Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Kevin Durant will agree to a two-year, approximately $53 million deal, resulting in the vicinity of a $9 million pay cut, league sources told ESPN on Monday.
One significant reason for the uncommon, unselfish move for such a superstar?
To keep former Arizona Wildcats standout Andre Iguodala as a teammate.
Durant, the 2017 NBA Finals MVP, could have secured a max of $34 million per year. He will make $25.9 million this season, less than he made in 2016-17 ($26.5 million).
This gives Golden State the ability to recruit and retain top-notch talent, such as Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Durant declined his 2017-18 player option to become a free agent for the sole purpose of allowing the Warriors to retain the Larry Bird rights to Iguodala and Livingston.
The Bird exception allows teams to exceed the salary cap to re-sign their own free agents, at an amount up to the maximum salary. To qualify as a Bird free agent — what Iguodala and Livingston are — a player must have played three seasons without being waived or changing teams as a free agent.
Golden State locked both Iguodala and Livingston up for three more seasons. Iguodala signed a deal worth $48 million. Durant’s gesture, staying well below his max salary potential, helped the organization produce the finances necessary to get those deals done.
ESPN reported that had Iguodala left via free agency, Durant was willing to take even less to help restock the roster.
Golden State, coached by Arizona legend Steve Kerr, knows very well the value of Iguodala, the Warriors’ sixth man who is not slowing down despite being 33.
According to another ESPN report — which states that Iguodala is “not an afterthought” — when he was the closest defender, opponents shot for an effective field goal percentage that was 2.1 points lower than what is expected based on the location of the shooter and Iguodala’s proximity to him.
“Iguodala was also ludicrously efficient at the other end of the court, finishing the season in a four-way tie for the top offensive rating (129 points per 100 possessions) of any player who logged at least 1500 minutes,” the report states.
We recently ran a report at All Sports Tucson that detailed that Iguodala is the most successful lottery pick to come out of Arizona — and it’s not close.
Taking into account NBA titles (two now) and salary, Iguodala is above all other Arizona lottery picks.
He tops all of the 14 Wildcat lottery selections with a career salary of about $121.3 million (according to Basketball-Reference.com). That averages to $9.3 million in his 13-year NBA career to this point.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.