OAKLAND — Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers said on Monday that Kevin Durant can have “whatever he wants,” when it comes to negotiating a new contract to remain in the Bay Area.
“Sometimes,” Myers said, “you don’t negotiate.”
Durant — who won his second NBA Finals MVP in a row on Friday — signed a team-friendly deal worth $9 million less than a max contract this past offseason, allowing Golden State to retain key pieces that helped the team win its third title in four years. Durant, who will opt out of his deal before the June 29 deadline, has repeatedly said he wants to return, and would be in line for a maximum deal.
When Durant originally left the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the Warriors in 2016, he agreed to a two-year, $54.3 million deal that came with a player option in 2017-18. He declined that option in order to sign the team-friendly $51.25 million, two-year deal, which allowed Golden State to sign Stephen Curry to a supermax deal and retain both Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
“I’d love to get him for 10 years,” Myers said. “Look what he did for us last year. He did us a great service, so he’s earned the right to sign whatever deal he wants.”
Durant reportedly declined the contract’s $26.2 million 2018-19 player option this April, in order to re-structure his deal, and said during the Finals — which the Warriors won in a sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers — that he wanted to return to Golden State.
“It’s better than him saying he’s not coming,” Myers chuckled. “Maybe I’m naive, but I never felt like he was leaving. I got asked that question a lot, which I was a little surprised, but I thought he was happy. I’m glad he said that. We want him to be happy. I felt validation. However you hear it is good, but I think he’s enjoyed his time here, and certainly it’s been great for us and great for him.”
There is no incentive for Durant to sign less than a max deal, as it wouldn’t affect how the Warriors fill out their roster this offseason, which may see David West retire, and the departure of several bench pieces like Kevon Looney. Both Myers and head coach Steve Kerr said they want the team to get younger.
The question for Durant is how long the deal will last. If he signs a two-year deal, with a player option for a third, he would become a free agent again in 2020, when the salary cap is expected to go up by $11 million.
Durant has early Larry Bird exception rights — teams can go over cap to sign their own free agents who have been with the same team for two seasons. Given that, he would be eligible for a four-year contract for up to 175 percent of his salary from this season (up to the max contract value of 35 percent of the salary cap for players with Durant’s service time).
Given salary cap projections, Durant could make over $155 million on a four-year deal.
Durant has reportedly said he could see himself retiring at 35, which would be five seasons from now. If he takes a one-year deal with a player option for a second. That would allow him to sign a five-year deal next summer, worth $219 million.
“I just want him to sign a deal, but I want him to be happy, and I want him to know we want him as long as he wants to be here,” Myers said. “He’s earned that, to kind of lay out the terms.”
Since coming to Golden State, Durant has won back-to-back NBA titles, has won back-to-back Finals MVPs, been named All-NBA once, been a two-time All-Star and provided “an unbelievable luxury,” as Kerr has said. When Curry or Thompson go dark — as they did in Game 3 against the Cavaliers — Durant serves as a balm. In the case of Game 3, that meant scoring 43 points.
In his two years with the Warriors, Durant has averaged 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 7.5 rebounds per game, en route to two All-Star nods and an All-NBA selection. This year, he had the 10th-best true shooting percentage of players who played in 60 or more games this season. Last year, he was third.
“Whatever he wants,” Myers said. “He can do whatever he wants, and … that shouldn’t be a long negotiation,” Myers said. “Our goal, to be honest, is to try and keep the whole thing together.”