The biggest free agent question of the NBA season was answered Monday as All-Pro Forward Kevin Durant announced he would be joining Western Conference champions Golden State this coming season.
Teams cannot formally sign players until Friday. But it is widely expected that Durant on that day will sign a two-year deal for $54 million with a player option on the second year. The NBA salary cap is expected to surge again in the 2017-18 season to over $100 million dollars.
Durant played his previous nine seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He averaged 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists over that period. The Thunder reached one NBA Finals and multiple Conference Finals, but never won a title. This past season they had the Warriors down 3-1, then lost three straight games.
Durant cited growth as a player and the desire to move out of his comfort zone as the main reasons for his decision. He thanked the Thunder and his teammates in a statement published in the Players’ Tribune, an online site owned by former New York Yankees Captain and shortstop Derek Jeter.
The Warriors are now taking steps to clear roster space for Durant. Both Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes are headed to the Dallas Mavericks in separate transactions. With Golden State coming off a 73-win season but blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals, the addition of Durant makes them prohibitive favorites to recapture the title next season. If the Warriors and Cavaliers meet for a third straight time in the Finals, it would be the first time in league history that this happened. ￼