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Kevin Durant: If I take another $10 million pay cut, Warriors ‘going to start taking advantage of me’

Warriors Spurs Basketball

Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant warms up on the court before Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, April 22, 2018, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 103-90. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)


Kevin Durant will re-sign with the Warriors. He has already confirmed that.

But for how much?

For most players of his caliber, it’d be simple. The max salary – projected to be about $35 million – would be his salary. The only question would be whether he takes another 1+1 deal (with a 5% raise to the option year and the ability to sign for five years and 8% raises on his next contract with Golden State or a four-year deal (with 8% raises).

With Durant, there’s much more uncertainty.

He took a big pay cut last summer – some of it for no clear reason. Durant’s max salary was $34,682,550. By accepting $31,848,120 or less, he allowed the Warriors to keep Andre Iguodala’s and Shaun Livingston’s Bird Rights and more easily re-sign the pair. But Durant went even further – signing for $25,000,000.

That’s a $9,682,550 reduction from his true max and a $6,848,120 from the Non-Bird max that would have facilitated re-signing Iguodala and Livingston.

Durant, 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.

Would he take another pay cut? Durant:

$10 million? Would that be smart?

Podcast host Tim Kawakami noted he wouldn’t have thought Durant would take such a big pay cut last year. Durant:

Me either. But 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.

Durant’s pay cut was obviously a short-term boon for the Warriors. They re-signed Iguodala and Livingston because of a portion of it. The additional reduction Durant took roughly covered Nick Young’s salary – or, if you believe Golden State would have signed Young anyway, went straight into ownership’s pockets (multiplied by the luxury-tax savings).

But I’ve long wondered what the pay cut would mean for Durant and Golden State long-term.

Would he be more or less willing to take future pay cuts because of this one? How many pay cuts would he take? If it were a one-time offer, could the Warriors have waited for a different year? Was 2017 the only year he was willing?

Stephen Curry is already guaranteed a super-max contract through 2022. Klay Thompson will be a free agent in 2019, Draymond Green in 2020. Both will be due raises. In the highly likely event the Warriors pay the luxury tax next season, they’d face the repeater rate in 2020.

This team will get expensive in a hurry – to the point it could become unaffordable.

Durant taking a pay cut later, considering the luxury-tax implications, would go much further than it did this year. But if he wants every dollar from now on – which increasingly sounds like his approach – Golden State could face some tough decisions.