Durant takes less to chase more wins
OAKLAND, Calif. — The NBA Finals MVP gladly accepted a pay cut.
One day shy of a year after announcing his decision to join the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant took far less than he could have to help make sure they chase more championships.
Durant agreed to terms Monday on a contract worth about $53 million over the next two years.
Durant has made it clear he hopes to build a dynasty alongside Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Durant’s new contract calls for about $25 million in the first year with a player option for the second season, a person with direct knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity Monday because it won’t become official until the end of the free agency moratorium period Thursday.
Durant waited as Golden State General Manager Bob Myers signed the other free agents — Curry for a record $201 million over five years; 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala on a three-year contract with $48 million guaranteed; fellow key reserves Shaun Livingston for $24 million and three years and David West on a one-year deal for the veteran minimum $2.3 million.
Last Thursday, Durant declined to opt in for the $27.7 million second year of his previous deal with the Warriors and became an unrestricted free agent. The move was expected as Durant insisted when the season ended that he would do his part to keep the core of the roster intact. He could have signed a max deal that would have paid him millions more next season, but that contract will come soon enough. He is expected to decline the player option next year and sign for the maximum then.
The 28-year-old forward had been projected to receive a 20 percent raise over the $26.5 million he made last season, which would have been about $31.8 million.
After he missed 19 games with a left knee injury, Durant returned to the floor late in the regular season with his Warriors on a roll and declared he would take his game to another level come playoff time.
Durant averaged 28.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists and shot 55.6 percent, scoring more than 30 points in nine of his 15 playoff games. He also emerged as a smothering defender and shot-blocker, handling much of the load against LeBron James during the Finals. The Warriors beat the Cavaliers in five games for their second title in three seasons.
One of the top available free agents remaining, Utah Jazz All-Star forward Gordon Hayward, has visited his suitors. All that’s left is a decision.
The Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Jazz are all awaiting word on what the 27-yearold will do. Monday afternoon in San Diego, where Hayward has a home, he met with the
only bosses and teammates he’s ever known — Jazz owner Gail Miller; General Manager Dennis Lindsey; Coach Quin Snyder; and a group of players led by center Rudy Gobert, the league’s leading shot blocker last season, and recently resigned forward Joe Ingles, Hayward’s closest friend on the team.
The Jazz also brought in newly acquired point guard Ricky Rubio, who made the trip from Spain, ESPN reported.
The meeting was the last of three in a three-city tour for Hayward, who began his trip Saturday in Miami with Pat Riley and the Heat and continued to Boston on Sunday, where his former college coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics made their pitch.
The 6-8 Hayward averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and shot nearly 40 percent from three-point range in earning his first All-Star selection last season with the Jazz.
The Jazz can offer him a longer, richer contract (five years, $172.4 million) than Boston and Miami can (four years, $127.8 million), and a guarantee he’ll remain the central figure on offense. Utah has progressively improved year-to-year over the past four seasons, too, going from 25 victories to 38 to 40 to 51 last season, reaching the second round of the playoffs back in May before being swept by the Warriors.
Late Monday, the New York Knicks signed former Vanderbilt center Luke Kornet to one of the two-way contracts allowable under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
NBA teams are allowed two two-way players on their roster in addition to their 15-man roster. The two-way player spends most of his time with the NBA club’s G League — which used to be called the D League — affiliate, but can spend up to 45 days with the NBA team during the season.
The 7-1 Kornet averaged 13.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks last season, earning All-SEC and All-SEC defensive honors. He holds the NCAA record for three-pointers made by a 7-footer with 150.
Kornet is playing with the Knicks’ summer league entry in Orlando, Fla.