When Kevin Durant officially declines his player option Friday and becomes a free agent Saturday night, he'll have an opportunity to shop for a new team, such as one in Los Angeles, a few miles from where he bought a home a couple months ago.
Does that mean Durant is ready to meet with the Lakers or Clippers? Well, no.
Having the opportunity to shop is, in this instance, inconsequential. As Durant has stated 90 times, 900 different ways, he isn't going anywhere.
He plans to re-sign with the Warriors. Period.
The only real uncertainty is the length of Durant's contract. Though he's immediately eligible for as much $158 million over four years, that figure rises significantly in the coming years. For that reason, he more likely will choose a deal that would give him maximum dollar but also optimal flexibility.
Durant is looking at three basic alternatives.
A third consecutive one-plus-one deal, such as the $51.25 pact he signed last July, allowing one full year, with a player option in Year 2. He earned $25 million in Year 1 with a scheduled bump to $26.25 million.
In that deal, Durant sacrificed roughly $9 million to maintain the core of the team. He also knew he would decline his option -- and has since informed the Warriors -- with the intent to re-sign.
If Durant chooses Option 1, he's looking at $61.5 million -- $30 million in Year 1, with a player option for $31.5 million in Year 2. If he declines the option, he could re-sign next summer for as much as $219 million over five years.
A two-plus-one deal, with two full years and a player option in Year 3.
Given the rate at which the cap is expected to rise, this is where the smart money is betting. He could decline the Year 3 option in 2020 and negotiate a long-term deal with full Bird Rights, which allow for annual raises of 8 percent.
If Durant chooses Option 2, he's looking at a projected $114 million -- $35 million in Year 1, $38 million in Year 2, with a player option for $41 million in Year 3. Those numbers could vary slightly. A long-term deal could approach
A three-plus one deal, with three full years and a player option in Year 4.
This may be the least likely deal, as Durant would be locked in for three solid years before gaining any flexibility.
If Durant chooses Option 3, he's looking at a projected $158 million -- $35 million in Year 1, $38 million in Year 2, $41 million in Year 3, with a player option for $44 million in Year 4. Those numbers could vary slightly.
As for the Warriors, CEO Joe Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber are prepared to pay full value for Durant. They won't blink any more than they did last July, when Curry signed a five-year deal worth $201 million.
"All you have to do is look at our track record," coach Steve Kerr said. "Joe and Peter have committed every resource to hanging those banners. And that's what it takes."
There is little chance of Durant accepting less than the max, as he did last July. Moreover, there is no incentive to do so. The core free agents of last season, Curry, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, are under contract. Durant's 2017 discount had a direct impact on deals signed last July by Iguodala and Livingston.
Though the maximum money increases each year, at different rates, the leverage varies, based on a variety of factors. There is no question both will be primary aspects in any decision made by Durant and his representative, Rich Kleiman.