When Kevin Durant’s contract was up in 2017, he opted to take a nearly $10 million pay cut, in order to re-sign key role players Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston to the Golden State Warriors. Although this move caused some controversy, Durant clearly stated that he didn’t play basketball just for the money, and he made certain decisions based on the good of the team, or to make “good basketball decisions.” The pay cut left Durant with a $25 million dollar base salary.
Via Warriors Plus/Minus:
Money has never been the sole reason why I made any decision. I just try to make a good basketball decision. And I’m sure, hopefully, the organization does right by me, as well. That stuff always has to align. But, for the most part, I try just to let my play do the talking and handle all that stuff. And we’ll talk about the details later.
The idea of a salary cap for players assumes that players will take the hard cap maximum, helping prevent teams from hoarding more than a few star players, according to Sports Illustrated. This in turn stops star players from all flocking to one team to create a “super team” of some of the best players in the league, which is what made his salary cut somewhat controversial.
According to Spotrac, Durant “signed a 2 year / $51,250,000 contract with the Golden State Warriors, including $51,250,000 guaranteed, and an annual average salary of $25,625,000. In 2017-18, Durant will earn a base salary of $25,000,000, while carrying a cap hit of $25,000,000 and a dead cap value of $51,250,000.”
“His gesture of taking less gave us the ability to be very aggressive in pursuing Shaun and Andre,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said in July. “I can pretty much unequivocally say, without it, we’re not looking at the team we have right now. What Kevin did shows who he is, shows what he’s about, and I think it’s clear that that’s winning. Without him doing that it would have been a different roster, and clearly to me, a roster that wasn’t as good as the one we have right now.”
However, Durant’s contract included an opt-out clause. Since he took close to $10 million less than what he could have earned on a max salary for a player of his caliber, ESPN reports that Durant declined his player option for the 2018-19 season and become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Durant, a nine-time All-Star and the reigning NBA Finals MVP, will be turning down a salary of $26.2 million in order to restructure a new deal with the Warriors, sources told ESPN.
“It has yet to be decided what contractual route Durant will take, sources say, but there are no real incentives — for himself or for the team — to take such a drastic reduction in pay this time,” ESPN reports.
When asked if he would be signing a long term deal this time around, Durant told Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson on the Warriors Plus/Minus Podcast that he doesn’t want to be taken advantage of, regardless if it’s a good basketball decision or not.
I thought that, at that time, it was a good deal. But that’s not setting a good precedent for me if I’m like, “Man, I’m taking 10.” Now, they’re going to start taking advantage of me. You know what I’m saying? I know it’s a business, too. So, I’ve got a business to handle as well. We’ll see what happens, but I don’t see myself taking that big of a cut.
According to Forbes, Durant’s total earnings in 2017 was $62.5 million. Forbes puts his net worth at around $57.3 million as of June 5, 2018. Durant makes $30 million-plus in annual off-the-court earnings due to his endorsements with Nike, Beats, American Family Insurance, Alaska Airlines and Panini. ESPN Insider Bobby Marks reviewed some of Durant’s options for this upcoming offseason. You can check them out here.