In 2016, Kevin Durant left millions on the table to leave Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors. How many millions? Well, the Thunder offered him a 5-year, $149 million contract in July 2016, and Durant said no.
He signed a 2-year, $54.3 million deal with the Warriors. This past summer, Durant signed a 2-year, $61.5 million deal with Golden State. As the NBA salary cap has risen due to exploding TV contracts, so have salaries. We're still nine months away from July 2019 NBA free agency, when the cap is expected to tick up again.
Currently, Durant is only the 10th highest-paid player in the NBA, making $30,000,000 this year. He's behind guys like Blake Griffin ($32.08 million), Kyle Lowry ($31.2 million) and Mike Conley ($30.52 million).
When Durant opts out of his deal next summer, here's what he'll be looking at:
5-years, $221 million Supermax offer from the Warriors
4-years, $164 million from any other NBA team
Durant left a lot of money on the table to leave the Thunder, but so far, he's won two titles and has two NBA Finals MVP awards. He's well on his way to being one of the 10 best players in NBA history.
When you add it all up, is Durant really going to leave one of the all-time great dynasties in modern NBA history, and $57 million, to take less money and play for a team chasing a title?
This is why I rule out teams like the Knicks, which are so far from a title.
Sure, Durant could make up some of that money off the court, but he wouldn't sniff a title. There's no guarantee of that in the East, with the Raptors, the Bucks, and the Celtics all in much better shape. You could argue the top of the East is strong than the top of the West.