As NBA contracts soared this offseason, Kevin Durant shocked the basketball world when he accepted about $10 million less than the max to return to the Warriors and allow Golden State's front office the flexibility to retain the team's 2016-17 championship core.
Durant explained himself in an interview with Anthony Slater of The Athletic, and it's clear the NBA superstar is pleased with his decision.
"Well, I'm a smart guy and I want to keep this thing going and looking at Andre and Shaun (Livingston) and Steph (Curry) - they all should make the most money that they can make and get what they deserve," he said. "Because they were all underpaid and I knew at some point they'd want to get what they deserve. So I just took a step back and let the chips fall where they may. Then I took it in my hands. I wanted to keep the team together and I thought it was going to help the ownership bring all the guys back. And on top of that, it's my money. It's my decision. I can do what the hell I want with it."
Durant was quick to point out that he's not the first player to take a paycut, citing future Hall-of-Famers Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki as previous superstars to put the team above their personal financials.
"They only (criticized) it because it's the Warriors and it's me and they love to hate anything we do right now. A lot of players have (taken paycuts). It wasn't that I wanted the praise. I've learned from Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki and how it has helped them over the years and I thought, if they did it, why can't I? Why shouldn't I sacrifice? People wanted the money to break us up and I didn't want that to happen."
There were chemistry questions when the Warriors added Kevin Durant on the Fourth of July two years ago. After a championship in Year 1 and a team-friendly contract this offseason, those questions have been answered.
The Warriors begin their title defense against James Harden, Chris Paul and the new-look Rockets on Oct. 17.