured he will do whatever he can to continue climbing that all-time list.
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