For the second consecutive year, Kevin Durant has agreed to do a favor for the Warriors.
He also proved once more that, for now, his highest priority is not to extract maximum NBA dollars.
Durant’s decision Saturday to accept a $61.5 million, two-year contract, with a player option in Year 2, provides him maximum control of his future while the Warriors get an immediate financial break.
Durant can’t sign until the moratorium ends Friday, but under this agreement he’ll be paid $30 million, the maximum 20-percent raise over the discounted $25 million deal he signed last July, in 2018-19 with $31.5 million on the table next July.
If he were to sign a three-year contract, with the player option in Year 3, he could have gotten a salary of about $35.3 million in Year 1 -- and the additional $5.3 million would have pushed the Warriors considerably deeper into the luxury tax.
Though the Warriors plan to fill out their roster with minimum contracts and maybe -- maybe -- utilize their $5.38 million taxpayer midlevel exception, Durant’s decision could shave more $25 million from their luxury tax bill.
Co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have to like that.
Durant, however, sets himself up very nicely for next summer. If he declines his option, and there is no reason he wouldn’t, the Warriors would have his full Bird rights, making him eligible to re-sign a five-year pact worth roughly $220 million.
This agreement comes one year after Durant saved Lacob and Guber $9.5 million, ostensibly to help them re-sign veteran free agents Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston
With Iguodala and Livingston are safely in the fold for another year, Durant’s motives were different this time. He still helps the Warriors now, but he really, really helps himself later.