According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Golden State Warriors Kevin Durant has declined his player option for next 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
And so it begins.
Durant declining this option always felt expected; however, it became at least a tad more likely that the superstar could consider picking it up after rupturing his Achilles during the NBA Finals. The injury has certainly cautioned the market in pursuing Durant, considering the possibility that a team will be paying him one entire year just to sit on the bench.
Nevertheless, the big players such as the Knicks and Nets appears to still be in the conversation, making Durant a priority. According to ESPN’s report, the Los Angeles Clipper also appear to be in consideration, per league sources.
Please keep in mind this move does not mean Durant isn’t staying with Golden State. League sources have already said the Warriors will plan to offer both Durant and Klay Thompson (who tore his ACL during the finals) max contracts this offseason. Golden State has a leg up in what the franchise is able to offer Durant with a five-year $221 million contract on the table. On the other hand, if Durant decided to head elsewhere he would be provided with a max contract of four-years $164 million.
Durant officially opting-out comes soon after reportedly meeting with Kyrie Irving.
Durant and Kyrie have reportedly met twice recently to “discuss their desire to continue their careers on the same team”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 24, 2019
Irving appears to be in the fight for Durant as well, looking for a place for the two to link up. The Nets and Knicks feel like the most plausible candidates, with the arrow pointing toward Brooklyn right now. Neither team was a truly strong contender for a playoff run last season (especially the Knicks), but if the team lands one, let alone these two, highly touted free agents, then the Eastern Conference will have a whole new team to worry about.
With the Bulls still trying to push their way out of a rebuild, nows not really the time for the Eastern Conference to become more competitive.