Golden State Warriors' All-Star forward Kevin Durant has reportedly chose to decline his player option for the 2018-19 season, thus making him an unrestricted free agent this summer, according to ESPN's Chris Haynes. It would be one thing if they just said that the Warriors were not the favorites without Curry, but to mention the Jazz and Thunder - two teams with no shot to win it all this year - does not happen without motives.
The Warriors and Durant agreed last summer to a two-year, $51-million deal with the player owning the opt-out option.
With a rash of injuries and tougher competition this year, the Warriors' path to the Finals might be tougher than ever.
Through the trials and tribulations of the regular season, Warriors players and head coach Steve Kerr have maintained that the Warriors' issues with complacency and boredom should be significantly allayed once they reach the playoffs and begin to play truly meaningful games. The discount allowed the team to re-sign Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala, something general manager Bob Myers appreciated.
"Financially, obviously, what I wanted to do past year, it made sense", Durant told the Athletic in March.
Another NBA Finals victory would be the second of Durant's career and second since he's played for Golden State.
In the former scenario, Durant can opt out after the first year and sign a five-year max deal that would see his salary peak at $49.9 million in his fifth year.
When the Warriors signed Kevin Durant in 2016, there was a prevailing belief that they were injury-proof - meaning they had enough talent that even if one of their best players got hurt, they could still succeed. He has added a defensive element to his game this year making him one of, if not the best two-way player in the National Basketball Association. "But I'm enjoying every moment of it, so I'm not trying to look too far down the line", Durant said. We've been in that situation now three years in a row. Over the past 14 games, he's averaging 17.1 points, 4.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 35.4 minutes.