Whether by trade or as a free agent, there has been a growing sense over the past week that Jordan was headed to Dallas three years after spurning an agreement with the Mavericks to re-sign with the LA Clippers in the summer of 2015.
The most interesting news, then, is the one-year duration of this contract — approaching the value of the $24.1 million player option Jordan declined on Friday, per Marc Stein of The New York Times. I’m a little perplexed the two teams couldn’t agree on a trade that would have seen Jordan opt in and get traded into Dallas’ cap space, a move that would seem better for both sides. The Mavericks would have gotten Jordan’s full Bird rights in the event they stay over the cap next summer, while the Clippers would have created a $24 million trade exception to use over the next year.
If Jordan is going to be an offense-only center, he’s not worth $20 million-plus, particularly as he advances into his 30s. Fortunately, Dallas’ exposure is limited because of the one-year deal.
Because of the pay cut he took last season to help the Warriors manage their luxury-tax bill while re-signing Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, Durant was limited to a starting salary of $30 million on the kind of one-plus-one deal he ultimately accepted. To unlock his full max of $35.7 million, Durant would have had to sign a contract for at least two full years using early Bird rights. So he prioritized the flexibility to return to free agency in the summer of 2019 — and potentially then sign a full five-year max in Golden State, having attained full Bird rights by playing three years with the team.
The decision was meaningful for the Warriors, who remain deep in the luxury tax. Coincidentally, the amount of money Durant will forgo ($5.7 million) is similar to the amount of the taxpayer midlevel exception Golden State can utilize in free agency ($5.4 million). The potential for the Warriors to use that money to add to the roster — in a summer when $5.4 million could go a long way because of the cool market for free agents — might have helped convince Durant to go in this direction.