Kevin Durant likes winning. He likes it so much, in fact, he's willing to take $9 million less per season to keep a winning organization intact. That's exactly what Durant did on Monday when he signed a new extension with the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors and Durant agreed on a contract extension that will pay the dynamic scorer $53 million for the next two years.
While Durant has a player option at the end of the first year — one he is expected to opt out of to earn his max contract next summer — Durant is clearly taking a huge discount to make things work in Golden State where Durant won his first NBA Title in 2016-17 and was named the 2017 NBA Finals MVP. After multiple seasons with the Oklahoma Thunder, Durant was shunned for departing to an already stacked team in Golden State in an attempt to win a title that had eluded him up to that point. Durant was the main component in the Thunder's success, but that franchise just couldn't win when it mattered most.
His arrival in Golden State came side-by-side with a pact he made with the organization and Warriors star Stephen Curry, that Durant would do what it took when it came to keeping the team together. That meant, but was not limited to, taking a discount on his salary so that the Warriors could re-sign big-ticket free agents like Curry and retain the rights to Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
Not only did Durant accept less than he was worth in the market, but he had a player option this summer which he opted out of. He did so knowing it would allow the team to make additional moves and be again considered the favorites to win in 2017-18.
Durant has ensured that the Warriors remain a "superteam" next season. It will be difficult, even for teams making major changes this summer, to measure up to the dominance that is expected from the defending champions. The closest thing to a competitor might have been Cleveland, but they went and fired their general manager and rumors are swirling that star LeBron James may leave the Cavaliers when his contract expires at the end of next season.
For now, Durant has given every indication that championships are much more important than money. He's being paid extremely well, but he's leaving a ton of cash on the table. His plan is to virtually guarantee the Warriors repeat as champions.