Coming off his second straight NBA Finals MVP trophy after the Golden State Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to defend their NBA championship and win their third title in four years, Kevin Durant is about to enter a summer where he can opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. He has made it clear that he doesn’t intend to go anywhere, though, leaving only the question of what the next contract that keeps him in the Bay will look like.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers told reporters at Golden State’s year-end press conference on Monday that Durant’s next deal will be “whatever he wants,” saying that the 29-year-old All-Star has “earned that [right], to kind of lay out the terms.” On Tuesday, though, at a brief interview session before the start of the Warriors’ championship parade through Oakland, Myers joked that he was backtracking on that stance … in a way that did not appear to go over all that well!
The first notable quote of the parade: Bob Myers with an unexpected zing at at Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/asE6MpsgN5
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 12, 2018
“Yeah, that was just for the media,” Myers deadpanned, as head coach Steve Kerr laughed. “He can’t have anything [he wants].”
Kerr piped in with “midlevel,” a reference to the midlevel exception provided for in the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which — for a luxury-tax-paying team like the Warriors — would pay out just under $5.3 million next year. That, very clearly, wouldn’t get the job done for Durant, who’s already got a $10 million pay cut under his belt, and who’s not likely to be looking for another one this time around.
OK: so far, so good. Obvious jokes, and a head-shake or two from KD, but no hard feelings. … And then:
“Because I think last year you told Steph he could have any contract he wants, too,” Warriors broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald said, referring to Curry getting a full-freight, five-year max deal paying him in advance of $200 million, and stirring the pot in an unwelcome fashion.
“Well, yeah, that was different,” Myers said. “[Curry has] been here from the way before days. He’s earned it.”
Cue some “ohhhhhhs,” some more head-shaking, and Fitzgerald saying, “And there ended the Warriors’ cohesion.” Great work, everybody!
Minutes later, as he moved on to interview Curry and Klay Thompson, Fitzgerald kept the bit going:
“I’m going to stand in front of KD,” Fitzgerald said. “Before his Warrior exit, I want to enjoy as much time with him as possible.”
Not so much smiling and joking this time! Just more KD head-shaking, and everyone else being pretty quiet. Yeesh.
Before a fun and pleasant day for all involved could begin to get shady, though, Durant quieted things down when it was his turn in front of the mic:
"Why was that even a discussion?"
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) June 12, 2018
As Fitzgerald praised Durant’s perfect fit in Golden State and said fans wanted him back at “any contract you would like, for any amount and any years,” Durant cut it off.
“Why was that even a discussion?” Durant asked. “Why we even talking about that? Yeah, for sure, we want to do this thing again.”
Well, that settles that!
Barring some game-changing awkwardness to come, then, Durant’s eager to sign on the dotted line; what remains to be seen is how long a pact he’d prefer. Danny Leroux of The Athletic laid out the options on the table for the four-time scoring champion and two-time Finals MVP, suggesting that a two-year full maximum-salaried contract with a player option for Year 3 — the same deal LeBron signed with the Cavs after the 2016 title — might hit the sweet spot between getting him top dollar today, keeping the Warriors’ core locked up for another couple of title pushes, and giving him the chance to re-enter unrestricted free agency before his age-32 season.
Whatever deal Durant ends up signing, though, it sounds like he’s not going anywhere any time soon. Even so: maybe lay off the open-mic-night routine, gang. Best not to tempt the burner-account-activating hands of fate.
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