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Durant decides that less is more

China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-05 07:01

 Durant decides that less is more

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant gestures as he holds the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award after finishing off the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 12 in Oakland, California. AP File

Warriors star opts for pay cut to help ensure roster will stay intact

OAKLAND, California - The NBA Finals MVP gladly accepted a pay cut.

One day shy of a year after announcing his decision to join the powerhouse Warriors, Kevin Durant took far less than he could have to help make sure they stay winners and chase more championships.

On Monday, KD agreed to a contract worth approximately $53 million over the next two years.

Still exhilarated from his first career title, Durant has made it clear he hopes to build a dynasty alongside Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

The new contract calls for Durant to be paid about $25 million in the first year with a player option for the second season.

The deal won't become official until the free-agency moratorium period ends on Thursday.

As he planned all along to provide the Warriors with financial flexibility, Durant waited as Golden State general manager Bob Myers signed the other free agents.

Curry got a record $201 million over five years; 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala got a three-year contract with $48 million guaranteed; fellow key reserves Shaun Livingston got $24 million for three years, and David West signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum $2.3 million.

Last Thursday, Durant declined to opt in for the $27.7 million second year of his previous deal with the Warriors and became an unrestricted free agent.

The move was expected, as Durant insisted when the season ended that he would do his part to keep the core of the roster intact.

He could have signed a max deal that would have paid him millions more next season, but that contract will come soon enough. He is expected to decline the player option next year and then sign for the maximum.

He and Curry vowed to do whatever they could in negotiations to ensure Myers had money to work with to keep as many of the others as possible.

Durant, villainized for his choice to bolt OKC, made it clear he wasn't going anywhere. The 28-year-old forward had been projected to receive a 20 percent raise over the $26.5 million he made last season, which would have been about $31.8 million.

After he missed 19 games with a left knee injury, Durant returned to the floor late in the regular season with his Warriors on a roll and declared he would take his game to another level come playoff time.

Durant averaged 28.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists and shot 55.6 percent, scoring more than 30 points in nine of his 15 playoff games.

He also emerged as a smothering defender and shot-blocker, handling much of the load against LeBron James during the Finals.

The Warriors beat the Cavaliers in five games for their second title in three seasons, and Durant's first after he departed Oklahoma City.

On July 4 last year, Durant announced his decision to leave the Thunder, something that still stings for his former fans in Oklahoma.

That choice came after Curry, Green, Iguodala and Thompson traveled to make a group plea for KD.

The scrutiny came immediately: Would there be enough shots to go around? How would Curry respond to no longer being the biggest Bay Area basketball star? How long would it take for chemistry to develop?

All of those things were pretty much moot.

The Warriors just kept winning, and their championship said it all. Every team is now chasing the franchise.

Ten years after becoming the No 2 draft pick behind Greg Oden, Durant hoisted a trophy and will have his ring at last.

Curry, the two-time MVP, allowed Durant to get comfortable right away by putting his own stats aside. By late in the season, he and Durant were sharing the same practice court and engaging in fierce but good-natured shooting contests.

"You don't have to be great friends to be great teammates, but I think it helps," said coach Steve Kerr.

Durant had pushed Curry from afar years ago.

"We were in the same freshman class in college, so I was always chasing KD's numbers in my freshman year," Curry said.

"Any time I had a good game, our points per game were really close. Then he kind of took off down the stretch that freshman year, but I knew he was pretty much a one-and-done-type situation.

"I didn't follow the draft that much that year, but for somebody that has so much potential and hype around him, to actually see it to fruition, with that kind of pressure, that kind of spotlight, that's a mark of a guy that wasn't complacent with where he was at any point. He always wanted to get better. He's done that."

Associated Press

 

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