Posted on July 4, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant last year, it was clear the team would be hard to beat. A year later we now know with certainty that it will be very hard for anyone to take the Warriors down in a best of seven series. The Warriors were pretty tough without Durant, but with him—we’re talking dynasty potential here.
That is if they can keep the roster together. When you have a bunch of stars on your roster, as the Warriors do, you will eventually have to pay them accordingly. Since everyone likes to be paid what they are worth, that typically means someone goes elsewhere to get paid.
But it looks like the Warriors are going to be able to keep the core of the team together—and they have Kevin Durant to thank for it.
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Durant has agreed to new terms with the Warriors; terms that are a bit surprising, to say the least. Rather than go for the max ($34 million) or take well-deserved 20 percent raise and earn upwards of $31.5 million—he took a pay cut.
When players are allowed to sign contracts on Thursday, Durant is expected to sign a two-year deal for $53 million. Next season he will make $25-25.9 million. Last season he made $26.5 million. He said he was willing to do what it takes to help the team stay together, and it appears that he is a man of his word.
As a result, the Warriors were able to sign Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala to three-year deals.
Lots of players talk about taking less, but few end up doing it. Rumor has it, that if Iguodala had ended up signing elsewhere, he would have been willing to leave even more on the table so the team could go after Rudy Gay.
What a guy, right? But that’s not the end of his selflessness. By taking less money, Durant will save the owners roughly $25 million in salary and luxury tax savings.
Typically, we hear about teammates doing what they can to take care of teammates. But here we have a guy helping the owners out too!
Wild, right? But should we look at him as the ultimate team player; a guy willing to sacrifice to help keep a dynasty-quality roster intact? Or should we look at him as an idiot for not getting what he could from the owners while he can?
The rich don’t get rich by giving away money, and they certainly don’t turn down a $25 million gift either. But does that mean the Warriors owners repay the favor in a couple of years when Durant wants a long-term deal?
Again—the rich don’t get rich by giving money away. If Durant is still performing at a high level and the team is still winning championships, he will get paid. He will deserve it, and if the Warriors don’t make him an appropriate offer, someone else will.
But the uncertainty of his future is what makes this a dumb move for Durant. The Warriors front office will look for any and every reason possible to not give him a max deal in a couple of years. That doesn’t mean they will find one, of course, but they will certainly try.
In a perfect world, he could trust that the owners will pay him what he is due in a couple of years, but our world is far from perfect. It’s every man for himself—which is why Durant did what he did. He knows that to maximize his overall earning potential his name needs to have a huge spotlight on it.
How do you get that spotlight? You win championships. Yes, people will always pay attention to great players stuck on good teams. But when it comes to really making that spotlight bright it helps to be a champion.
The more championships he wins, the bigger his name will get. The bigger his name becomes, the bigger the endorsement contracts will also become. His earnings the last few years are proof of that:
2012–$12.5 million salary, $13 million endorsements
2013–$16.9 million salary, $14 endorsements
2014–$17.9 million salary, $14 million endorsements
2015–$19.1 million salary, $35 million endorsements
2016–$20.2 million salary, $36 million endorsements
2017–$26.6 million salary, $34 million endorsements
In 2010, he didn’t even appear in the Forbes Top 50. His endorsement earnings took a big jump after he won the league MVP in 2014. He did dip down a little this year from the last, but it is highly unlikely that will become the norm.
So—was he an idiot for taking less money? Absolutely not. Durant knows that he’ll get paid by the owners eventually. But if he wants to get paid for endorsements now and in the near future, he needs to win titles. That means keeping the team intact.
Idiot? No—more like filthy, stinking rich, smart guy.