A slight road bump has come to light in the Kevin Durant signing by the Golden State Warriors.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN is reporting that the NBA is now scaling back what they projected the salary cap to be for the 2017-2018 season.
Originally, it was projected to settle at $108 million, but now the estimates are saying that it’s more likely to land at $102 million.
For some perspective, the cap for this offseason is $94 million, which was a huge jump from last season’s $70 million.
In a new projection sent to teams today, league projecting salary cap next year to be $102M, lower than previous $108M projection.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 7, 2016
This revenue increase is due primarily to the NBA’s new TV contract, and that money is being allocated towards player salaries.
Here’s where it gets challenging from the Warriors point of view: Durant has an option to opt out after one season. Since the Warriors won’t possess his full rights at that time, they’d have to create $33.5 million if Durant wants a max contract from them.
It’s only going to be $5 million more challenging to do that than previously believed, but every dollar counts in a league where moving contracts can prove to be difficult.
Another added challenge to this is that Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala are also scheduled to be free agents. The Warriors retain the full rights to both of them, so re-signing them doesn’t pose as much of a challenge as doing so for Durant.
In order to keep Durant if he opts out, they’ll have to do some creative maneuvering to free up that cap space.
There’s no reason to panic yet, because a lot of variables remain unanswered. First of all, it assumes that Durant is going to opt out next season no matter what.
That’s a huge assumption to make. If the Warriors were to win the championship, and Durant knew that the team would be in for a challenge to move enough contracts to re-sign him after he opted out, it’s plausible that he’d opt in and continue trying to win championships with this team.
Durant has proven that money isn’t his top priority. He forfeited more money with Oklahoma City to join the Warriors. The belief that he’d opt out after this season to earn more money is especially dubious because of the huge decision he make just a few days ago to join a team for less money.
Durant cares about winning, and he realizes that he’s going to be very wealthy from off-court opportunities no matter where he plays. Not to mention the fact that the Warriors are still paying him a hefty sum to suit up for them next season. Maybe it’s a handful of millions less than what Oklahoma City could have given him, but clearly Durant prioritizes things above monetary figures.
If he were to opt out, it’s impossible to plan a route to re-signing him, because the roster isn’t finished being completed for next season. What contracts would come off the books or what lofty deals could be shipped off are still unknown within the full context of a complete payroll.
Not only is it a worry for the future, but also one that may not even present itself. That’s probably up to the Warriors as a team more than anything else. If they win a championship this season, it’s hard to argue as to why Durant would want to opt out.
Clearly money is not his top motivator. He wants to win, and if he gets a championship with the Warriors, why would he ever risk not staying a member of that championship team?