Kevin Durant declines $31.5M option, enters free agency: A look at his contract options

Injured NBA star Kevin Durant will opt out of his contract with the Golden State Warriors and become a free agent, setting himself up for a major payday on the open market despite being just days removed from major surgery on his ruptured Achilles tendon.

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Durant, 30, declined his $31.5 million option with the Warriors, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. As an unrestricted free agent, the former NBA Finals MVP is expected to command a max contract despite his injury, which will likely sideline him for the entire 2019-20 NBA season.

Under NBA rules for veterans with at least 10 years of service time, Durant’s most recent team, the Warriors, can offer him more money than other teams in the market. Golden State can offer Durant a five-year “supermax” contract worth $221 million.

Other potential suitors, such as the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets, can only offer Durant a four-year max contract worth $164 million. In a third scenario, Durant could sign a supermax contract with the Warriors, who could then trade Durant to another team after a six-month waiting period. This would allow Golden State to bolster its roster, rather than lose Durant for nothing.

At present, the top teams on Durant’s wish list are unclear. The injured star and his business manager, Rich Kleiman, are currently in New York assessing his options, according to ESPN.

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Durant ruptured his Achilles tendon during Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals and underwent surgery earlier this month. He has earned more than $187 million during his NBA career.