NBA superstar Kevin Durant has declined his $31.5 million player option according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He will become an unrestricted free agent.
Kevin Durant Declines Player Option, Will Test Free Agency
The move would not have been much of a surprise, had Durant not gone down with an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals that will likely sideline him for the entire 2019-20 season. Now, he is gambling on himself in hopes a team will sign him to a long-term maximum deal.
Of course, the news does not necessarily imply that Durant will be leaving the Golden State Warriors this summer. The Warriors can still offer Durant the longest contract of any team, providing the most long-term security for the superstar. The move does imply that Durant believes multiple teams will still have an extreme interest in him, enough so to pay him the max while sitting on the bench in a suit for a season.
Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant has declined his $31.5M player option and will become an unrestricted free agent, league sources tell ESPN. Durant and his business manager Rich Kleiman are in New York, evaluating free agency options. So far, process has stayed private.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 26, 2019
The Warriors could — oddly enough — be the winners in this situation, even if Durant packs his bags and leaves town. Had he opted into his player option, they would have to essentially eat $31 million while Stephen Curry runs the show virtually alone. With Klay Thompson also likely missing a huge chunk of next season, the Warriors would have nowhere to turn and no money to spend on other roster pieces. If Durant leaves, the Warriors will have enough cap space to flesh out their roster.
When Durant went down in the Finals, the entire NBA world held their breath. The injury did not just change the outcome of the game but potentially altered the league for the foreseeable future. Rumors of superstar team-ups in New York or Los Angeles ran rampant all season but quickly hushed at that moment. It seems highly unlikely that Durant will suit up next season, no matter what team he signs with. Dreams of Durant and Kyrie Irving on the New York Knicks, or an unlikely pairing with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers will have to be put on hold.
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