Durant the free agent set for big-money move

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant suffered a calf injury in Game 5 of the play-off semi-finals against Houston Rockets before rupturing his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals series against Toronto Raptors. PHOTO: REUTERS
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant suffered a calf injury in Game 5 of the play-off semi-finals against Houston Rockets before rupturing his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals series against Toronto Raptors. PHOTO: REUTERS

OAKLAND • In what might be another signal of his expected departure, Kevin Durant opted out of his player option that would have paid him US$31.5 million (S$42.7 million) to be with Golden State next season, a league source confirmed to Bay Area News Group and corroborated by ESPN.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star had planned to opt out of his player option since re-signing with the Warriors last summer, but it did not become official, though, until Wednesday evening.

The move makes him a free agent as he focuses on rehabilitation for his surgically repaired right Achilles tendon.

Durant, 30, could have considered that in the hopes of then landing either a five-year deal with the Warriors or a four-year deal next summer.

Despite suffering an injury that has often derailed other players' NBA careers, Durant is expected to receive a max contract anywhere in the league.

There are a host of teams interested, including the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks, who have enough cap space to sign him without a sign-and-trade.

The Warriors can re-sign him for five years at US$221 million, while he can sign elsewhere for a four-year deal at US$164 million.

Golden State could also agree to a sign-and-trade with the forward so they receive assets in return, although the recently deposed NBA champions have maintained that they have not considered that scenario.

  • $221m

    Kevin Durant's fee, in US dollars, if the Golden State Warriors re-sign him on a five-year deal after he opted out of his player option worth US$31.5 million.

For now, the Warriors are hoping that Durant re-signs with the team after winning two NBA championship titles and two Finals Most Valuable Player awards before his third season soured with the serious injury he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against eventual league champions Toronto Raptors.

After having surgery on June 12 in New York, he has remained in the city.

It is currently unclear what rehab he has completed since then, although players are normally immobilised for at least a month before beginning physical therapy.

Meanwhile, the Warriors have not released a timetable on his expected return, but it is expected that Durant will sit out the whole of next term.

Multiple reports have suggested that the forward is keen on teaming up with fellow All-Star Kyrie Irving, with the guard also expected to opt out of his contract with the Boston Celtics.

Toronto Raptors forward and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Warriors All-Star guard Klay Thompson are expected to be among the other top players on offer when free agency opens on Sunday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2019, with the headline 'Durant the free agent set for big-money move'. Print Edition | Subscribe