Durant on pay-cut: “It’s my money. It’s my decision.”
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts in the closing moments against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Kevin Durant hit back at critics of his offseason pay-cut, telling Anthony Slater of The Athletic San Francisco, “It’s my money. It’s my decision. I can do what the hell I want with it."
Durant could have made as much as $36 million per season on a maximum deal. Instead, he took approximately $11 million less, on a two-year deal (second year being a player option).
As a result, that helped the Warriors re-sign the majority of their core from last season, including free agents Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and David West, without facing exorbitant luxury tax penalties. The team was also able to add gunners Nick Young and Omri Casspi.
“Well, I’m a smart guy and I want to keep this thing going and looking at Andre [Iguodala] and Shaun [Livingston] and Steph [Curry] - they all should make the most money that they can make and get what they deserve. Because they were all underpaid and I knew at some point they’d want to get what they deserve. So I just took a step back and let the chips fall where they may,” Durant said. “I wanted to keep the team together and I thought it was going to help the ownership bring all the guys back.”
Despite the selfless nature of the move, some NBA fans criticized Durant’s decision, but the 2017 Finals MVP isn’t paying attention to them. “They only [criticized] it because it’s the Warriors and it’s me and they love to hate anything we do right now,” he explained. “A lot of players have [taken pay-cuts]. It wasn’t that I wanted the praise. I’ve learned from Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki and how it has helped them over the years and I thought, if they did it, why can’t I? Why shouldn’t I sacrifice?
“People wanted the money to break us up and I didn’t want that to happen.”
Golden State is in prime position to defend their title, having also brought back centers Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee. They defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers last season in five games, falling just short of a perfect run through the Playoffs.
As a result of their dominant season, the general managers of opposing teams have done a lot of moves during the offseason to shore up their squads, a move Durant approved of. “You’re just seeing a lot of these GMs buckling down and saying, you know what, let’s swing for the fences. Let’s see what we can do.
“It’s a great league and you want to see the best players on the biggest stage. Why not see the best players? All of them on a few teams. Why not see that? That’s what this league is about. It’s star-driven and it’s good to see that the stars dictate how the league is supposed to go.”
Durant and the rest of the Warriors will begin the 2017-18 season against one such opponent, the revamped Houston Rockets, with James Harden and Chris Paul, on Oct. 17 (Oct. 18, PHL time).