» WHAT DOES THE FU­TURE HOLD FOR DU­RANT?

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Jon Becker

Will Kevin Du­rant re-sign with the Golden State War­riors or will he join the New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets or some other NBA team?

He could do both.

There’s a new wrin­kle in the sea­son­long ques­tion sur­round­ing Du­rant’s im­pend­ing free agency, thanks to an ESPN re­port sug­gest­ing the War­riors could do a “de­layed” sign-and-trade with their star for­ward.

Brian Wind­horst, ap­pear­ing on ESPN’s “Get Up” Thurs­day morn­ing, said the War­riors have talked with Du­rant about the pos­si­bil­ity of sign­ing him to a su­per max con­tract and even­tu­ally trad­ing him be­fore his likely re­turn to the court in the 2020-21 sea­son.

“One of the things that is be­ing dis­cussed right now is that the Golden State War­riors would of­fer Kevin Du­rant a five-year con­tract, $57 mil­lion ex­tra than he could get sign­ing else­where, let him re­hab and then work with him to be traded. Po­ten­tially to New York, po­ten­tially to some­where else,” Wind­horst said. “It would be their way to sort of take care of him mon­e­tar­ily af­ter what he just went through and also pro­tect the fran­chise and get some as­sets.”

The War­riors can (and will) of­fer Du­rant a five-year, $221 mil­lion su­per max con­tract, but the most he could get in a free-agent deal from an­other team is a four-year deal worth roughly $164 mil­lion.

Golden State’s of­fer to do a sign-and­trade so that Du­rant can earn an ex­tra $57 mil­lion would be a good faith ges­ture on its part, but, al­tru­ism aside, it would also as­sure the War­riors of getting something for their de­part­ing star. In that sce­nario, though, Du­rant would have to re­main prop­erty of the War­riors for one year be­fore be­ing el­i­gi­ble for a trade, as per the CBA.

“For lack of a bet­ter term, it would be a de­layed sign and trade,” Wind­horst said. “It’s the only way Du­rant could get five years and play else­where . ... The War­riors go into this as a bit of a last­ditch ef­fort to not lose Kevin Du­rant for noth­ing. And what he would get out of it would be an ex­tra $57 mil­lion come off of a dev­as­tat­ing injury. He would be pro­tected and get all of his money. Now, he’d have to trust the War­riors that they would ac­tu­ally work with you on a trade, but it’s something that has at least been dis­cussed.”

An­other ben­e­fit for the War­riors to a sign-and-even­tu­ally-trade deal is they could ap­ply to the NBA for a Dis­abled Player Ex­cep­tion, po­ten­tially allowing them to use $9.2 mil­lion to­ward sign­ing a free agent or mak­ing an­other trade. Us­ing the DPE would have se­vere lux­ury tax im­pli­ca­tions, though. Golden State’s to­tal tax penalty for us­ing the DPE could be $70 mil­lion.

Du­rant un­der­went surgery for his rup­tured right Achilles ten­don he suf­fered in Game 5 of the NBA Fi­nals last week. The injury oc­curred as he was re­turn­ing af­ter miss­ing the War­riors’ previous nine post­sea­son games with a strained right calf.

The 30-year-old Du­rant has un­til June 29 to ex­er­cise $31.5 mil­lion player op­tion for the 2019-20 sea­son, which he’s not ex­pected to do. He’d then be­come an un­re­stricted free agent on June 30.

From there, it’s any­one’s guess as to what he’ll de­cide to do.

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