Free Agency: What Kevin Durant’s Extension Means for the Nets’ Future

Free Agency: What Kevin Durant's Extension Means for the Nets' Future

What does Kevin Durant’s extension mean to him and the Brooklyn Nets?

Durant broke the news Friday on his own Boardroom website that he agreed to sign a four-year, $ 198 million contract extension to his current contract, which could have allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer by turning down an option to player.

The Nets will also have the ability this summer to extend the contracts of their other two stars, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Those extensions are the biggest decisions in an offseason that has seen Brooklyn play on the edges of a roster that seemed headed for the NBA Finals before Harden and Irving suffered injuries during a second-round loss to the Milwaukee. Bucks.

So what does Durant’s signing mean in the long run for the Nets? We’ll see.

Extension maximizes Durant’s guaranteed salary

Like his former Golden State Warriors teammate and fellow MVP Stephen Curry, Durant had no financial incentive to wait and re-sign as a free agent next summer instead of extending now. As my ESPN colleague Bobby Marks explains, either way, both players were eligible for 5% raises in the first year of their new contracts, even if that amount exceeds the typical maximum salary for players with more than 10 years of experience. .

Curry and Durant are also affected by the NBA’s 38+ rule, which affects the length of the contract for players who would meet that age during the course of the contract. That would have prevented both of them from re-signing for a maximum of five years next summer, meaning an extension secures as many new years of salary as would have been possible in free agency.

The final factor here is that Durant apparently had no interest in exploring free agency after switching teams twice as an unrestricted free agent, from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Warriors in 2016 and then from Golden State to Brooklyn in 2019. With his Friends Harden and Irving as teammates and a championship-caliber roster, Durant had no reason to look around.

Maybe more extensions to come?

As noted, Durant isn’t the only Nets star eligible for an extension. Irving, who came to Brooklyn with Durant in the summer of 2019, is on the same schedule with a player option for 2022-23.

However, there is a key difference that could make an extension less favorable for Irving. Because of his age (29), Irving won’t be affected by the 38+ rule, which means he could add five years to his contract next summer instead of being limited to four this year.

Harden’s situation is slightly different. In his case, it makes more financial sense to go for a $ 47.4 million player option for 2022-23, which is more than Harden could earn that year with an extension. Harden could extend that salary from 2022-23 by three years and $ 161 million this year or wait until next summer after choosing the option and adding four years to his contract.

Whatever the mechanism, Brooklyn appears currently on track to commit nearly $ 500 million to the team’s three stars, which would mean huge luxury tax bills, particularly after the Nets became tax repeaters in 2023-24. . The Nets seem willing to pay that price to retain their stars.

Better health, the most important factor for Brooklyn

Before extending Durant’s contract, the Nets made a handful of moves targeting the team’s bench. On draft night, Brooklyn agreed to send backup guard Landry Shamet to the Phoenix Suns for his teammate, guard Jevon Carter and the 29th overall pick used by North Carolina center Day’Ron Sharpe. The Nets also drafted LSU point guard Cameron Thomas with his own pick (27) overall.

During free agency, Brooklyn recovered two key players, center Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown Jr. The Nets completed a signing and trade by sending Spencer Dinwiddie to the Washington Wizards and losing backup great Jeff Green to the Denver Nuggets. They replaced Green with forward James Johnson while using their mid-level contributor exception to add San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills as additional depth down the backcourt.

Ultimately, those changes won’t matter much in the postseason if Brooklyn’s ‘Big Three’ can’t stay healthy. After the Nets outscored the Boston Celtics in five games in the first round, Harden compounded a hamstring strain in the early stages of Game 1 against Milwaukee. The Nets still won the first two games of the series at home without Harden and were up 2-1 when Irving sprained his ankle. With Harden severely limited and Irving unavailable in the final three games of the series, Brooklyn lost a close Game 7 at home in overtime.

Knowing how close they were to beating the Bucks must have made it difficult for the Nets to see Milwaukee beat the Atlanta Hawks and Suns for the first franchise title since 1971. Brooklyn came within an inch of winning Game 7 when Durant fired at the At the end of regulation time, a 2-point shot was called to tie the game rather than a 3-point shot that would have given the Nets the lead.

Looking ahead, Brooklyn’s ability to give the eventual champions everything they can handle in a playoff series bodes well. Aging is a concern for the Nets, whose three stars will be in their 30s at the start of the postseason. Nonetheless, with Durant one more year retired from Achilles tendon surgery, Brooklyn deserves to enter next season as the title favorites.

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